Addiction is a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity (drugs, gambling, pornography), despite harmful consequences to the individual’s health, mental state or social life. It is a dependence to a substance. This dependence is so strong that it may seem as if the person is unable to break away from it or live without it. It becomes a form of slavery to a substance or activity – slaves of drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography.
Stages of Addiction:
First time drug use is not safe,many started with “trying” it out. Even people who claim that they just experiment are called DRUG USERS.
The cross over from occasional use (“Christmas users”) to regular use is very quick. It happens without realising it. If you think that you are an occasional user, look back at where, when and why you started and you’ll see that things have changed.
When occasions like clubbing, parties or chilling is not enough and the user takes it on a weekly or monthly basis.
Some druggies comfort themselves with the idea that “at least I’m not out on the streets” or “as bad as so and so”. This is just another form of denial.
Remember, even if someone just uses highly addictive substances like Meth, or nicotine, they can quickly cross from normal use into the lines of abuse or dependency — most of the time without knowing that they have crossed that line. There are no guarantees…using drugs can be like playing with fire or Russian rolette. Most users think they can control it, but it always controls them!
Abuse: These are the signs (Self-test)
1. When using — or recovering from use — causes you to be unable to fulfill a major obligation in your life — either at home, work, school or with friends. For instance:
• calling in sick to work or bunking school
• being too crashed / babbelas / hang-over (after use) / on a come-down OR too high or drunk to perform at work or school
• cancelling on friends
• not paying your bills
• missing classes at school
It becomes abuse when it happens because of drugs or alcohol.
2. Using has a strong, negative psychological impact on you. Feelings of shame, regret or embarrassment about what you do when you’re high or the fact that you got high or drunk again. It could also be the grief of having lost a friend or a job because of your use.
3. You continue to use even though you’re having trouble with your friends, teachers, family or boss because of the addiction. This could mean always getting in the same argument with them or that you keep losing friends. Or because you feel like you’ve got to avoid friends and family because you’re either high, drunk or on a come down (crashing) or babbelas.
4. You continue to use even though while using you keep putting yourself in physically dangerous situations. This can mean pre-marital sex, physical risk of getting HIV, hurt, fighting or raped. Or, it could mean driving while intoxicated, going to dangerous parts of town or your area (Taverns, shebeens, night clubs), etc.
5. Legal problems start cropping up. This can range from being busted (arrested) — or from not having enough money for bills, to being arrested for public intoxication or drunken driving.
Dependency is often used interchangeably with addiction, although addiction often starts with the “use” phase. Dependency simply means that you would have a hard time living or functioning without the substance, and that either using or not using is causing significant distress. What can be confusing is that the difficulties with giving up the drug could come and go throughout the day, week or month. It doesn’t have to be all the time.
Here’s another way to think about dependency. Or having fun is dependent on the drug or being drunk. My sanity depends on the drug. These are the most common red flags of dependency:
1. Tolerance — your body’s gotten used to the drug, so that:
• To get high, you need to do a lot more or more often than you used to. A trip or a night out just isn’t what it used to be.
• You can do a lot in one night when half that much used to send you to the moon.
2. You use more and more just to avoid the crash or babbelas.
3. You use more and more frequently.
4. More often than not, you wind up taking more than you intended.
5. More often than not, you stay high or drunk for longer than you intended.
6. There is a persistent desire to control your use.
7. There have been unsuccessful attempts to stop using.
8. A great deal of time is consumed by the drug –either being high/drunk, getting it or recovering from it.
9. You give up (or practically give up) important social, recreational or work/school related activities because of using.
10. You use even though you know you have a problem and it keeps bringing problems into your life.
Some other thoughts on Addiction
• Loss of control. Addicts are unable to manage their behavior or their use of a substance. They may decide to quit the behavior or using the substance one day and then fall back into the habit the next day.
• Tolerance. In most forms of addiction, a person needs more and more of the substance or behavior over time. Early in an addiction, a person may need only one “hit” of heroin a day. A few months later, he or she may need two, six, or a dozen “hits” to get the same response.
• Impairment. Addicts often continue to use a substance or demonstrate a behavior even when they know the undesirable effects it may have. For example, a gambling addict may continue to wager money even though he or she has lost everything in previous gambling experiences.
ARE YOU AN ADDICT or ALCOHOLIC?
Answer these 20 simple questions to find out…
1. Do you lose time off school or work and their activities because of taking drugs or drinking? YES / NO
2. Is taking drugs or drinking making you home life unhappy in any way? YES / NO
3. Do you drink or take drugs because you are shy or uncomfortable with othe people? Does it give you courage? YES / NO
4. Is your drinking or drugging affecting your reputation in any way? YES / NO
5. Have you ever felt bad or ashamed because of your dependence or addiction? YES / NO
6. Have you ever got into financial difficulties because of drinking or drugging – owing your friends / colleagues money or stealing from your family? YES / NO
7. Do you go places you normally wouldn’t to drink or get drugs? YES / NO
8. Do you stop caring about your family when you take drugs or when you drink? YES / NO
9. Have you become less ambitious because of drugs or drinking? YES / NO
10. Do you crave drugs or drink during the day, even while at school or work, or spending time with your friends who do not take drugs? YES / NO
11. Do you want to have a drink or take drugs as soon as you wake up in the morning? YES / NO
12. Does your drinking or drugging interfere with your sleeping? Does it prevent you from sleeping or prevent you from sleeping without taking drugs or drinking? YES / NO
13. Has your efficiency at school, sport, work or other activities decreased since you started taking drugs or drinking? YES / NO
14. Is your drinking or drug-taking jeopardising your schooling, career or sports future? YES / NO
15. Do you drink or take drugs to get away from worries? YES / NO
16. Do you drink/take drugs on your own? YES / NO
17. Have you ever lost your memory or forgot about things because of drinking or drugging? YES / NO
18. Have you ever been treated for addiction? YES / NO
19. Do you take drugs or drink to build up your self-confidence? YES / NO
20. Have you ever landed in hospital because of a situation relating to taking drugs or drinking? YES / NO
- IF you answered YES to any of these questions, there is a definite warning that you may be and ADDICT.
- IF you have answered YES to two of these questions the chances are that you are an ADDICT.
- IF you answered YES to three or more of these questions, YOU ARE AN ADDICT and must get help.
Information: SANCA guidelines based on John Hopkins University Hospital’s questionnaire.
What Are the Physical Signs of Abuse or Addiction?
The physical signs of abuse or addiction can vary depending on the person and the drug being abused. In
addition, each drug has short-term and long-term physical effects. For example, someone who abuses
marijuana may have a chronic cough or worsening of asthmatic conditions. Stimulants like cocaine increase heart rate and blood pressure, whereas opioids like heroin may slow the heart rate and reduce respiration.