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From Substance Misuse to Addiction

Any person concerned that a family member or friend is suffering from an addiction should pay close attention to the signs and symptoms listed on previous pages. Why? Because an addiction is not always something that develops overnight. Becoming an addict is often a long-term proposition that takes at least a few weeks, at a minimum, or as long as a few months or years for some people. A lot of it depends on the substance(s) being abused and the individual’s tolerance.

Someone who misuses alcohol but is not yet an addict may still be someone who drinks first thing in the morning and as the last activity before bed. Other substances may follow a different pattern but unusual behaviours are typical. These are essentially the warning signs that tells both the addict and those around him/her that some sort of intervention is necessary. Failing to intervene at the first sign allows the addict to keep doing what he/she’s doing with impunity.

It is important to recognise that everyone is different. While the signs of addiction may vary in their detail from one person to another the common factor is that the changes in behaviour, attitudes and demeanour may be subtle at the start and therefore only closest to the addict, who know what 'normal' is will be able to identify the changes that indicate the onset of addition.

The earlier one can act and seek treatment the better the chances of saving a loved one!

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