3 Signs of Addiction

When does the recreational use of a drug or alcohol turn into something more sinister? Since therapists now understand that signs of addiction are symptoms of a disease, is it possible to catch it early? Perhaps more importantly, do you recognize these signs in yourself or a loved one?

Addiction or Abuse?

Typically, abuse starts with the recreational use of a drug. It may also refer to the use of prescription medication in off-label ways. When misuse changes into addiction, the user no longer has control over whether or not to take the drug. There are three signs of addiction.

Physical and Behavioral Signs of Addiction

The most obvious indication that someone has a drug problem is a change in weight and health. If a loved one loses a lot of weight in a short period, it could be a symptom of stimulant abuse. Bloody noses, red eyes, skin abscesses that don’t heal, and oral health problems also point to an addiction problem. You may notice increased sweat and body odors as well.

Behavioral signs are harder to spot since people are good at hiding them. Examples may include problems at work or school, frequent absences from family events, and an unwillingness to welcome visitors. Self-imposed isolation and increasing secrecy about activities and new peer groups accompany drug abuse. You may notice someone with unexpected financial problems who sells personal property such as furniture or heirloom jewelry.

Emotional Signs Underscore the Changes Addiction Creates

If someone has an underlying mental illness alongside an addiction, therapists refer to them as co-occurring disorders. Each can worsen the other one. In some situations, a psychological disorder may go undiagnosed, which leads to the need to treat both diseases. Failure to do so makes a relapse more likely.

Below is what therapists at high-quality rehab centers look at for potential dual diagnosis patients.

  • Assessment. Clinicians assess program participants’ abilities to relate and interact with others. They look for extreme changes in mood and sleeping patterns.
  • Dual diagnosis treatment. After an exhaustive evaluation, those struggling with an addiction and a mental illness receive treatment for both conditions.
  • Residential treatment. This level of care exists at the residential care level, where program participants receive the highest level of support.

Another emotional sign that someone suffers from a substance abuse problem is defensiveness when others ask about it. A person may be in denial and doesn’t want to examine this aspect of daily life. If a loved one does admit to having a problem, her or she most likely plays down the seriousness of the situation. People in this situation may blame shift, lie, and justify their behaviors.

Don’t Wait to Get Help!

Overcoming an addiction isn’t something you can do at home or with the aid of friends. Those who have an addiction need professional drug addiction treatment that assists individuals with overcoming cravings and compulsions. At 1st Step Behavioral Health, talk and family therapies, as well as holistic treatments, assist people to overcome addiction.

Don’t wait any longer. Call (866) 319-6126 now to connect with a caring counselor!

Top 5 Movies About Drug Addiction [Infographic]


Movies about drug addiction aren’t always completely factual. However, they can be one way to learn more about how addiction impacts addicts as well as their loved ones. Watching movies about drug addiction, like these top 5 picks, is a gateway to understanding more about the world of addiction.

Trainspotting: No-Holds-Barred View of Heroin Addiction

In Trainspotting, Ewan McGregor plays the main character, a man who struggles with an addiction to heroin. This movie doesn’t gloss over the downsides of a heroin addiction. Instead, it focuses on the horrible realities that addiction can cause. Viewers who watch Trainspotting will see the gritty details of heroin addiction as well as some of the dangers of going through withdrawal without medical assistance.

Requiem for a Dream: How Drug Addiction Impacts All Types of People

The ensemble cast of Requiem for a Dream all struggle with different types of addiction. One woman develops an addiction to amphetamines in order to boost appearance, while others are addicted to heroin. Each character makes devastating choices in order to secure more drugs and continue his or her addiction.

Midnight Cowboy: Pulling Back the Curtain on Addiction

In 1969, when Midnight Cowboy was released, average Americans didn’t know what a heroin addiction was or who it impacted. In this film starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, the audience sees how ordinary individuals can succumb to the allure and addictive nature of drugs like heroin.

Traffic: Drug Addiction From All Angles

Many movies dealing with substance abuse only relay the perspective of the user or their family members. In Traffic, it’s possible to see how many groups react and respond to drug trafficking. The movie deals with officers of the Drug Enforcement Agency, drug users and drug traffickers in the United States as well as in Mexico.

The Wolf of Wall Street: Drug Addiction Can Cause People to Lose Everything

Leonardo DiCaprio has the starring role in the Wolf of Wall Street, a film following the career and success of a man in the financial industry. While there are some funny bits to the movie, and the emphasis is on the economy, drug addiction is a driver of the storyline. The main character might be at the top of his career while using drugs, but eventually, it catches up to him.

Real Life vs Movies About Drug Addiction

Watching movies can provide insight into the world of drug addiction, but it can’t provide answers. For help, resources, and treatment, call (866) 319-6126 to learn more about 1st Step Behavioral Health in Pompano Beach, Florida.

Is Drug Addiction a Disease?

The question, “Is drug addiction a disease?”, is a relevant one. Although most medical groups and researchers say that it is, some people debate it. It’s a mistake to think that drug use is the result of poor morals or willpower. Learn more about what makes drug addiction a disease to gain a better understanding of how and why it happens.

Is Drug Addiction a Disease?

Drug addiction is a complex disease that causes individuals to compulsively use one or more drugs. It’s the result of a combination of behavioral, biological and environmental factors.

Most people start using drugs of their own free will, whether it be alcohol, heroin or something in between. However, some individuals develop addictions to drugs that their doctors prescribe. Repeat and long-term use of all addictive drugs lead to chemical changes in the brain that can cause addiction.

The chemical changes in the brain affect its motivation and reward system and cause serious damage to health and relationships. This makes it hard for people to quit using even when they want to. As a result, many must seek treatment.

When the changes in the brain persist, it’s hard for people in recovery to remain sober. This doesn’t mean that the treatment didn’t work. Recovery is a lifelong commitment that requires constant addiction management.

How Do Drugs Affect the Brain?

Most drugs affect the brain by stimulating the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls pleasure. Excessive amounts of dopamine create the high that people feel when they take drugs and make them want to take more.

The brain adjusts to the high levels of dopamine. Then it either makes less of it or reduces the ability of the cells to respond. This lessens the effects, so users have to take higher amounts of the drugs to achieve the same pleasure.

Drug addiction can cause stress and change how users behave. The chemical changes can also affect brain functions such as:

  • Judgment
  • Learning
  • Making decisions
  • Memory

Why Do Some People Argue That Addiction Is a Disease?

Some people argue that drug addiction isn’t a disease because people choose to use alcohol or drugs. Although the first or early use could be voluntary, continued use is the result of chemical changes in the brain.

Additionally, choice doesn’t decide what is and isn’t a disease. Diabetes and heart disease, for example, may involve personal diet and exercise choices. These diseases are the result of people’s choices just like drug addiction, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re diseases.

Other people say that drug addiction isn’t a disease because treatment isn’t always necessary for recovery. Although people with mild addictions might not need help, those with serious addictions typically need intensive treatment.

Drug Addiction Treatment at 1st Step Behavioral Health

It’s not safe for individuals to try to stop taking drugs on their own because of how addiction changes the brain. They need to seek treatment to protect their well-being and learn how to manage the disease. The staff at 1st Step Behavioral Health offers the help that they need.

Since mental health disorders can develop alongside substance abuse, 1st Step Behavioral Health is prepared for this as well. The staff is trained to address addiction and other mental health disorders such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Now that you know the answer to “is drug addiction a disease?”, you’re prepared to get the help you need. Don’t let drug addiction completely change who you are. You can defeat the disease by getting help from a quality rehab clinic. Call 1st Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 to begin your recovery.