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What is Drug Addiction?

Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences. Addiction is considered a brain disorder because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control. Those changes may last a long time after a person has stopped taking drugs.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) [1], addiction is a lot like other diseases, such as heart disease. Both disrupt the normal, healthy functioning of an organ in the body, both have serious harmful effects, and both are, in many cases, preventable and treatable. If left untreated, they can last a lifetime and may lead to death.

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Most Common Drug Addict Behavior

Despite the particular substance, someone is addicted to; they often show certain drug addict behavior traits. These drug addict behaviors tend to be red flags to that person’s loved ones that there is a problem. Drug addict behavior can be scary, frustrating, and make loved ones feel sad and helpless. Below is an overview of some of the typical behaviors of an addict:

Manipulation

  • Manipulation is another common drug addict behavior. Addicts will say and do anything to keep fueling their addiction, and this includes manipulating the people closest to them. They may try tactics like denial, or guilt as part of their manipulation. The person who loves an addict will often fall for the manipulation and delusions of an addict because they want to believe what they’re saying so badly. Drug addicts will continue manipulating the people closest to them time and time again, and it can go on for years without any real change in the actual addict behavior.

Drug Addict Behavior
Even though addiction is defined as a mental illness, that doesn’t mean that dealing with a drug addict behavior isn’t incredibly difficult for loved ones.

Lying

  • One of the number one things that tend to define a drug addict’s behavior is lying. There are many different reasons for addict behavior includes lying. The first is because addicts need to cover their own. They will often have to lie to cover where money went and when they were used. For many people dealing with an addict’s behavior, lying is the first sign there is a problem [2].

Criminality

  • Another drug addict behavior that can be a red flag is criminality. Not all drug addicts will become criminals, but many do. They will do things like stealing in order to continue getting drugs, or they may commit crimes like forging prescriptions, depending on their drug of choice. There are also indirect criminal behaviors such as driving under the influence or violence.
  • Much of it may involve stealing, either drugs or the money to buy them. But for drug addicts often become impulsive and lose their capacity to make wise decisions, which leads them into other kinds of trouble as well (i.e., driving while intoxicated, getting involved in fights or incidents of domestic violence, choosing dangerous and untrustworthy companions, visiting high-crime districts in search of drugs, etc.).

Neglectfulness

  • As drug addiction deepens, sufferers will begin to neglect their responsibilities as family members, parents, friends, employees, students, and citizens. Drugs become their priority, and the physical and emotional toll of their drug abuse can make it difficult to manage—or even remember—their personal responsibilities.

Shifting the blame

  • A drug addict behavior that’s often seen is shifting the blame. Addicts don’t want to be responsible for their own. They want things to be the fault of other people, no matter what.

Obsession

  • Many individuals with addiction obsess over obtaining alcohol or drugs as well. Once they get their mind set on something, focusing on anything else is difficult. This may lead to anxiety or irritability which often feeds addictive behavior.

Unfortunately dealing with a drug addict behavior also usually means they’re abusive. It can be verbal or physical. This isn’t because the addict is inherently a bad person, but instead, it’s often because they don’t live in reality, and they may perceive threats that don’t exist.

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How to Deal with A Drug Addict Behavior

As unpredictable and scary as the drug addict behavior can be, how do you deal with it? First, it’s crucial to understand that you are not the cause of the drug addict behavior, no matter what sorts of manipulation ploys they may use on you. It’s also necessary when learning about the drug addict behavior that you know the reality of the situation. Don’t let yourself get drawn into the fantasy world of the drug addict.

Once you have accepted the reality of the situation, you can start dealing with the drug addict behavior by setting boundaries. Boundaries are very important for the addict, but also for your own welfare. You should be concise, clear, and consistent.

You should also understand that you can’t learn how to change your drug addict behavior. All you can do is arrange an intervention, try to drive the addict to seek medical treatment, and stay firm when it comes to adhering to your boundaries. You can’t change an addict or addict behavior, no matter how hard you try.

You should learn that dealing with an addict’s behavior relies on a commitment not to enable the addict, and you can never give in to manipulation. Addicts hate to hear no, but when you’re willing to say that, it’s one of the most effective ways of dealing with drug addict behavior.

Finally, you should put your focus on taking care of yourself instead of how to change addictive behavior. Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean you’re selfish, but it does mean that you are ensuring your own needs are met, even in the wake of the often highly destructive behaviors of an addict.

Consequences of Drug Addiction 

Drug addiction causes huge life complications that go beyond its direct effects on someone’s health. Drug addicts lose the ability to meet their obligations, manage their daily affairs, or attend to the needs of others, and the result is unemployment, broken relationships, financial catastrophe, frequent victimization at the hands of others, encounters with law enforcement, and helplessness in the face of repeated failures and disappointments.

If nothing is done, drug addicts may eventually lose everything, possibly even their lives if they are not careful:

  • Drug overdose is now the number one cause of accidental death in the United States.
  • People suffering from substance use disorders are six times more likely to commit suicide than members of the general public.
  • Drugs were involved in 43 percent of fatal automobile accidents in 2016, which surpasses the percentage of crashes that involved alcohol consumption [3].

The consequences of continued substance abuse highlight the urgency and importance of drug addiction treatment and rehab, which can offer a lifeline to those who are on the brink of disaster.

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Why Do People Take Drugs?

In general, individuals take drugs for various reasons:

To feel good

  • Drugs or substances can create intense feelings of pleasure. This initial euphoria is followed by other effects, which differ from the type of drug used. For instance, with stimulants such as cocaine and meth, the high is followed by feelings of self-confidence, power, and increased energy. In contrast, the euphoria caused by opioids such as heroin is followed by feelings of satisfaction and relaxation [4].

To feel better

  • Some individuals who struggle with stress, social anxiety, and depression start using drugs to try to feel less anxious. Stress can play a major role in starting and continuing drug use as well as relapse (return to drug use) in people recovering from drug addiction.

To do better

  • Some individuals feel pressure to enhance their focus in work or at school or their abilities in sports. This can play a vital role in trying or continuing to use drugs, such as cocaine or prescription stimulants.

Curiosity and social pressure

  • In this regard, some people are particularly at risk because peer pressure can be very strong. Adolescence is a developmental period during which the presence of risk factors, such as peers who use drugs, may lead to substance use.

How to Tell if Someone is Using Drugs?

Substance use affects individuals from all socioeconomic statuses and all walks of life. Whatever the reason someone starts taking drugs, whether recreationally or as prescribed, tolerance, physical dependence, patterns of increased use, and, ultimately, addiction may develop—sometimes before the user even realizes it.

Drug Addict Behavior
The truth is, there’s no single face of addiction. Anyone can develop patterns of abuse or drug addict behaviors, no matter their age, culture, or financial status.

When a full-blown substance use disorder (SUD) or addiction develops, it can be very difficult to stop using drugs without professional treatment and support. Drug use can create damage to the mind and body and may eventually become deadly. When you realize that you or someone you love has a problem, it’s essential to get help right away. There is no shame in admitting that you need treatment for drug use; doing so can be life-saving. Learn about drug detox helplines.

The use of most substances will produce noticeable symptoms and signs. These may include behavioral or physical symptoms—most likely both.

What are the physical signs of drug abuse?

Some of the most obvious symptoms of drug use are those that affect certain physiological processes. For instance, your body’s tolerance to a substance or drug develops when a drug is used long or often enough that it adapts to the consistently elevated presence of the substance. When tolerance grows, increased quantities or strengths are required to achieve the previous effects.

People using a drug to get high may come to take such large doses to overcome their tolerance that they place themselves at increased risk of potentially deadly overdose.

Changes in appearance can be additional clues to possible drug use and may include:

  • Bloodshot or glazed eyes
  • Skin changes
  • Dilated or constricted pupils
  • Dental issues
  • Abrupt weight changes
  • Changes in hygiene
  • Problems sleeping or sleeping too much

Signs will vary based on the substance and the method used (i.e., smoking, injection, etc.).

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What are the behavioral signs of drug abuse? 

Drug use tends to significantly change a person’s habits and behavior. Some drugs can damage the brain’s ability to focus and think clearly [5].

Changes in behavior, such as the following, are sometimes associated with problematic substance use:

  • Increased aggression or irritability
  • Changes in attitude/personality
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Sudden changes in a social network
  • Dramatic changes in habits and/or priorities
  • Involvement in criminal activity

Learning to identify the behavioral and physical signs of drug use can help prevent the problem from progressing further.

Find the Right Treatment Plan at We Level Up NJ

If you have identified some of these signs in yourself or someone you love who shows drug addict behavior, you may want to reach out to an intervention specialist. Addiction is difficult to talk about, even with those you are very close to. An intervention specialist will help your family approach the topic of addiction with clarity and understanding and can provide invaluable support and advice. We Level Up NJ provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to medically assist your recovery. So, reclaim your life, call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Drug Addict Behavior
Substance abuse can also lead to drug addict behaviors that strain relationships and inhibit daily activities.

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Sources:

[1] NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-misuse-addiction

[2] NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/international/abstracts/characteristics-drug-dependent-people

[3] NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/drugged-driving

[4] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3047254/

[5] NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction