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Am I A Drug Addict?

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Am I A Drug Addict?

“Am I a drug addict” is a question that many people ask while looking in the mirror but rarely admit to themselves or others as a fact. This question is mostly met with a host of rationalizations that can drive an addict into denial if they are not already there.  The long standing stigma that still cling to addiction, coupled with preconceived or stereotyping of how a drug addict should look and behave does not usually fit neatly into the image we have of ourselves which help to perpetuate the self-delusion.  

When Griffin finally admitted that he was a drug addict, he also confessed that he did not want the word “addict” to define who he was.  However, it is at this point, when an individual that has been battling drug addiction recognize and admit that their drug use defines them as a drug addict, at least for that phase of their lives, that change can truly begin. “I became aware of this realization during my time in treatment which was the beginning of my journey as an addict” Griffin said in his drug addiction story. But what does it really mean to be a drug addict?

 The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines drug addiction as a chronic relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. Based on this definition, a person characterized as an addict will be experiencing a mentally impaired condition that drives them to compulsively seek to acquire and use a chemical substance despite being aware of the inherent dangers associated with its use.  

Doctors suggest that to accurately determine if you meet the criteria of being a drug addict, it may be necessary to undergo a thorough physical and psychological evaluation by a psychiatrist, psychologist and or a licensed and experienced drug counselor.  In the meantime, to stop the progression of addiction or to determine if you are a candidate for drug treatment it may be helpful to review the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria for substance use disorders.  

According to the DSM-5, you may be a drug addict if you have experienced at least two of the following issues within a 12-month period:

  • You have developed a tolerance for a drug that manifest as a need to consistently increase the amount you take to get the desired effects.  
  • You often consume more drugs over a longer period of time than you planned or wanted to use.
  • You sincerely want to reduce the amount of drugs you take or to quit taking it all together but you have not been able to.
  • The major proportion of your daily life is consumed with getting, using and/or recovering from the effects of the drug.
  • Cravings for the drug is so intense that it supersedes all other thoughts and desires.
  • Your pattern of drug use prevents you from meeting normal obligations and responsibilities.
  • Despite the problems that using drugs is causing in your life, you are unable to control or stop this behavior.
  • Drug use has so impacted your life that you have given up or severely reduced important social, occupational or recreational activities and commitments.
  • You engage in drug use even when it put you and others at risk such as driving or operating machinery while under the influence of drugs.
  • Drug use continues even though you know that it is detrimental to your physical and psychological health and well-being.
  • Any attempt to stop or reduce the amount of drugs consumed triggers unpleasant physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms which forces you to use more drugs to avoid the discomfort.

For most people, admitting that you have experienced one of more of these issues can be scary at first.  However, delaying drug treatment will only cause the addiction to progress and increase the risk associated with chronic drug abuse.  The complexities of addiction demand a comprehensive continuum of care to achieve full recovery and sustainable sobriety.  Reaching out for help by calling a drug treatment center or seeing your primary care physician to discuss your drug use and the safest and best treatment options has been shown to be the most appropriate and potentially life-saving step to take.  

Sources:

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