While some individuals are capable of engaging in occasional substance abuse without suffering from the consequences of addiction, many others are surprised to find themselves entrenched in dependency.

How can you tell when a casual relationship with a potentially dangerous drug has resulted in addiction?

By being honest with yourself and considering the following contributing factors, you can make an earnest assessment about whether or not your substance use has escalated toward a dangerous path.

Who Can Become Addicted?

No matter what you might expect, anyone can become addicted to drugs or alcohol, regardless of any demographic metric. However, while everyone has the innate potential to become addicted to drugs or alcohol, there are certain factors that can increase the likelihood of addiction. These risks are a combination of environmental, biological, and drug-related factors.

Environmental circumstances include elements such as the influence of peers, the home and family situation (especially when a parental figure has a casual attitude toward substance abuse or engages in it themselves), and the community’s perspective on drug use. Biological factors, such a genetic predisposition for chemical dependency or a mental health disorder, can also increase the likelihood of addiction. Factors directly related to the substance itself can also affect the propensity for abuse, including the availability and cost of the substance of choice, or the method of administration.

Common Symptoms

One method of determining whether you are addicted is to consider if you display certain common symptoms of dependency. Those who are addicted to a substance frequently find themselves changing their eating or sleeping habits. They may suffer from a decrease in productivity or a loss of interest in the hobbies and activities they were once passionate about. An increase in tolerance can also suggest addiction, as regular use results in a larger amount of the substance being necessary in order to achieve the desired effect. Blackouts and memory loss are also common symptoms.

Some symptoms manifest once use of the substance has temporarily ceased. For example, someone who is addicted may begin to… (continue reading)