Addiction is an illness that doesn’t discriminate, meaning that people from all backgrounds can experience problems with drugs or alcohol. Although many people go through an experimental phase where they are able to use recreational drugs without developing problems, others find it much more difficult to stop without seeking drug or alcohol abuse treatment.

An individual who is struggling with substance abuse often becomes withdrawn and isolated from others, fearing to talk about their problems without being criticized. For that reason it can be quite difficult to recognize the early warning signs of substance abuse, allowing the individual to sink further into developing a full-blown addiction.

When Does Drug Use Become Drug Abuse or Addiction?

In order to get people the drug or alcohol abuse treatment they need, it is important to understand the characteristics of addiction illness. People initially choose to use drugs or alcohol voluntarily for a number of reasons including:

  • Peer pressure created by mixing with others openly abusing substances
  • They have been prescribed medications for chronic health conditions
  • They are attempting to ease the symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression

The problem arises when individuals continue to regularly use substances, whether prescribed or otherwise. Over time, the body develops a natural tolerance to chemicals that are regularly introduced by way of drugs or alcohol. This means the person has to drink more alcohol or take more drugs to get the same effects they initially experienced.

When the body has become tolerant to substances, it begins to crave more of them. As the person becomes more dependent on or addicted to drugs or alcohol, they will begin to experience cravings and accompanying withdrawal symptoms every time they stop using.

Recognizing the Signs of a Developing Addiction

Whether prescribed or obtained illegally, substance use doesn’t automatically lead to abuse and addiction. There is also no definitive moment when substance use becomes a problem. Addiction is an intensely personal journey that affects individuals in very different ways although everyone suffering can benefit from a substance abuse or alcoholism treatment program. Generally speaking, addiction is less about the volume and frequency of substance use but more about its consequences. Whereas one person’s life can be quickly devastated by substance abuse, another can cope successfully without their issues being detected by others.

The rule of thumb in terms of determining if someone has substance use disorder is whether their drug or alcohol use is creating problems at work or home. When relationships have broken down as a result of substance abuse or careers dismantled by addictive behavior, it is a very strong sign that drug or alcohol use has become an addiction problem.

The first step towards overcoming substance use disorder is to recognize that a problem exists. It takes considerable personal strength to take the first step towards heroin addiction treatment and it is fair to say that individuals face a challenging journey in a drug and alcohol rehab center. However, just as addiction develops over time, it takes a while to overcome its effects but it is very possible to emerge from a drug and alcohol rehab center empowered to continue in a substance-free lifestyle.

Risk Factors for Drug Addiction

Although any individual can develop substance use disorder, there are genetic, mental health, family, social and environmental factors that can increase vulnerability including:

  • Family history of substance abuse
  • Traumatic experiences or abusive events
  • Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety or PTSD
  • Early re-creation use of drugs or alcohol
  • The substance used and method of administration, (i.e. injecting a drug such as heroin increases its addictive potential)

The Fine Line Between “Regular” Drug Use and Addiction

People who use drugs regularly are often in the worst position to recognize if they have developed problems. Although the amount of drugs they take or alcohol they consume isn’t necessarily an indicator of substance abuse or addiction, it can often signal a substance-related problem.

For many people, alcohol and drugs fulfill a valuable need that they become progressively reliant upon. They may feel more confident, productive, calm, energetic or relaxed when using substances which can be a compelling reason for individuals to continue. Some people turn to substances in response to a traumatic event or a relationship breakdown expecting them to fill the void they feel inside. No matter what route people take into the world of substance use, there is an alcohol or heroin addiction treatment path that can lead them to sobriety.

To maintain a healthy balance in life, it is important for individuals to have positive life experiences. The holistic approach to alcohol or heroin addiction treatment equips patients with the tools they need to create positive change in their lives for long-term sobriety. Even for people who have severe addiction after many years of substance abuse can pass through treatment in a drug and alcohol rehab center and into a fulfilling life in recovery.