Understanding the signs of addiction
Addiction, whether it's an addiction to smoking, drugs, alcohol, gambling or any other harmful activity or substance, can be an extremely difficult thing to overcome. For addicts themselves, the process involves not only physical detoxification or withdrawal, but also mental exploration to help get to the root of the problem.
Families of addicts may also have a difficult time. Often, addicts don't just harm themselves but also harm those close to them through the negative symptoms associated with addiction. However, family and friends can play a significant role in the success of addiction treatment because they act as a support system for the addict throughout his or her recovery.
Of the many different types of addiction, there are symptomatic behaviors that are shared between them all—some signs of pill addiction may be the same as alcoholism or drug addiction, for example. These common symptoms include:
- Secretive behavior and lying. Addicts will often lie to cover up their addiction and will purposely try to hide what they are doing.
- Missing money. Addictions cost money, and addicts may drain their savings and run up their own credit cards. Some also resort to stealing to feed their problem.
- Extreme mood swings. Many addicts experience erratic and sudden changes of mood. They are often prone to emotional extremes such as giddiness and joy as well as depression.
- Lack of interest in life. Addicts who do become depressed may begin to avoid hobbies and other activities that once interested them.
- Change in social behavior. Addicts will often flock to their own kind, fearing judgment from friends and family. A significant change in social behavior can be a sign of an addiction.
Many additional symptoms, such as sweating, fever, anxiety, skin problems and weight loss or gain, may be present as well, depending on the type and severity of addiction.
While the type of addiction treatment will be determined on an individual basis, the methods below have all proven helpful in treating addicts:
- Medical facilities. Alcohol and drug detox hospitals can help patients overcome the difficulties and health issues that arise during the detoxification process. Medical professionals are kept on staff to help monitor patients and treat them with medication if necessary.
- Rehabilitation programs. Alcohol and drug addiction programs provide patients with structure during their recovery. Typically, these programs involve counseling sessions, random testing and other forms of support and accountability. Many programs for treating alcohol addiction are free, and state-funded drug treatment programs can help relieve the financial burden of seeking treatment.
- Support groups. Many recovering addicts find support groups to be an important part of their treatment. Sharing stories and forming bonds with other recovering addicts can be extremely motivational.