Addiction is a complex disease of the risk and reward system in the brain, involving a person’s genes, family history, and environment, among other factors.
There are many substances that a person struggling with addiction could abuse, with different symptoms of intoxication, different paraphernalia, and different long-term consequences. That being said, there are several symptoms of addiction that are the same over many substances.General signs that a person is struggling with addiction include:
While these are general signs that a person may struggle with addiction, each drug has specific signs of intoxication, side effects, overdose symptoms, related paraphernalia, and changes in behavior that may indicate abuse of the substance.
A potent stimulant drug derived from the cacao plant in South America, cocaine in its pure form comes as a white powder. Crack cocaine, a solid form of the drug, became popular in the 1980s as a less expensive alternative to cocaine. Although it is very potent and most commonly abused via black market purchase, cocaine is actually listed as a Schedule II drug with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) because it works well as a localized anesthetic for precise ear, nose, and throat surgeries.
This opioid substance is derived from morphine, and it is chemically similar to opium and other opioid drugs, like oxycodone or hydrocodone. It is very potent, creating a fast rush, with a rapid comedown and associated lethargy. The drug was developed in the 19th century as a safer painkiller compared to morphine, but it was soon found to be extremely addictive. It is now a Schedule I drug per the DEA because of its addictive properties.
The dried leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds from the plant Cannabis sativa contain THC, a central nervous system depressant that leads to relaxation, euphoria, and changes to sensory perception. In some people, marijuana can also induce paranoia, anxiety, depression, and other symptoms. It is one of the most popular recreational drugs, with states all over the US passing laws to legalize medical or recreational use of the substance. Although using this drug is becoming more culturally acceptable, it can still be dangerous to consume and result in addiction.
Items that may be associated with marijuana abuse include glass pipes or bongs, lighters, leftover seeds or stems, rolling papers, and a residual herbal smell.
Meth, which typically refers to a form of methamphetamine called crystal meth, is a stimulant drug found either as a whitish powder or a whitish, yellowish, or brownish crystal. The powder may be snorted, but crystal meth is smoked. It is chemically similar to amphetamine drugs like Ritalin or ecstasy but associated with more aggression and paranoid behaviors.
This is a broad category of drugs that includes stimulant drugs like Ritalin and Adderall; opioid painkillers like OxyContin, Percocet, and fentanyl; benzodiazepines like Xanax or Valium; and other prescribed medicines that can lead to intoxication. Some people may experiment with numerous types of prescription drugs in a pattern of polydrug abuse, while others may struggle with addiction to one specific substance. Opioid dependence is currently the most common form of prescription drug abuse, with benzodiazepines considered a “hidden epidemic” and a close second for substances that are abused.
It is very possible to overcome addiction and lead a healthy, sober life. It simply requires help, social support, and acknowledgement that the problem exists.