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The definition of drug addiction

When does drug abuse become drug addiction? To answer that question, we’ll first need to give you a definition of drug addiction, as well as the common signs and symptoms. Plus, we’ll also share two very different stories about dealing with drug addiction. If you struggle with drug addiction, talk to us today about your options including detox and drug rehab.

What is drug addiction?

What is drug addiction? Well, addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that’s characterised by compulsive drug use, regardless of the harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain’s structure and how it works. These changes can be long lasting and lead to harmful, self-destructive, behaviours.

What is drug addiction

If you’re worried that drugs could be taking over your life, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I feel the need to take the drug regularly?
  • Do I have to use more to get the same effect?
  • Have I promised to give up but carried on?
  • If I try to stop or cut down do I/they feel depressed, anxious or unwell?
  • Have I lost interest in family, friends, hobbies or work?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, and are concerned about the situation, it is possible that you’ve developed a drug addiction and that professional help is needed.

Signs and symptoms of drug abuse

Signs and symptoms of drug abuse can vary according to the substance a person uses. Some of the more common physical signs of drug abuse are:

  • Bloodshot eyes and larger or smaller pupils.
  • Sudden weight loss or gain.
  • Deterioration of physical appearance.
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.
  • Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination.

But there can also be behavioural and psychological signs to look out for, such as:

  • Poor attendance at work.
  • Suspicious or secretive behaviour.
  • Financial difficulties.
  • Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts.
  • Lack of motivation; appears lethargic or ‘spaced out.’
  • Unexplained changes in personality or attitude.
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness.
  • Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid.

Charlotte and Barbara’s stories

Drug addiction can and does happen to anyone. Charlotte, 20, from Wilmslow was a self-confessed ‘wild child’ who’s love of partying led to an expensive cocaine addiction that threatened to hijack her law studies.

“It got way out of hand,” said Charlotte. “At one stage I was going out six nights a week and using coke on most of them. My flatmate, and best friend, came to talk to me. She told me that she barely saw me these days and was upset that we’d drifted apart so much.

“It made me realise that I probably hadn’t been paying much attention to my friends, family, or studies for quite some time. That very day I contacted Port of Call for some Addiction help,” she added.

Read more of Charlotte’s story about her journey from Grade A student to Class A cocaine addict and how Port of Call helped her to take back control.

After Jack, 19, from Bolton narrowly avoided a jail sentence for burglary, to fuel his crack addiction, his mother Barbara was desperate to get her son back. A call to Port of Call prompted a family intervention that was such a revelation to Jack that he signed up for rehab there and then.

“Port of Call put us in touch with a team of professionals who would run our intervention,” said Barbara. “They advised us to get an intervention team together, arrange a suitable venue where Jack would feel comfortable, and talked us through a treatment plan.”

Read Barbara’s story in full about how a family intervention helped her son to curb his addiction and take control of his life once more.

At Port of Call we understand how complex these situations can be because we have been there too. We have been through them and have reached recovery. You can too. With us there at every step of the journey to help you navigate towards the right treatment at the right time.

Contact us today to find out more about our Addiction Support services, including private rehab, and What can be treated/Drugs through our network of addiction experts.

About the author: Alex Molyneux

Alex is our admissions team leader. Over the last 5 years he has spoken with more than 10,000 people via our helpline and has organised over 1,000 detox and rehabilitation placements.

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