The simple definition of a “drug addict” is someone who abuses a mind-altering substance despite the negative effects it has on their life. Drug addiction crosses all financial social boundaries. There have been a lot of famous drug addicts throughout history. The professional DSM-5 diagnosis for drug addiction is a set of criteria for various categories of drugs. The criteria includes drug craving, going through withdrawal, using despite negative consequences and others. A professional evaluation makes a distinction between “mild” and “severe” levels. There are certain signs and symptoms of addiction including physical and behavioral.
If a person is compulsively seeking and using a drug(s) despite negative consequences such as loss of job, family problems, debt, physical problems that are brought on by drug abuse, then he or she is probably a drug addict.
Signs and Symptoms of A Problem
Although some addicts are very good at keeping their drug use hidden, it is very difficult to keep a drug problem a secret from the people around them forever. There are certain signs and symptoms of someone being addicted to drugs. In general, they all relate to changes in the way they think and act. The physical signs of being a drug addict can vary depending on the person and the drug being abused. For example, someone who abuses marijuana may have a chronic cough. Each drug has short-term and long-term physical effects; stimulants like cocaine increase heart rate and blood pressure, whereas opioids like heroin may slow the heart rate and reduce respiration.
- Tolerance Tolerance means you need more drugs to feel the same effects
- Withdrawal As the effect of the drugs wear off the person experiences withdrawal symptoms. These may include anxiety, shakiness, trembling, sweating, vomiting, insomnia, depression, loss of appetite and headaches.
- Loss of Control Using more drugs than they intended despite telling themselves that they wouldn’t do it this time
- Neglecting Other Activities They spend less time on activities that used to be important to them
- Use Despite Negative Consequences They continue to use drugs even though they know it’s causing problems
Here is a list of some physical and health issues that might indicate there is a problem.
- Bloodshot eyes and or dilated pupils
- Nosebleeds from snorting drugs
- Changes in appetite weight loss or gain
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changes in personal grooming
- Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
- Slurred speech or unstable coordination
From Use to Abuse to Addiction
For someone who has become an addict, drug use often starts out as an “experiment” often turns into more and more use. For someone with an addictive personality, it leads to an addiction. Eventually, it becomes difficult to derive pleasure from other normal activities, such as sports, food, or sex. After repeated drug use, an addict reaches a point when deciding to use drugs is no longer voluntary. Scientists have proven drugs literally change your brain.
It is during this transformation process that a drug abuser becomes a drug addict.
Drug Addiction Quiz
Here are four questions to help determine if someone is at risk of becoming an addict:
- Have you ever felt you ought to cut down on your drug use?
- Have people ever annoyed you by criticizing your drug use?
- Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drug use?
- Have you ever had to take a drug first thing in the morning?
One or more “yes” indicates there is a potential problem with drug use.