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Lifestyle:  Addiction to Drugs or Alcohol

Some professionals categorize three types of people who drink and use drugs; Social Users, Substance Abusers and Addicts. They consider Social Users those people who are supposedly trying to make something more out of otherwise positive, upbeat social situation – be it an interview, sporting event, date, family gathering or other activity where people are together. The user may be uncomfortable and try drugs to feel more at ease, to fit in, to feel less inhibited or any other number of mood-alterations, instead of simply not going or facing reality and participating in healthier situations for himself or herself. And supposedly, as a result of this social drug or alcohol use, these Social Users do not report negative consequences like being out of control or exhibiting any bad behaviors.

Substance abusers, on the other hand, who supposedly use alcohol or drugs in light of negative experiences or episodes, as well as positive ones, report some negative effects. In general, though, instances seem relatively minor to them, like lampshades on heads or broken promises and after-party complaints. Sometimes only one negative issue will surface afterwards; sometimes a combination of issues will surface. At this stage, one is somewhere between the less and more serious categories.

For Abusers, a number of negative consequences result, regardless of whether or not the alcohol or drugs are taken for positive, negative, any and all reasons. From one to any combination of the following negatives are often reported; negative reoccurrence of the same bad behaviors (maybe broken lamps from tripping instead of lampshades on heads), broken promises and broken limits set beforehand, mental mania or diving into deep subjects (almost in a psychological way), denial (of being drunk or high), crying jag or emotional outbursts, memory loss or confusion, and many (repeated) complaints are brought to light after the events by others.

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Drugs and Alcohol Addiction Behaviors / Traits

Regardless of the type of alcohol or drug dependent person, addiction or dependence is characterized by professional standards according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) (1994). To sum up, the DSM-IV identifies an addict as having three or more of the following “symptoms” within a year’s time period:

  • Mental thoughts focused on the substance (alcohol or drugs) even when not using.
  • Withdrawal from society, friends, loved ones, normal activities – to focus on continued substance use.
  • Using more than expected
  • Substance abuse even though negative consequences directly result from the abuse (at any level: physical, emotional, social, work-related, etc.)
  • Attempts to stop or “control” use and withdrawal symptoms develop (shakes, hallucinations, cravings, etc.)
  • Tolerance levels can change; i.e. it takes more and more to get and sustain a drunk or high state

Drugs and Alcohol Addiction Help
Similar to the key to getting help for co-dependency, the key to getting help for drug and alcohol addiction is first in acknowledging the problem, then in getting help. Check out library books on co-dependency and to find helpful resources. Search the Yellow Pages, online search engines, 12-Step Groups listed in community calendars, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics (or the specific drug name like “Cocaine”) Anonymous, etc.


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