How Bad Is Addiction?
There are various types of addiction, however, a number of people are addicted to drugs and alcohol. This causes substance abuse and substance dependence, which are both dangerous to the lives of addicted people. Addiction can be complicated, and its symptoms vary widely from person to person, making the decision for the right treatment plan a tough nut to crack.
It is common to find people mistake abuse for addiction. Substance abusers are patients who exhibit a recurrent pattern of substance use and meet at least one of these criteria within a year:
- Having repeated legal problems due to substance use
- Frequently having difficulty performing responsibilities
- Using substances in physically hazardous situations
- Continuous intake of alcohol or drugs despite causing them social problems such as embarrassment or isolation from loved ones.
Substance dependence is a severe form of addiction. Patients who suffer substance dependence are those who have a recurring pattern of substance use over a year’s time and meet three of these seven criteria.
7 Symptoms of Substance Dependence
Missing Work or Other Activities
Substance-dependent persons would rather hang out with their drug-consuming friends, rather than spend time with their family or do their work. This makes them miss out on a lot of essential activities.
Disregard for Repercussions
Substance-dependent patients persistently abuse drugs, despite the negative effects it has on their physical, emotional, and social life.
Tolerance for the Substance
People who suffer from substance dependence will require larger amounts of alcohol or drugs over time, and at each time, will be tolerant of the substance.
Inability to Stop
People who are substance dependent usually have difficulty avoiding or reducing their drug or alcohol intake.
Substance-dependent patients spend a lot of their time trying to recover from the substance. This causes a huge loss of time.
Patients who are dependent on a substance experience physical stress when they stop using it. For instance, a heroin-dependent person may have symptoms such as bone pain, diarrhea, runny nose, or gooseflesh, a temporary condition that causes their skin to become rough.
Some patients suffer substance dependence from extended use because they have used a drug for a longer period than they originally intended.
Effects of Addiction on the Brain
The brain of an addict will change after repeated misuse of alcohol or drugs. The brain’s dopamine transmitters, and nerves that send feelings of pleasure to the brain may stop working normally. This may cause depression when they stop using the substance. They may also experience a reduction in the brain’s gray matter volume. There are other effects such as damage to the hippocampal region of the brain, which may in turn affect short-term memory. Some of these problems may persist for years after the patient has stopped misusing alcohol or drugs because the recovery process can take a while. Damaged brains actually recover at a much slower rate than other parts of the body.
4 Ways to Manage Addiction
Even though drug and alcohol dependence are lifelong disorders, there are effective treatment programs that healthcare providers can use in managing patients. There are other treatment options they can explore. Let`s take a look.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This therapy enables patients to recognize and change their thought patterns with specific, individualized strategies. Gradually, with consistent and effective sessions, they will return to normalcy.
This is an interactive discussion that encourages self-awareness and helps patients to recognize that their substance use is a problem.
There are medications that block receptors in the brain and prevent people from getting high or drunk when they use substances. Health practitioners may ask addicts to take certain medications that cause nausea and flushing whenever they consume alcohol.
In addition to attending counseling sessions, patients may need to join support groups to feel better and get connected with the real world as they transition to their new, drug-free life.
Signs of Addiction
Knowing the signs of addiction will help you identify them in people around you, especially family and friends. It is important for family members and friends to recognize these signs. These signs can differ, depending on the type of addictions sufferers are dealing with. A number of addicts are able to hide their addiction from people who are closest to them. Loved ones may also be careful not to ask them to avoid hurting them, especially because they are not sure, or don`t even know the signs. Here`s how to know when someone suffers from addiction:
- Lying about the substance or how much they consume
- Becoming angry when asked about their consumption
- Developing problems at work or school
- Changing friends
- Stopping or withdrawing from social activities
- Criminal behavior
- Secretive behavior, lying, and stealing
- Changes to normal habits or mood swings
- Appearing intoxicated more often
- Problems with memory or cognition
- Rapid weight fluctuations
- Poor hygiene and grooming
- Unusual tiredness
- Bloodshot eyes
Addiction Facts you Should Know
- Alcohol use is a high-risk factor for dementia and some other neurological conditions.
- Drinking red wine in moderation is good for the heart because red wine contains resveratrol, a substance that helps prevent blood vessel damage, control cholesterol, and stop blood clots.
- Binge drinking can lead to a hangover.
- Hangovers are caused by chemical byproducts created during alcohol processing.
- Dark liquors, such as whiskey and red wine are more likely to result in severe hangovers. White or clear liquors are less likely to result in a hangover.
- Muscles absorb alcohol faster than fat. This is why people who have more muscles and less body fat have higher alcohol tolerance.
- More teens die from prescription drugs than heroin and cocaine combined.
- More high school seniors abuse marijuana than cigarettes.
- Alcohol is processed in the liver, where enzymes help break down ethanol into acetaldehyde and acetate.
- The effects linked to drinking happen when ethanol enters the bloodstream and passes through the membranes of cells in the brain, heart, and other organs.
- Alcohol use disorder has a genetic component, as studies estimate that genes account for about half of the risk.
- Men are more likely to use alcohol than women.
- 1/3 of teenagers who live in states with medical marijuana laws get their pot from other people’s prescriptions.
- 60% of teens who abuse prescription drugs get them free from friends and relatives.
- By the 8th grade, 28% of adolescents have consumed alcohol, 15% have smoked cigarettes, and 16.5% have used marijuana.
- Teens who consistently learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are about 50% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t.
- The harmful use of alcohol results in about 3.3 million deaths annually.
- Less than half the US population consumes on average, 17 liters of pure alcohol annually.
- About 31 million people have drug use disorders.
- Almost 11 million people inject drugs, and 1.3 million of them are living with HIV, 5.5 million with hepatitis C, and 1 million with both HIV and hepatitis C.
- 61.7% of the world`s population aged 15 years or older has not drunk alcohol in the past year.
- Approximately 17% of men and 10% of women will be dependent on alcohol in their lifetime.
- There are about 80,000 deaths that are linked to alcohol abuse every year, making it the 3rd highest cause of death in the United States.