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Addiction: Signs and Symptoms

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 19 million Americans have an alcohol or drug use problem. The annual cost of addiction to illegal substances, alcohol, and tobacco is more than $559 billion, as stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This includes the cost of treatment, job loss, DWI, death, sickness, hospital bill, medication, and detox. Because individuals with a family history of substance use disorders can be predisposed to developing the same problem, individuals should research addiction or substance use problems within the family. If an individual finds addiction in their family’s health history, they can prevent the disease by avoiding the use of drugs and alcohol.

There is a common misunderstanding that addiction is a moral issue; however, it is important to understand that it is actually a primary chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations.

The first step in the fight against addiction is being able to recognize the signs of substance use disorder.  The main signs of addiction include:

  • Substance cravings at times when you cannot have access to it (i.e. at work)
  • Increased tolerance (feeling the need for larger amounts of the substance to experience the same effects)
  • Loss of control (inability to limit the amount you consume, despite telling yourself that you wouldn’t do it this time)

Other symptoms of addiction include physical withdrawal, the desire to stop without being able to, neglecting other daily or normal activities, and continued substance use despite negative consequences.

If you recognize signs of addiction within yourself, a friend or family member, it is important to be assessed for a substance use disorder and determine the severity of the condition. Once an individual has been assessed and diagnosed with a substance use disorder, it is important to begin treatment. There are a variety of treatment options, and at Cone Health, we assess each individual and make recommendations based on each person’s individualized symptoms and needs. Our area is fortunate as Cone Health Behavioral Health has an exceptional team of counselors, therapists, psychiatrists, nurses and other related healthcare professionals that employ a range of treatment options, including individual therapy, group (couples and families) therapy, life skills education, and medication management. For more information, call Cone Health Behavioral Health at (336) 832-9800.

Like many other diseases, the earlier an addiction problem is detected, the easier it is to treat.  Recognizing signs of substance use disorder early and being properly assessed quickly can certainly increase the success of treatment.

Spokesperson Background:

Beth Mackenzie is a substance abuse counselor at Cone Health Behavioral Health Hospital. She received a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 1977, and a Master of Science in counseling from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 2014. She has been practicing in the field for more than 20 years.