What is addiction? While there is much debate about what addiction really is and how it’s developed, the facts are there. Addiction is a brain disease which results in compulsive self-destructive behaviors and continuous use of drugs or alcohol. One of the most defining characteristics of addiction is that individuals experience consequences as a result of their drug or alcohol use and continue to use anyway. But, it’s not always as cut and dry as defining addiction with a single characteristic. Addiction is different for everyone. There are numerous classes of addictive drugs, let alone the number of addictive substances this world has to offer.
What is Addiction? The Defining Characteristics
While addiction may be different for everyone, there are still a few characteristics which define most people’s addiction. However, while you may not experience any, some, or all of these characteristics, it doesn’t mean that addiction may or may not be present. These characteristics are a guideline to help you determine whether you may be struggling with addiction. Some specific characteristics of addiction may include:
Tolerance: This is when an individual has to up the dosage or a drug just to experience the effects they’re seeking. It happens when the brain and body start to expect the administration of the drug, which can begin to happen with even first-time use.
Dependence and Withdrawal: Dependence is when the body starts to need the drug to perform functionally. It’s present when an individual starts to recognize withdrawal symptoms upon ceasing drug or alcohol use. Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the drug of choice. But, they are usually aggravating and painful symptoms which are usually identified easily.
A Loss of Control: No one wants to become an addict. What may have started out as weekly binge drinking with friends can turn into needing alcohol upon waking each morning. This loss of control over how much and how often a drug of choice is used is commonly a defining characteristic of addiction.
Experienced Consequences: Usually, when someone experiences negative consequences as a result of drug or alcohol use and continues to use anyway, it’s a red flag which resembles addiction. Common consequences of addiction may include job loss, broken relationships, divorce, legal issues, lowered grades, health problems, or financial issues.
Avoidance: Usually, individuals addicted to drugs or alcohol don’t want others to find out about their addiction or drug abuse. So, they avoid family get-togethers, responsibilities, and even previous passions. Along with avoidance, addicted individuals may become apathetic about subjects they were once previously excited for.
Time: Those who spend a considerable amount of their time searching for and obtaining their drug of choice usually struggle with other addictive behaviors. This is often one of the signs of addiction friends and family notice first.
Trying to Quit: Another common red flag which may point to addiction is trying to stop but failing. Those addicted may eventually wake up from denial and accept that they need to stop using because of the consequences they face. But, more often than not, attempting to stop the use of drugs or alcohol is unsuccessful, especially for those who are already dependent or addicted.
Deciding to Get Help for an Addiction
It’s commonly believed that an individual has to hit “rock bottom” to finally stop abusing addictive substances. Hitting rock bottom is a common phrase referring to when someone has reached the lowest time of their life and has nowhere else to turn. Only then, it’s believed that addicts will seek the help they so desperately need. But, it’s not necessarily true that people have to hit rock bottom just to go to treatment. It is possible to get help without experiencing all of the consequences of addiction. But, it only works if you’re motivated.
If you think that you’re ready to get the help you need to confront and battle your addiction, YOU ARE. Plus, you never know if tomorrow is the day your drug of choice will take your life. So, decide now that you want to be an individual whose life isn’t determined by drug use. Contact Simple Path Recovery today to speak with an addiction specialist about programs which may help you battle addiction!