Sometimes it can be hard to spot the signs of alcohol and drug addiction, especially in our modern world. Alcohol is very much a part of the culture and having a few beers is customary in many parts of the world. It seems that many people are willing to except problematic behavior, such as drunkenness, as a part of ordinary life in Western culture. Drinking is pushed on people, regardless of age, as a normal rite of passage.
Alcohol is ever-present, not only in bars and restaurants but at sporting events, concerts, festivals and other gatherings. Additionally, prescription drugs are freely dispensed and many Americans are on one or more prescriptions for various maladies. In a culture where both alcohol and prescription drugs are always available and widely accepted, it falls to us to take personal responsibility for our consumption. This is as it should be. However, too often we fail to realize that we have allowed ourselves to get out of control. It is crucial that we learn to recognize the warning signs of alcohol and drug addiction.
Alcohol Drug Addiction
Alcohol drug addiction is insidious. Unlike the so-called “hard drugs” such as cocaine and heroin, which can be almost instantaneously addictive, alcohol drug addiction tends to creep up slowly over time. According to publications by the Mayo Clinic and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism you should watch your drinking patterns for, among others, the following elements:
- Drinking alone and/or hiding your drinking.
- Losing periods of time when drinking.
- Drinking to become intentionally intoxicated.
- Craving alcohol and becoming irritated if it is not available.
- Developing drinking rituals, such as beers after work, and becoming upset if something disturbs your ritual.
- Losing interest in non-alcohol related hobbies and activities.
- Hiding alcohol in unusual places.
- Developing tolerance — needing progressively more alcohol to achieve the same effect.
- Inability to control the amount you consume when drinking.
- Physical withdrawal symptoms when you do not drink.
Prescription Drug Addiction
Prescription drug addiction is a lot more common than we think. It is more difficult to determine, as the prescription is originally designed as the answer to a medical problem. Yet, it is rather simple for a prescription drug addiction to become a medical problem in and of itself and for the simple use of prescribed drugs to become addictive.
Like alcohol drug addiction, prescription drug addiction tends to creep up over time. Watch out for many of the same symptoms of addiction that you would for alcohol addiction. Additionally, be aware of any of the following behaviors:
- Taking more than the prescribed dose or taking the prescription drug more frequently than prescribed.
- “Doctor shopping” — Visiting multiple doctors in an attempt to gain more prescriptions for the same or different drugs.
- Fraudulent prescriptions — Calling in a prescription yourself or having a friend or relative do so.
- Buying prescription medications on the street or “borrowing” pills from a friend.
- Pharmacy theft — stealing prescription medications from a pharmacy or hospital.
Alcohol and drug addiction are both commonly referred to as diseases of the brain, yet it may well be the only disease that people ever invite upon themselves. With treatment, addiction can be overcome. If you or someone you know is experiencing addiction, get help immediately and check into a rehab facility or see a doctor. Drug and alcohol addiction does not need to cost a life in order to make an impact.