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When Alcohol is the Drug of Choice (some of those listed under “When Other Drugs are Used” below may also apply to alcohol)



When Other Drugs are Used (some of the above will apply also)



Common Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse in Anyone



Common Signs and Symptoms of Possible Addiction in Anyone



In order to diagnose possible substance abuse or addiction, there must be a degree of suspicion and a willingness to accept it can happen in anyone we know, including family, friends and colleagues. Believing that someone can’t be an addict based on their training or level of education is a common myth.


The Addicted Health Care Professional: Signs and Symptoms of Chemical Impairment

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5 Myths about Drug Addiction and Substance Abuse


MYTH 1: Overcoming addiction is a simply a matter of willpower. You can stop using drugs if you really want to. Prolonged exposure to drugs alters the brain in ways that result in powerful cravings and a compulsion to use. These brain changes make it extremely difficult to quit by sheer force of will.


MYTH 2: Addiction is a disease; there’s nothing you can do about it. Most experts agree that addiction is a brain disease, but that doesn’t mean you’re a helpless victim. The brain changes associated with addiction can be treated and reversed through therapy, medication, exercise, and other treatments.


MYTH 3: Addicts have to hit rock bottom before they can get better. Recovery can begin at any point in the addiction process—and the earlier, the better. The longer drug abuse continues, the stronger the addiction becomes and the harder it is to treat. Don’t wait to intervene until the addict has lost it all.


MYTH 4: You can’t force someone into treatment; they have to want help. Treatment doesn’t have to be voluntary to be successful. People who are pressured into treatment by their family, employer, or the legal system are just as likely to benefit as those who choose to enter treatment on their own. As they sober up and their thinking clears, many formerly resistant addicts decide they want to change.


MYTH 5: Treatment didn’t work before, so there’s no point trying again; some cases are hopeless. Recovery from drug addiction is a long process that often involves setbacks. Relapse doesn’t mean that treatment has failed or that you’re a lost cause. Rather, it’s a signal to get back on track, either by going back to treatment or adjusting the treatment approach.

Mayo Clinic:

Signs and Symptoms of Drug Use

(Includes Specific Drugs)

To the Addicted Nurse