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Early Warning Signs of Addiction

Minimizing, rationalizing, and deceiving yourself about the power of a particular substance are common themes when it comes to addiction. You don’t want to admit that you could have possibly crossed that line, so you deny that there’s a problem at all. 

It’s especially difficult if you can’t see the signs of addiction. 

Dr. Dave Larson at SourceMD: Integrated Wellness Solutions has extensive experience in helping people accept their addiction, which is a critical step in the treatment and recovery process. 

Here are some of the most common signs of addiction and patterns of behavior.

A word about addiction

According to the Addiction Center, nearly 21 million Americans are addicted to at least one substance, but a mere 10% of them are seeking treatment. 

Between 1999 and 2017, more than 700,000 people died from drug addiction alone. 

Commonly abused substances include:

Each of these substances has powerful effects on your mental and physical health. If you don’t believe that the substance you're using has a hold on you, consider the following signs of addiction.

Psychological signs of addiction

You know you’re addicted to a particular substance when it begins to alter the way you think and behave. Here are some examples:

  1. You use the substance to deal with stressful or difficult life situations. 
  2. You spend time, energy, and money acquiring more of the substance.
  3. You take risks (lying, stealing, etc.) and put yourself in danger to get more of the substance.
  4. The substance is causing health problems, but that still doesn’t stop you.
  5. You’ve tried to quit, but it didn’t work.

Physical signs of addiction

It’s not surprising that any substance you put into your body can and will have a physical effect. But each person may react differently. Here are some signs to watch for:

  1. Your appetite has changed. Whether you’re hungry all the time (common with marijuana use) or aren’t interested in food at all (common with cocaine use), a marked change from your normal hunger may be an indicator of addiction.
  2. Your sleep patterns have changed. Stimulants cause insomnia, and depressants can make you sleep all day. Any sleep disruption can lead to health problems.
  3. You have signs of physical damage, such as liver disease, lung cancer, respiratory diseases, and damaged veins and/or limbs from repeated injections. 
  4. Your body craves the substance and responds negatively when you don’t take it: constipation, diarrhea, sweating, or seizures.
  5. You need more and more to satisfy your craving (meaning you’ve built up tolerance).

Social signs of addiction

Addiction is responsible for wrecking marriages, families, and careers because it becomes the center of the addict’s every thought. Here’s what it might look like:

  1. You no longer participate in your favorite hobbies or sports. This may be because you’re no longer physically able to or because you spend all your time and money on your addiction, or both.
  2. You no longer attend social gatherings or long activities that mean that you can’t access your substance when you need it.
  3. You acquire and use your substance in secrecy, which also means you’ve begun to isolate yourself from others. 
  4. You suddenly have legal issues. While illicit drugs come with direct legal consequences, even legal substances can lead you to make uncharacteristically bad decisions that put you in compromising situations.
  5. You have financial problems because you’ve redirected all your resources to the acquisition of your substance.
  6. You have let your appearance and hygiene go (just ask a friend).

Treating your addiction from every angle

Dr. Larson, double board-certified by the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, specializes in a unique field called integrative psychiatry

This is a holistic approach to your physical and mental health that takes into account all the factors that impact your overall well-being. Given the multiple ways addiction impacts your entire life, integrative psychiatry is the ideal method for addressing your medical and emotional needs through a wide array of traditional and complementary treatments. 

Whether you’re experiencing one or several of these symptoms, you likely have an addiction issue. And while there are countless programs available to help you overcome it, the best one is the approach that cares for your body, mind, and spirit. 

To schedule a consultation with Dr. Larson, call our office in Encinitas, California, at 760-230-1317 or schedule a phone consultation today.  

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