What is Addiction?

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use.

It is characterized by the inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involved cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in permanent disability and premature death.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-5, states that a substance use disorder is a cluster of cognitive, behavioral and physiological symptoms indicating that the individual continues using the substance despite significant substance-related problems. Examples of these problems could be: incarcerations, loss of job, loss of relationships, difficulty maintaining housing, inability to maintain good grades in school, loss of friendships, and reduction in overall functioning, loss of motivation to attend to hygiene, etc.

Potential Signs of Opioid Addiction/Opioid Use Disorder

  • Apathy
  • Borrowing money with no explanation of why and not returning it
  • Burnt spoons
  • Change in friendships
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Change in exercise habits and/or energy level
  • Changes in work habits: excessive absences and missed deadlines
  • Complaints of nausea
  • Covering arms with long sleeves
  • Dark, sticky residue
  • Decreased libido
  • Depressions
  • Drowsiness
  • Euphoria
  • Flushed skin
  • Frequent flu-like symptoms: including vomiting, diarrhea, nausea
  • Impaired coordination and concentration
  • Lack of good hygiene
  • Loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable
  • Loss of relationships/friendships
  • Mood swings
  • Overspending
  • Rubber tubing
  • Runny nose
  • Scratching
  • Sleepy eyes
  • Slow breathing
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Slurred speech
  • Small glass pipes
  • Syringes
  • Tan or whitish powdery residue
  • Tendency to nod off
  • Theft and other behaviors to get money for drugs
  • Tiny baggies
  • Tiny pupils
  • Weight loss