Many professional bodies, including the American Psychiatric Association and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, agree that all levels of alcohol and drug problems, including addiction, are primarily a disease of the brain manifested by compulsive substance use despite its harmful consequences.
Experts generally agree that people with an alcohol and/or drug problem often display two or more of the following behaviours:
How did you score?
2 or 3 Substance use disorder
4 or 5 Serious disorder
6 + Severe disorder/addiction
Even at the lower level, treatment should be sought as studies indicate that substance use disorders are progressive and the chances of getting worse are extremely high. Also, as with other diseases, there are huge advantages in getting treatment at the mild to moderate stages when the condition is less advanced.
Alcoholics, addicts and people with alcohol or drug problems are skilled at concealing the signs, but here's what you should look out for:
Their life revolves around getting and using alcohol and/or drugs. And even If they’re not using, they will be thinking about it. So they may appear distant.
As the need to use becomes more urgent and cravings grow in strength, the result will be increasingly risky behaviour.
They will commonly deny they have a problem. They may become uncommunicative, lie about where they’ve been or who they've been with. If questioned, they may sulk or become angry.
Family relationships and friendships deteriorate. They may change their friends and their routines. Often, there’s a growing tendency to try and control people, situations and things.
This could be the disregard of responsibilities, appearance, or their daily needs. They may exhibit eating disorders such as over or under eating or appear fatigued due to lack of sleep.
They may appear disengaged from life and unwilling to take part in social events. They may be unable to sit still and exhibit indecision, defensiveness or self-pity.
They may have financial problems - you may notice an increasing need to borrow money or over-reliance on credit cards and overdrafts, and even stealing and selling personal possessions.
They may turn up late for work – if at all. Their performance will probably be erratic and unreliable and they may miss business appointments. They may be drinking or using during their lunch break.
If you have a problem with alcohol or drugs, or know someone who does, please get in touch for free, confidential advice.