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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

How quickly can I become addicted to a drug?

How do I know if someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol?

How do I know if I am an alcoholic?

How do I know if I might be an addict?

 

How quickly can I become addicted to a drug?

  • There is no easy answer to this common question. If and how quickly you become addicted to a drug depends on many factors, including your biology (your genes, for example), age, gender, environment and interactions among these factors.
  • Vast differences characterise individual sensitivity to various drugs and to addiction vulnerability. While one person may use a drug one or many times and suffer no ill effects, another person may overdose with first use, or become addicted after a few uses.
  • There is no way of knowing in advance how quickly you will become addicted, but there are some clues, one important indication being whether you have a family history of addiction or a psychiatric illness – especially a mood disorder (bipolar disorder or depression), schizophrenia or an anxiety disorder.

How do I know if someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol?

  • If a person is compulsively seeking and using drugs or alcohol despite negative consequences, such as loss of job, debt, family problems, or physical problems brought on by drug abuse, then he or she is addicted.
  • While people who are addicted may believe they can stop any time, many, probably most often them cannot, and will need professional help, first to determine if they in fact are addicted, and then to obtain drug abuse treatment.
  • Support from friends and family can be critical in getting people into treatment and helping them to maintain abstinence following treatment.

How do I know if I am an alcoholic?

  • Do you lose time from work due to drinking?
  • Is drinking making your home life unhappy?
  • Do you drink because you are shy with other people?
  • Is drinking affecting your reputation?
  • Have you ever felt remorse after drinking?
  • Do you have financial difficulties because of drinking?
  • Do you turn to lower companions and an inferior environment when drinking?
  • Does your drinking make you careless of your family’s welfare?
  • Has your ambition decreased since drinking?
  • Do you crave a drink at a definite time daily?
  • Do you want a drink the next morning?
  • Does drinking cause you to have difficulty sleeping?
  • Has your efficiency decreased since drinking?
  • Is drinking jeopardising your job or business?
  • Do you drink to escape from worries or trouble?
  • Do you drink alone?
  • Have you ever had a complete loss of memory because of drinking?
  • Has your physician ever treated you for drinking?
  • Do you drink to build up your self-confidence?
  • Have you ever been to a hospital or institution because of drinking?
If you have answered YES to any one of these questions, then you are possibly an alcoholic.
If you have answered YES to any two, then you are most likely an alcoholic.
If you have answered YES to any three, or more, then you are an alcoholic.
(These questions were devised by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.)

How do I know if I might be an addict?

  • You are no longer comfortable around your old friends.
  • You surround yourself with people who live their lives “high”.
  • You have given up previously enjoyable activities – sport, socialising without drugs, hobbies, movies, reading – to get high instead.
  • You find yourself isolating yourself more and more – you spend countless hours totally alone and non-productive.
  • People who love you (trusted family and friends) are telling you they think you have a problem with drugs and/or alcohol.
  • The only people that agree with your assessment (you are not an addict) are the people you use with.
  • If you have lost jobs due to drugs/alcohol.
  • If you have lost friends due to drugs/alcohol.
  • If you have tried (repeatedly) to control your habit … “I’ll only drink/use on weekends” … and you have failed repeatedly.
  • If you sleep something like two hours or 18 hours each day.
  • If you have gained or lost a significant amount of weight rapidly.
  • If you have ever been jailed because of substance use.