How to Recognize the Signs of Needing Drug Treatment

Addiction has touched thousands of families in the past few years, and it seems like it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Addiction can affect anyone, and it’s not limited by demographics or geographical location.

To combat the growing epidemic, there are drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers all over the United States that are committed to helping people who are suffering from a substance use disorder. However, sometimes the lines between “one too many” and addiction can be difficult to discern. Especially in the early stages, it can be difficult to tell if addiction treatment is really necessary for you or a loved one.

Table of Contents

However, catching a substance use disorder early often leads to more favorable outcomes. Plus, the less time you spend in active addiction, the less likely you are to experience severe consequences like infectious diseases, legal issues, and health concerns. If you or someone you know is using prescription drugs, alcohol, or illicit drugs in excess, it’s worth knowing the signs of addiction.

Addiction treatment with evidence-based therapies is the safest and most effective way for someone with a substance use disorder to achieve long-term sobriety and recovery. Learn more about the signs and symptoms that might reveal a need for addiction treatment services.

Battling addiction? Don’t go it alone. Request a call from one of our addiction experts today!

Battling addiction? Don’t go it alone. Request a call from one of our addiction experts today!


What Qualifies as a Substance Use Disorder?

Substance use disorders are officially defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is the handbook that helps doctors and psychiatric professionals identify and diagnose mental health issues. Before 2013, drug abuse and substance dependence were in two separate categories. From a biological standpoint, this separation makes sense. Dependence is a term that describes a chemical imbalance in the brain whereas abuse doesn’t necessarily point to anything biological.

However, in the fifth edition of the DSM, abuse, and dependency were combined into substance abuse disorders (SUD). The disorder can be broken up into specific categories like opioid use disorder or alcohol use disorder. SUDs can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on a set of criteria.

If you use alcohol in excess, to the point of binge drinking or if you use medication or an illicit drug recreationally, it can be considered substance abuse. You may also be abusing a substance if you use them to self-medicate outside of a doctor’s recommendation. Abuse without dependence may be considered a mild SUD, but it still should be addressed as soon as possible.

Signs of Drug Addiction in Yourself

If you have been using a chemical substance like alcohol, prescriptions, or illicit drugs, there are a number of signs that may be able to tell you that you need addiction treatment. The first sign that a drug is starting to cause changes in your brain and body is tolerance. It’s often a point of pride in social drinking to be able to handle more alcohol than other people. However, it means that your central nervous system is starting to become used to the foreign substance in your system. As tolerance builds, your brain is producing chemicals to counteract the effects of the drug to balance brain chemistry.

Some drugs will cause tolerance to quickly grow into dependence, which is the next sign that you might be developing a substance use disorder. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “dependence develops when the neurons adapt to the repeated drug exposure and only function normally in the presence of the drug.” That means your body grows to rely on the drug to maintain normalcy. You will notice an emerging dependence if you miss a dose or try to stop using. When your body stops receiving as much of the drug as it used to, your nervous system will become unbalanced, causing painful or uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Ready to get help?

Let our treatment experts call you today.

Withdrawal symptoms can be mild, but if you stop abruptly, they can be more severe. However, the severity of withdrawal symptoms will depend on the type of drug you were taking, the dosage that you were used to, and the length of time you were taking the drug.

The next sign that you may need addiction recovery is when a chemical dependence turns into a deeper addiction. Though they are often used interchangeably, addiction and dependence have some distinctions. Addiction is defined by the continued, compulsive use of a drug despite serious consequences as a result of drug use. This could refer to failing health, problems in your relationships, or job loss. If you are compelled you use a substance even when you know it will do more harm than good, you may be closer to the severe end of the substance use disorder spectrum.

Signs of Drug Addiction in a Loved One

In many cases, friends and family members realize that a loved one is struggling with a SUD even before they do. Again, recognizing the signs of a SUD early can help avoid some of the more costly consequences of addiction. In the very early stages, addiction or substance abuse might be hard to recognize in another person. They may be able to hide it for a time, but eventually, it will be difficult to keep a secret. Addiction will start to manifest in other areas of a person’s like from failing work and school performance to physical symptoms. If you think a friend or family member might be struggling with a particular substance, look for the following symptoms.

addiction signs
  • Loss of control
  • Reckless behavior
  • Obsessive thoughts and actions
  • Lying about drug or alcohol use
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Legal trouble
  • Physical changes
  • Delusions

How Addiction Treatment Helps

Addiction treatment often starts with medical detoxification. In cases where there is a clear medical or psychological condition that needs to be addressed with highly-intensive care, medical detox is the best option. Drugs like benzodiazepines or alcohol that suppress the nervous system can cause potentially deadly symptoms during withdrawal require medical interventions in order to ensure a safe detox. Other drugs, like opioids, are less likely to be fatal in withdrawal, but they can cause extremely uncomfortable flu-like symptoms and dehydration which can be dangerous.

In detox, you will receive 24 hours of care every day for about a week. During that time, a team of medical professionals will ensure that you are safe as you go through detox and they will do their best to minimize and uncomfortable symptoms. After detox, clinicians will work with you to find the best addiction treatment options for continued addiction treatment.

Addiction treatment is a complex, individualized process designed to help you get to the bottom of the underlying issues that lead to your addiction. Through this process, you will learn coping strategies to prevent relapse and any co-occurring mental health issues will be addressed. Your treatment may include a variety of therapy options designed to help you reach your goals.

Seeking Addiction Treatment

If you’ve examined the signs and symptoms of addiction and you believe that you, or someone you know, might need addiction treatment services, help is available. To learn more about treatment options and how you may be able to start your road to recovery, call the addiction specialists at Maryland House Detox.

Calling (888) 263-0631 can be your first step toward long-lasting recovery and a meaningful, productive life outside of the oppression of active addiction. We are standing by to speak to you anytime.