According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 20 million Americans have an alcohol or drug abuse problem. Because individuals with a family history of substance abuse disorders can be predisposed to developing the same problem, individuals should research addiction or substance abuse problems within the family. If an individual finds addiction in their family’s health history, they can prevent the disease by avoiding the use of drugs and alcohol.
There is a common misunderstanding that addiction is a moral issue; however, it is important to understand that it is actually a primary chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations.
The first step in the fight against addiction is being able to recognize the signs of substance dependence. The main signs of addiction include:
- Craving the substance at times when you cannot have access to it (i.e. at work).
- Increased tolerance (feeling the need for larger amounts of the substance to experience the same effects).
- Loss of control (inability to limit the amount you consume, despite telling yourself that you wouldn’t do it this time).
Other symptoms of addiction include:
- physical withdrawal
- desire to stop without being able to
- neglecting other daily or normal activities
- continued substance use despite negative consequences.
If you recognize signs of addiction within yourself, a friend or family member, it is important to get assessed for a substance abuse problem and the severity of the condition. Once an individual has been assessed and diagnosed with a substance use disorder, it is important to begin treatment. There are a variety of treatment options. Treatment recommendations made based on each person’s individualized symptoms and needs.
There are a range of treatment options, including individual therapy, group (couples and families) therapy, life skills education, and medication management. Like many other diseases, the earlier an addiction problem is detected, the easier it is to treat. Recognizing signs of substance abuse or dependency early and getting properly assessed quickly can certainly increase success of treatment.