I was recently interviewed by the Palm Beach Post and was asked about the difference between a habit and an addiction. I felt that the question posed was an excellent one, and one that would be a great first-blog for the ASPS website. Many people may find themselves either minimizing their drug use, or making excuses to continue to use more, or in greater frequency than they have in the past. Knowing the signs of addiction is a great way to stay informed, and to be aware of red flags. One thing to be aware of when considering addiction, is the amount of impairment you are experiencing as a result of the substance (or behavior, for that matter). For example, if an individual finds themselves missing work, having conflict with family and friends, or spending large amounts of time in activities related to the substance (or behavior), they should consider seeking help from a professional to further explore how their life is being affected by the substance.
Additional indicators of addiction are intense cravings, and the compulsive use of a substance, despite negative consequences. It is suggested that these cravings and compulsive behaviors are related to changes in the structure and function of our brains. For some, the changes in the brain are due to the repeated use of a substance; for others, the changes are due to a genetic predisposition to addiction.
If you feel that you may be experiencing negative consequences related to addiction, reach out to a mental health provider in your area. For more information on addiction, please visit: www.centeronaddiction.org, and www.nimh.nih.org.