Some people think a drug addict is someone living under a bridge or on the streets. When we think of drug addicts, we often picture desperate criminals or individuals who are down-and-out. Today addiction can be found in every social strata. We struggle to think of our family and friends, let alone ourselves, as people who could be suffering from drug addiction. But the fact is that drug addiction is a problem that affects millions of Americans every day, from every walk of life.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called drug addiction a “deadly epidemic.” Statistics show that 100 people die every day in the United States from drug overdoses, a number that has more than tripled since 1990. Many of these deaths are caused by prescription painkiller addiction, one of the most significant and troubling addiction problems facing the U.S. right now. In 2010, 2 million people reported using prescription painkillers non-medically—meaning without a prescription, or for reasons outside of a doctor’s orders—for the first time. That’s roughly 5,500 people a day.
10 Signs of Being a Drug Addict
The majority of people who become hooked on prescription painkillers start out taking them for a medically prescribed reason, such as recovering from an injury or surgery. Prescription painkiller addiction can be a gateway drug for heroin use, and roughly half of all prescription painkiller overdose deaths involve some other drug, including alcohol.
What all this means is that drug addicts can be anyone, anywhere. And while it can be harder than ever to spot the signs of addiction in yourself or a loved one, it’s also never been more important. Warning signs of drug addiction or abuse vary from person to person, but here are a few to look out for:
- Loss of interest in work, school, socializing, family, or hobbies.
- Decreased motivation.
- Sudden changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
- Sudden, unexplained weight loss or weight gain.
- Mood swings. Irritability, agitation, angry outburst or other violent shifts in mood.
- Becoming withdrawn, suspicious, or paranoid.
- Problems with relationships, especially regarding drug use or unexplained behaviors.
- Using drugs under dangerous conditions, or engaging in risky behaviors while on drugs or in order to get drugs.
- Legal trouble related to drug use or behaviors engaged in while on drugs or in order to obtain drugs.
- Physical symptoms such as bloodshot eyes, tremors, irregular pupil dilation, or unexplained seizures.
These are just a few of the symptoms that can point to drug addiction. At the end of the day if you think that you or a loved one might be a drug addict, seek help. Our modern understanding of drug addiction tells us that it’s a disease, not a failure of the will. Drug addiction can be treated and overcome with the right help.