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How Can You Tell If Someone Is An Addict Or Alcoholic

Clinically speaking, substance-related disorders are divided between substance use disorders and substance-induced disorders.  As defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) (American Psychiatric Association [APA] 2000), a substance-related disorder is a “disorder related to the taking of a drug of abuse (including alcohol)…” The term substance “can refer to a drug of abuse, a medication, or a toxin” (APA 2000, p. 191).

Substance use disorders include substance abuse and substance dependence; these make up the bulk of addiction-related diagnoses. 

Substance dependence refers to “a cluster of cognitive, behavioral, and physiological symptoms indicating that the individual continues use of the substance despite significant substance-related problems. There is a pattern of repeated self-administration that can result in tolerance, withdrawal, and compulsive drug-taking behavior” (APA 2000, p. 192). 

Substance abuse refers to “a maladaptive pattern of substance use manifested by recurrent and significant adverse consequences related to the repeated use of substances” (APA 2000, p. 198).

Practically speaking, you can tell if someone might have an addiction problem if they continue a harmful or detrimental behavior despite adverse consequences. 

Changes You Might Notice When Someone Starts Getting High

  • Erratic behavior
  • Unexplained absences from family, social, or work engagements
  • General level of apathy
  • An unrealistic, overly optimistic perspective
  • Staying awake for long periods or sleeping for long periods of time
  • Inability to keep from repeatably falling asleep during inappropriate times (nodding out)
  • Decline in self-care and general appearance
  • Periods of exuberant happiness followed by irritability and a deflated attitude
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Isolation
  • Reduced pleasure in things once enjoyed

If a friend or loved one is exhibiting signs similar to the ones discussed above, there is defiantly something wrong.  Addiction looks very similar to several different mental health disorders, and telling the difference is not always easy.  If you think a loved one might have a problem with alcohol or drugs, reach out to the professionals at Wellness Center NJ for expert advice.

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