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Drugs and alcohol are both substances which alter the perceptions of the individual
who consumes them. Using these substances regularly can cause a lot of trouble
for the user. Many find that their occasional use turns into habitual use,
which is more often than not just a step away from addiction. Addiction is
where the individual depends on these substances just to feel good or get through
Here are a few of the early warning signs that a person may have problems
with drugs and alcohol:
relying on drugs and alcohol to have fun, forget problems, or relax having blackouts (when a person can't remember what happened when drunk or
taking drugs and alcohol by their self
withdrawing or keeping secrets from friends or family
performing differently in school (such as grades dropping and frequent absences)
building an increased tolerance to drugs and alcohol - gradually needing more
and more of the substance to get the same feeling
There are probably as many definitions of "addiction" and abuse
as there are substances to abuse. Misunderstandings occur when we get lost
in quibbling over "how much" and "how many times" we take
drugs and alcohol. In addition, many of us have cultural, religious, and social
baggage about the use of drugs and alcohol. A more useful way to decide if
a person is chemically dependent is to consider whether an "impairment" or "negative
consequence" occurs as a result of use. This can happen in their physical,
emotional, and/or social functioning. Sometimes they notice the effects of
drugs and alcohol on their lives, sometimes others have to point it out to
them. The range of use includes "experimentation" (use a few times
to discover the effect), "regular" or "social use" (use
without impairment or negative consequences), "problem use" (impairment
in one area of functioning), and "addiction" (the inability to stop
using or to stay stopped despite negative consequences in one or more areas
of one's life). This includes compulsive use and the loss of control over use.
It is usually hard for people to recognize that they have a problem with drugs
and alcohol. This is why friends or family often step in. People who are addicted
to drugs or alcohol may promise over and over that they'll stop. However, quitting
is hard to do. Many people find they can't do it without help. The best thing
for an individual who has problems with drugs and alcohol is to talk to someone
they trust, preferably someone who can support them emotional. This way they
don't have to deal with their problem alone. There are also lots of resources
for people who have problems with drugs and alcohol.
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