Substance Abuse

Chemical addiction is a universal problem, and yet so many individuals may be unaware that they have a problem. What might start-off as an innocent social activity can become a gradual habitual behavior, which may cause great destruction in the lives of those that use and to those that care for the user. There are individuals who are called, “functioning addicts,” and there are individuals who present with more obvious signs.

According to Dr. Richard Kelly (2006)
“The individuals dying with drug-related causes are not, for the most part, down and out, drugged out, low-lifes. And that surprises a lot of people. Many of these individuals hold jobs; attend school, live with what appears to be pretty normal lives. However, after work and/or on weekends these individuals go to dealers. They return home and consume (inhale, ingest, and inject) their substance looking for the effects they expect. They are still addicts. They continue their drug use and abuse for the effect or self-medication or because of an inner drive to use and abuse, but many are functioning members of society.”

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Characteristics of Abuse

  • Failure to fulfill major work, school or home responsibilities.
  • Uses alcohol to deal with social situations, build confidence or overcome shyness.
  • Experiencing occasional memory blackouts during or after drinking.
  • Drinking causes or exacerbates a persistent or recurrent social, work, financial, legal or health problem.
  • Uses alcohol repeatedly under circumstances which are physically dangerous, such as driving while intoxicated.
  • Continued drinking despite having ongoing relationship problems that are caused or worsened by the drinking.

Characteristics of Dependency

  • Physical dependence, with a characteristic withdrawal syndrome (such as shakiness, sweating, or trouble sleeping) that is relieved by more alcohol or drugs.
  • Physiological tolerance, so that more and more alcohol or drug is needed to produce the desired results.
  • Difficulty in controlling how much alcohol or drug is consumed once consumption has begun.
  • Spend a great deal of time drinking or using and recovering from use.
  • Give up activities that were once enjoyable or important, in order to use.
  • Continue to use even when you know that it’s causing problems in your life.

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