Drug addiction can start with experimental use of a recreational drug in social situations, and, for some people, the drug use becomes more frequent. For others, particularly with opioids, drug addiction begins with exposure to prescribed medications, or receiving medications from a friend or relative who has been prescribed the medication.
The risk of addiction and how fast you become addicted varies by drug. Some drugs, such as opioid painkillers, have a higher risk and cause addiction more quickly than others
As time passes, you may need larger doses of the drug to get high. Soon you may need the drug just to feel good. As your drug use increases, you may find that it’s increasingly difficult to go without the drug. Attempts to stop drug use may cause intense cravings and make you feel physically ill (withdrawal symptoms).
Drug addiction symptoms or behaviors include, among others:
Feeling that you have to use the drug regularly — daily or even several times a day
Having intense urges for the drug that block out any other thoughts
Over time, needing more of the drug to get the same effect
Taking larger amounts of the drug over a longer period of time than you intended
Making certain that you maintain a supply of the drug
Spending money on the drug, even though you can’t afford it
Not meeting obligations and work responsibilities, or cutting back on social or recreational activities because of drug use
Continuing to use the drug, even though you know it’s causing problems in your life or causing you physical or psychological harm
Doing things to get the drug that you normally wouldn’t do, such as stealing
🔘Recognizing unhealthy drug use in family members
Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish normal teenage moodiness or angst from signs of drug use. Possible indications that your teenager or other family member is using drugs include:
Problems at school or work — frequently missing school or work, a sudden disinterest in school activities or work, or a drop in grades or work performance
Physical health issues — lack of energy and motivation, weight loss or gain, or red eyesNeglected appearance — lack of interest in clothing, grooming or looks
Changes in behavior — exaggerated efforts to bar family members from entering his or her room or being secretive about where he or she goes with friends; or drastic changes in behavior and in relationships with family and friends
Money issues — sudden requests for money without a reasonable explanation; or your discovery that money is missing or has been stolen or that items have disappeared from your home, indicating maybe they’re being sold to support drug use
Explore your addiction treatment options
Once you’ve committed to recovery, it’s time to explore your treatment choices. While addiction treatment can vary according to the specific drug, a successful program often includes different elements, such as:
Detoxification. Usually the first step is to purge your body of drugs and manage withdrawal symptoms
.Behavioral counseling. Individual, group, and/or family therapy can help you identify the root causes of your drug use, repair your relationships, and learn healthier coping skills.
Medication may be used to manage withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, or treat any co-occurring mental health condition such as depression or anxiety
.Long-term follow-up can help to prevent relapse and maintain sobriety. This may include attending regular in-person support groups or online meetings to help keep your recovery on track.
Residential treatment – Residential treatment involves living at a facility and getting away from work, school, family, friends, and addiction triggers while undergoing intensive treatment. Residential treatment can last from a few days to several months.
Seek treatment for any mental health problems simultaneously. As you seek help for drug addiction, it’s also important to get treatment for any other medical or psychological issues you’re experiencing. Your best chance of recovery is by getting combined mental health and addiction treatment from the same treatment provider or team.