If you are concerned that you or a loved one might be addicted to alcohol or drugs, there are three primary symptoms that you can look for that will help you to know whether it is time to seek help for your problem. Before you can identify whether or not you have an addiction, you need to understand what a symptom is and why it is important.
What is a Symptom?
In it’s most basic definition, a symptom is something that is sensed, seen or described by a patient to a medical professional that can help lead to a diagnosis of a disease or a condition. Signs of addiction are different. These are things that other people such as an addiction counselor, a friend or a family member will notice. In many cases, the addict might not even see these signs on their own without it being pointed out by someone who cares.
What is Addiction?
When a person is addicted to something, whether it is a substance, such as drugs, alcohol, nicotine or other products, they are unable to control their use of the substance in question. For example, alcoholics may want to stop drinking because they know that it is harmful, but they may be unable to quit on their own. However, for most addicts, the knowledge of the harm that the addiction is doing to them is often elusive. The addict will even have powerful cravings for the substance they have the addiction for without even realizing why they are drawn to it.
Symptom #1 – Withdrawal
If you have ever tried to quit using alcohol, drugs or another substance, but experienced symptoms of withdrawal, you might be addicted. For example, an addict that quits drinking alcohol all of a sudden will experience several mood-related symptoms, such as anger, depression, resentment, frustration and a feeling of emptiness. Physical symptoms can also occur, such as an increased appetite, insomnia, shakiness, bowel problems and, in severe cases, powerful hallucinations, sweats, trembling, violent thoughts or actions and seizures.
Symptom #2 – Apathy
For the person with the addiction, the pull to continue abusing the substance in question will persist despite the loss of things that were once important in the individual’s life. Loss of relationships or strained relationships, deteriorating health conditions, problems in social situations, loss of a job or career and even loss of credibility with family and friends are all commonplace in the world of the addict. An arrest due to driving under the influence or possession of illegal drugs can often be a wake-up call for some, but many addicts will quickly revert to their addictive behavior in short order if they do not receive professional help.
Symptom #3 – Stockpiling
Those who are addicted to a particular substance will make sure to have a stockpile on hand to feed their addiction, even if it means sacrificing money that is needed to pay bills, rent or buy food. A large liquor cabinet or refrigerator full of beer is often a typical symptom of alcoholism. The risk-taking associated with the purchase of illegal drugs is often ignored by those who are truly addicted. The addict will often spend all the money they have just to ensure that they have enough to feed their habit.
It is important to know that everyone is different. We all react differently to different situations, substances and conditions, so if you do not fit the criteria for the three symptoms listed above, yet still feel that you or a loved one needs help for an addiction, you may want to speak with an addiction counselor for a professional evaluation.