So you think that someone you know is suffering from addiction, but how can you know for sure? Find out how doctors diagnose addiction, and learn more about what you can do if you, or someone you know, is struggling with addiction. Addiction is a compulsive dependence on a substance, like drugs, or on a behavior, like purging. The path to addiction begins with experimental or recreational use. Maybe you tried cocaine because your friends were doing it. Or perhaps you started gambling during a weekend trip to Atlantic City. You never know when, or if, addiction is going to take hold. That's part of what makes experimenting so risky. Some people can engage in addictive behaviors and never become dependent. Other people can become addicted the first time they try something. Having a family member who is an addict or alcoholic greatly increases YOUR risk of developing an addiction. Many people with an addiction problem do NOT know they have one. No matter what warning signs are present, addicts tend to be blind to their own disease, often finding excuses for their behavior when pressed. People with an addiction might say that all of their friends drink, smoke, do drugs or gamble as much as they do. Or, they might say that they can stop ANY time, but just have no DESIRE to quit. If you think you might have a problem, or know someone who does, here are some of the most common warning signs of addiction. People who are addicts have a compulsive need to use alcohol, drugs or engage in the problem behavior. Hallmarks of addiction, or increasing dependence can include: preoccupation with the substance or activity, the person planning their whole day around said substance or activity, and using more of the substance or participating more frequently in the activity than before. Addicts have a difficult time controlling their use, even though they often have a desire to cut back. They may try to stop, or make deals with themselves that they're ONLY going to drink so much-and then fail. People with a substance or behavior addiction will continue to use even when doing so leads to negative consequences, like losing a job or hurting a family member. Often, they spend a significant amount of time trying to cover up their activities. For instance, if a person has an alcohol problem, they may hide their liquor, avoid phone calls because they're hung over, or downplay how many drinks they've had. The signs for addiction are the same, whether one has a problem with alcohol, prescription drugs, street drugs, or behaviors like binging, purging, spending, gambling or sex. If you think that you, or someone you care about has an addiction problem, talk to someone whom you trust, who can help you find an addiction program in your area.
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012