Defining & Identifying Addiction: The First Step in Recovery

Defining & Identifying Addiction: The First Step in Recovery
This entry was posted in Alcoholism on by .

One of the most challenging parts of overcoming an addiction to drugs or alcohol is identifying the addiction itself. Due to the way an addiction functions, it can be difficult to recognize the developing behaviors as a problem instead of a new necessity. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has defined addiction as a chronic mental health disease that alters the way the patient’s brain experiences motivation and reward gratification, as well as memory overall. In short, an addiction changes what the patient sees as necessary to function to the point of missing other personal health responsibilities.

ASAM has a long list of addiction symptoms, including:

  • Needing a higher dosage to prevent withdrawal
  • Using the substance more frequently
  • Unexpected disinterest in social activities and strong relationships
  • Participating in risky behavior to use a substance
  • Experimenting with variants of a substance
  • Exhibiting behavior similar to an addictive family member

As addiction changes the way the patient decides upon gratification and remembers what led to it, kicking the negative behaviors can be an uphill battle. Whereas someone without addiction can see the growing problems and take action.

Addiction Comes in Many Forms

ASAM wants to make it clear that addiction does not only form when using known addictive substances. Most people know about addiction to nicotine, alcohol, and opioids, or painkillers. However, as addiction is rooted in a mental health issue, virtually any substance ­or behavior can lead to addiction. People can and do become addicted to social media use, shopping, gambling, cleaning, and hoarding, for example. Many others still become addicted to substances with no known addictive properties, like inhaling volatile hydrocarbons, such as gasoline or petrol.

Spotting Key Signs of Addiction & Taking Action

Due to the fact that addiction alters a person’s view of reality and their expectations of risk-and-reward behavior, it can be nearly impossible to spot your own addiction. Instead, noticing the signs of addiction most often falls upon close friends, family members, coworkers, and other loved ones who spend time regularly with the person struggling with addiction. In this way, overcoming addiction is as much of a group effort as it is a personal issue.

Someone with a growing addiction problem to a substance or behavior may have the following changes to their personality and overall health:

  • Letting work obligations fall by the wayside
  • Insomnia, or oversleeping
  • Refusal to talk about their free time
  • Suddenly gaining a new set of close friends/withdrawing from social activities
  • Dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Depression, anxiety, or irritability
  • A proclivity to catching colds and flu
  • Sickness after using over-the-counter medicines
  • Unexplainable changes in finances/personal belongings

Do you or someone you love exhibit some of these symptoms? It could be a sign of addiction to drugs or alcohol. While this is a frightening realization, it is crucial to capitalize on it and take action.

Come to Acceptance Recovery Center, the trusted name in drug and alcohol rehabilitation in Scottsdale, Arizona. Through incorporating the tried-and-true 12-step philosophy to addiction recovery with unique therapies and treatments, we can find a personalized addiction treatment program that works for you. Our top priority is your comfort and continued sobriety after you leave our center.

Find out more right now by calling for a free assessment.

About Dr. Greg Gale, MD

Dr. Greg Gale has been practicing and providing leadership in the field of psychiatry, substance use, and integrated care in the Phoenix metropolitan area for over 11 years. He joins us from his role as a national medical director overseeing behavioral health, substance use, and integrated care services for Humana Behavioral Health. Previously, he was CMO and VP of Clinical Services at Partners in Recovery, a not-for-profit behavioral health and substance use service organization, which operates five clinics throughout Maricopa County. Read more about Dr. Greg Gale, MD