Chemical addiction affects every aspect of a person’s life, from their relationships to their ability to complete daily tasks. Addiction or severe substance use disorder is defined as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences,” according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5, 2013). The person suffering from the addiction may not even realize their behavior is out of control and heading down a dangerous path until friends or family members make their concerns known.
Addiction is a broad category that encompasses dependencies on many types of addictive substances. No matter the addiction you are struggling with, prompt treatment provides the best prognosis for a safe and healthy recovery process. At New Vista Behavioral Health, we treat a broad range of addictions as well as primary mental illnesses to give our clients the greatest odds of a successful treatment outcome and long-term sobriety.
Specific symptoms of addiction will vary, based on the precise substance involved. However, there are often general signs that you or someone you know is becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol:
- Inability to limit or stop using the substance
- Craving or compulsion to use the substance when it is not there
- Continuing to use the substance even if it leads to significant problems in your life
- Requiring more of the substance to get the same effects (tolerance)
- Physical symptoms if the substance is stopped, known as withdrawal
Some of the signs of addiction that you might notice in a friend or family member include:
- Changes to behavior or sleeping patterns
- Severe mood swings, depression, anxiety or paranoia
- Loss of interest in friends and activities
- Lack of concern over personal hygiene, appearance
- Missing commitments or days at work or school
- Spending time with a new social group
- Asking for money frequently
If you are witnessing any of these signs in a person you care about, the sooner you seek help for the individual, the better the treatment outcome will be. Addiction is a progressive disease that gets worse over time. Without intervention and treatment, the condition could lead to severe health consequences or even death.
The Physiology of Addiction
While addiction begins as an initial choice to drink or use, the user’s control over the behavior changes over time. Most substances work by altering the brain’s reward center, infusing a substantial amount of the “feel good” neurotransmitter dopamine into the brain. The high levels of dopamine cause the “high” commonly felt after drinking or using drugs. As the reward circuit is overstimulated, it makes the person crave the high over and over, turning to the same substance or adding others to get the same effect.
At the same time, the brain adjusts to the influx of dopamine by cutting back on the production of the neurotransmitter. This leads to a less powerful high and the need to use more and more of the substance to get the same effect. It can also lower the pleasure level for other things and activities the individual enjoyed in the past, further impacting their quality of life overall and leading to a gradual addiction to the substance just to maintain a feeling of “normalcy.”
Getting the Help You Need
Most people that are addicted to a substance are unable to overcome their dependency without professional treatment. New Vista Behavioral Health offers mental health, chemical addiction and co-occurring treatment with programs tailored to the client’s individual needs. Don’t try to fight your addiction alone or watch someone you love struggle without help. Contact New Vista Behavioral Health at 888-316-3665 to get the help you need today.