Addiction Problem? How to Tell and What to Do

Thursday, 14 Jul 2011 08:30 AM

 

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1. Understand addiction

What exactly is an addiction? With a substance addiction, two things are usually going on, according to AddictionsandRecovery.org: You have difficulty controlling how much you drink or how much drugs you use, and you keep on using despite the terrible consequences that occur.

What’s more, just because you’re abusing drugs doesn’t mean you can’t function day to day. There is a spectrum of behavior with drug and alcohol abuse — at one end is the person who loses his job, cannot maintain a normal life, and has to use every day. On the other end is the person who is able to keep a job and her relationships but her life still suffers. That is the most typical type of substance abuse situation, experts say.
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2. Recognize the signs


One of the most common addictions today is to prescription pain medicines like oxycodone. While many such addictions are associated with illicit use, some addictions can start after a person has taken the medicine for legitimate health reasons. The people most likely to become addicted to narcotics are those who have a family history of addiction or who have been previously hooked on other substances, says WebMD.com.

A person may be addicted if he:
• Appears to have lost control over using the medicine.
• Uses it more often, including taking it for other reasons besides pain, like when he is depressed.
• Takes medication prescribed for someone else.

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3. Curb your drinking

Many of us drink alcohol at social gatherings, celebrations, or when we are alone. Perhaps you’ve been thinking you would like to control your drinking better because of health or relationship reasons. Harvard Health Publications recommends talking to your doctor about whether you should curb or quit drinking altogether. (People who are alcohol dependent or have other mental or medical problems should completely give it up, Harvard Health advises.)

If you want to cut your drinking back, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests doing it by:
• Writing down the reasons you should reduce your alcohol intake, such as sleeping better.
• Setting a limit on how much you’ll drink. Your doctor can help you decide on an amount.
• Pacing yourself and sipping slowly when you do drink.
For more tips, go here.

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4. Talk to your loved one


It’s never easy to discuss with your loved one your concern about his substance abuse problem. AddictionsandRecovery.org advises against doing it when the person is under the influence, and to keep the discussion positive but firm as you try and convince him that he has a problem. Be prepared for denials and excuses for why he drinks or uses drugs, but don’t coddle or enable him. It’s also important to be realistic but not too dramatic, and to assure him that you and other family members will support his efforts to get help.
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5. Consult your doctor

If you fear that you or your loved one has an addiction problem, talk to your doctor. She can refer you to professional help and perhaps detail what options may be best. Depending on the severity of the addiction, detoxification from the drug of choice may be necessary. Counseling, 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, and inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs all can help you get clean and sober and assist you in remaining that way.

What’s more, established medicine is increasingly viewing substance abuse as a physical and not solely a psychological diagnosis with the introduction by 10 medical institutions of the first accredited residency programs in addiction medicine. So next year some 200 students from those one-year programs, including at Boston University Medical Center and St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, will be practicing in the specialty, adding to available treatment options, according to the New York Times.

© HealthDay

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