An estimated 14.5 million individuals in the US age 12 and above had an alcohol use disorder in 2019. There were also 8.3 million people with at least one illicit drug use disorder.
Those substance use disorders (SUDs) are a leading cause of death and other diseases in the US. In 2019 alone, drug overdoses resulted in the loss of 70,980 lives.
With such deadly consequences, it’s vital to learn more about the signs of addiction. We listed the most common ones below, so please be sure to read on.
- Increasing Intake of Substances
Substances like alcohol and drugs trigger the brain’s reward system. This stimulation then forces the brain to release dopamine.
Dopamine, in turn, is one of the body’s feel-good neurotransmitters. It influences the level of motivation and pleasure a person experiences. The greater the dopamine concentration in the body, the more euphoric a person may feel.
However, the body may become tolerant of the effects of those substances as time passes by. As a result, the same quantity of alcohol or drugs may no longer induce the same level or intensity of pleasure. This can make a person inclined to take more to achieve the rewarding experience they once felt.
With that said, one of the early symptoms of addiction is a strengthening urge to take more of a substance. An example is an increase in your alcohol consumption because a glass or two can no longer satiate you.
If that describes what you feel, consider seeking addiction help as soon as possible. This link has a guide on substance use disorder treatments that you may find helpful.
- Development of Risk-Taking Behaviors
Alcohol and drugs create euphoric effects and also affect cognitive processes. These substances can make people feel so elated that they feel more confident. This confidence can then give rise to risk-taking behaviors, such as risky driving.
Do note that up to 28 people die each day in vehicle crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver in the US. That’s on top of all the fatal road collisions that occur due to driving while under the influence of drugs.
If you’ve noticed yourself acting in such a manner, please seek help right away. This is one of the deadliest addiction symptoms indicating the need for treatment.
- Waning Interest
Alcohol and drugs reforms the brain’s perception of pleasure and enjoyment. Over time, substance use can mislead the brain to think that they’re the only source of pleasure. This can then make a person with SUD lose interest in everything else except the substance.
Therefore, one of the addiction signs to look out for is detachment or loss of interest. This can take the form of you or a loved one shying away from other people. Another is discontinuing activities you or the person you care for used to love to do.
- Strengthening Preference for Isolation
The longer detachment or loss of interest goes on, the higher the risk of isolation. Continued isolation, in turn, can result in psychiatric conditions, such as depression. Indeed, many people with SUD also have co-existing mental disorders.
It’s vital to get immediate treatment as people with SUD have a higher suicide risk.
Treat the Cause and Signs of Addiction With Early Intervention
If you experience any of the discussed signs of addiction, know that help is available. Early intervention can help you stop and save yourself from the lethal effects of SUD. The most crucial thing is to acknowledge that you need help so that you can start your journey to recovery.
If you’re looking for more health guides, please feel free to check our other news and blog posts.