If you are here reading this page or even asking this question at all, then there is a chance that you are, or the person you are searching on behalf of is, an addict.
Whether in the early stages of addiction or grappling with fully-fledged dependence, know that there is help at hand.
This article is dedicated to exploring what addiction looks like, how addiction works in the mind, how to get help, and what type of treatment program may work best for you or your loved one.
If you would like to discuss your concerns about addiction, or if you have questions, our support staff are here to help. Book your free 60-Minute Consultation today.
Common signs and symptoms of addiction
Addiction can take many forms depending on the drug being used, the person using, and how frequently usage occurs. Addiction may take place from the first use, or may creep in slowly. As time passes with addiction, you may find that you need larger and/or more frequent doses or amounts to achieve the same effect.
Addiction is a complex problem which includes physical and psychological cravings for a drug or substance. Addiction occurs when a person has an uncontrollable urge to take a drug or drink alcohol due to a physical or mental dependance.
Each type of drug has different consequences to addiction:
Alcohol addiction is common due to the fact that alcohol is intertwined in the fabric of our society. Alcohol addiction is pervasive and can cause severe harm and distress to the sufferer and their family and friends.
The common signs of alcohol addiction may include:
- Short term memory loss
- Irritability and mood swings
- Making excuses to drink
- Increasing isolation
- Drinking alone or in secret
- Feeling hungover even when you do not drink
- Changing your acquaintances based on who you drink with
Ice is one of the most destructive drugs in Australia due to its wide availability and addictive nature. Ice is a powerful stimulant which means that it speeds the messages passing between the brain and body. Users may feel pleasure, confidence, and energised when using; and hopeless, flat and depressed when coming down. Ice addiction can look like:
- Needing ice to get through the day
- Using alone
- Mood changes, irritability and mental health struggles
- Hallucinations and psychosis
- Unusual behaviour
Ice addiction often requires addiction treatment to help with recovery. Sometimes a person may use other drugs concurrently with ice, such as marijuana ecstasy, prescription drugs, alcohol, and other substances. This can make the process of recovery complex, but not impossible, so long as you have appropriate treatment and care.
Heroin is an opioid drug, and one of the most highly addictive drugs. Heroin is smoked, injected, or snorted, and when it enters the brain it binds to opioid receptors, impacting on pleasure centres and the areas responsible for sleeping and breathing. Addiction to heroin can show the following behaviours:
- Altered mood and irritability
- Mood swings and crying
- Unusual behaviour
- Using alone or in secret
- Mental health struggles
- Sickness when detoxing or withdrawing
- Loss of interest in activities, work, family, or health
Heroin addiction can happen very quickly, and there is a high risk of overdose associated with use. If you suspect you or someone you love is addicted to heroin it is important to seek help as soon as you can, to avoid the risk of overdose or death.
Other drug addictions
There are numerous other drugs such as MDMD, cocaine, prescription drugs, GHB, and marijuana. While these drugs all have different forms of addiction, the general outcome is usually the same — a dependance on the drug or substance, followed by a negative shift in mood or behaviour when not using.
Mental health and addiction
It is worth noting that beyond substance abuse and addiction, there are often underlying mental health issues which either prompt or compound the drug or alcohol abuse. This is what is known as a dual diagnosis. The Hader Clinic treats mental health dual diagnoses with a holistic and pragmatic approach that tackles the symptoms and consequences of drug addiction and mental health issues.
How to get help for addiction
A surprising amount of people are unwilling (or unable) to face the facts about the way they medicate their lives. This is because of a masterful trick that the brain deploys to protect the sufferer from the consequences of their actions: denial.
- When you are in denial you convince yourself that your use is normal, or that you can justify your use by attributing your need to use to having a bad day, a stressful week, or needing to blow off steam.
- Or, you might be a 'functioning' addict which means that your family, friends, and colleagues don't know about your addiction, and you can keep up appearances — so it's fine.
But denial is a way of your brain protecting the highs that it craves so much, and is a way to ensure you keep using. Another strand of denial is that addiction is notorious for being the only disease that tells the sufferer that they do not have it.
Ask yourself: Am I an addict?
For many people, the mere suggestion in their mind that they might be an addict is a scary thing. If you are looking to identify addiction as part of your use, here are some simple questions to ask yourself with very clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers:
- When was the last time that you managed to get through a week without using drugs?
- When you are prescribed drugs do you blast the through the prescription?
- Do you find yourself using a cocktail of different substances?
- Do you try to stop using, but find yourself unable to do so?
- When trying to stop, do you simply change drugs and start taking something else instead?
- Have you ever experienced “blackouts” or “flashbacks” as a result of drug use?
- Do you ever feel guilt and remorse about your drug use or the things you do when you’re high?
- Does your family and friends ever complain about your involvement with drugs?
- Have you lost friends because of your use of drugs and the resulting behaviour?
- Have you neglected your family and/or responsibilities because of your use of drugs?
- Have you been in trouble at work/school or lost a job because of using substances?
- Have you been in physical or verbal fights when under the influence of drugs?
- Have you engaged in illegal activities in order to obtain drugs?
- Have you been arrested for possession of illegal drugs?
- Have you ever experienced withdrawal symptoms when you stopped taking drugs?
- Have you had medical problems as a result of your drug use?
- Does any of your blood relatives have a problem with drugs or alcohol?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then there is a possibility that you are grappling with addiction. While this can be a scary and confronting prospect, know that you are not alone, and help is at hand.
The Hader Clinic has been helping patients for over 20 years with specialised addiction treatment. Our service is credible, immediate, inclusive, holistic, and ongoing and we are trusted with the care of even the most complex patients.
Addiction is a complex disease characterised by low dopamine production and a faulty reward system. Addiction is widely recognised as genetic in more than 50% of people.
- Addiction impacts individuals on a number of diverse emotional, social, mental and spiritual levels.
- Addicts are generally given to concealing not only the extent of their drug use, but also the way they feel from themselves and other people.
This inability to deal with their emotional life comes in a wealth of different forms from those who hide their fear with anger to those who simply withdraw physically from the world.
Common traits of the addict
Addicts cogitate, plan and scheme obsessively about using their drug or drugs of choice. This can look like obsession, where you will stop at nothing to get your drug of choice, but will also appear in much more subtle forms — especially during the early onset of the disease.
- If you spend an inordinate amount of time during the week at work or school thinking about how wasted you can get on the weekend, planned with the precision of a military campaign, then there is every possibility you are heading towards trouble.
- It is worth noting that while that this projection is playing in your mind you are not really present or connected to what you are doing in the moment.
- Obsession, compulsion and acting impulsively are all delightful traits of the addict.
How to get help for addiction
With what you have just read it may seem like it is impossible to recover, get clean, stop using, and move on with your life without drugs consuming you. But it's not impossible, and with the right treatment it is highly possible.
The Hader Clinic offers a range of treatment options:
- 28-Day Withdrawal and Detox — helping the addict to manage the physical symptoms of withdrawal and allowing them to detox.
- Inpatient Rehabilitation Program — follows on from 28-Day Withdrawal and Detox and provides support while patients progress through their recovery.
- Outpatient Relapse Prevention — helping patients with support as they reintegrate into society with help to prevent sudden relapse.
Plus, there are family support programs to assist your network as you or your loved one moves through addiction into recovery.
It is possible to stop using, change the thinking, and alter the behaviour. This can happen in innumerable ways, through a variety of different types of therapy, the 12 steps, and by helping the addict to reconnect with themselves and with the world.
Addiction does not have to be a life sentence.