Your Guide to Spotting Addiction
Despite these issues, the addict will keep using drugs and alcohol, whereas the habitual user would not.
What Causes Addiction?
For many, there is a genetic component to addiction. Although no specific addiction gene has been pinpointed, biological makeup contributes to around 50 percent of the cause. Others grow up to be addicts merely due to drug and alcohol abuse being prevalent in the environment they were brought up in. In many cases, what starts off as a mere habit grows into a full-blown addiction.
Often, habits become compulsions that serve to relieve some sort of uncomfortable feeling that the addict doesn’t know how to cope with. This is especially true for those suffering from mental health issues. A reported 29 percent of all mentally ill individuals also struggle with substance abuse. Likewise, drug habits give substances the time they need to form a physical dependence in the user’s body that requires them to keep using. If they don’t, they’ll have to endure the rather unpleasant side effects of withdrawal. So the use perpetuates in an effort to avoid such an experience and the addiction grows deeper.
The Mentally Ill
Last but not least, a huge portion of drug and alcohol abusers are also mentally ill — 53 percent of drug addicts and 37 percent of alcoholics to be exact. Our society often lacks just as much compassion and understanding for the mentally ill as it does for addicts. When the two go hand in hand, the story is no different. Often, people suffering from mental health disorders go undiagnosed or without treatment, serving to further complicate their situation. Around 60 percent of adults and nearly half of young people aged 8 to 15 who were mentally ill received no treatment for their illness in 2012.
In addition, some addicts end up where they are via the misuse of a legitimate prescribed medication for a mental health problem. Most commonly, stimulants and anti-anxiety medications may lead to addiction. Drugs like Adderall and anxiety-treating benzodiazepines are both highly addictive. It is said that using a benzodiazepine for more than three or four weeks can quite easily place you at risk for dependency on it. Drugs like these are quite dangerous considering the ease with which someone can fake symptoms and obtain their own legal prescription. One study touted that an alarming 95 percent of students were able to do just that.
The most common mental health disorders among the mentally ill are depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Around 20 percent of substance abusers in the United States have an anxiety or mood disorder.
Bipolar disorder is highly common among the substance abusing population, consisting of symptoms like racing thoughts, endless energy, and feelings of euphoria. Depression includes symptoms like lethargy, difficulty finding pleasure in anything, and feelings of guilt and hopelessness. Anxiety is just as common as depression — if not more so — and presents with the extreme tension and worry, an accelerated heart rate, nausea, vomiting, and restlessness.