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For many people, recreational substance use is a part of life. However, many do not understand by engaging in regular alcohol or other drug use, they are increasing their risk of developing an addiction. This is why there will likely come a time when individuals will begin to question their own recreational use to determine whether or not it is becoming problematic. It’s important to know that even recreational use can lead to dangerous consequences. By learning to identify the signs and symptoms of addiction, individuals can better understand if they or their loved ones may benefit from addiction treatment.

Recreational Drug Use vs. Addiction

According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 21.4% of Americans used illicit drugs in the past year, and 50% reported using alcohol. Still, these statistics only scratch the surface of recreational substance use. It is important to understand that even if individuals choose to use alcohol or other drugs voluntarily, they can quickly become vulnerable to developing an addiction. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), repeated drug use can “lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs.” Recreational drug use turns into an addiction when you feel like you cannot resist the urge or you have an intense craving to use substances.

Types of Addictive Substances

Some drugs are more addictive than others. When a person uses drugs recreationally, they will do so sporadically and often in a group setting. Marijuana and other “party drugs,” like cocaine or ecstasy, may be used recreationally, but can also lead to dangerous, and even deadly, consequences. It’s vital to note that, sometimes, even one-time substance use can end up in addiction. 

Alcohol is a great example of a drug that is often used recreationally but can lead to serious addiction. In fact, many people are not even aware of alcohol’s dangerous effects until it’s too late. 

Substances like heroin and prescription painkillers can quickly lead to addiction because of the nature of the drugs. When drug use is stopped, severe withdrawal symptoms can kick in, causing individuals to continue using the drug to avoid discomfort and pain. 

Why Do People Use Drugs?

There are many different reasons why a person will try illicit substances or continue using them. Oftentimes, recreational use will start in high school or college and end up in addiction the more often the drug is used. 

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), drug use among adults ages 26-49 is on the rise, and this includes the use of various substances like marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and prescription opioids. 

This increase in drug use may be due, in part, to:

  • Ease curiosity
  • The COVID-19 pandemic
  • Work-related stress
  • Traumatic experiences
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • Adult pressures like buying homes, getting married, and having kids

Do I Have an Addiction?

According to NIDA, drug addiction means that you “can’t stop taking the drug even if you want to.” Even though you know the drug is causing harm, the urge to use is too strong to control. 

Signs of Addiction

Some signs of drug addiction may include:

  • Continued use despite negative consequences
  • Increased interpersonal conflict and troubled relationships
  • Spending a large amount of time wondering how to obtain alcohol and other drugs
  • Thoughts of substance use are interfering with one’s ability to complete tasks at work or school
  • Financial problems 
  • Legal problems

Withdrawal Symptoms

The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that you cannot become dependent on a drug after one-time use. Drug dependence can develop after frequent (daily or almost daily) use over a period of weeks or months. 

If you are experiencing symptoms like vomiting, stomach cramps, and chills, you may be addicted to substances. Withdrawal can be both physical and psychological, but you will know you are addicted if you need to use substances to relieve these symptoms.

Seeking Help for Addiction

Drug addiction does not mean you are a bad person or lack the willpower to quit. According to NIDA, drug addiction is a complex disease that changes the brain “in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to.” Fortunately, there is now more research than ever devoted to addressing effective treatments for addiction.

Inpatient Treatment and Detox

Drugs like heroin, opioids, and alcohol can have dangerous and deadly withdrawal effects. Before treating your addiction, you may need to undergo medical detoxification first to remove these substances from your body. 

Inpatient detox is only the first step in the treatment process. When you have completed detox, it’s important to continue treatment at either an inpatient or outpatient facility to prevent relapse and find true success in your recovery journey.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient addiction treatment is becoming a widely-used option to help people who suffer from addiction. Outpatient treatment may include partial hospitalization programs (PHP) or intensive outpatient programs (IOP), which give people the structure and accountability they need to treat their addiction for the long term.

Outpatient treatment can also include medication-assisted programs for opiate and opioid dependencies, where drugs like Methadone, Suboxone, or Naltrexone are used to help you find stabilization. 

Sober Living

Many people who suffer from addiction do not have a stable living environment. Sober living programs are an excellent choice for those who need this kind of support and stability. Sober living programs are also designed to help you through the transition phase from treatment to recovery. 

Addiction is a disease that can affect you long after substances have left your system. When it comes to choosing any type of treatment for addiction, the most important thing is to go at your own pace and find a program that best suits your unique needs.

Many people experiment with substances; some will use drugs recreationally at different points in their lives. Any drug use has risks, but sometimes drug use can have serious consequences and even end up in addiction. Addiction is a disease that affects normal brain function, and it can be extremely hard to quit on willpower alone. At Lighthouse Recovery Texas, our custom-built curriculum is designed to help you get to the root of your addiction and help you find lasting confidence in yourself and your sobriety. Our PHP and IOP will give you the high structure you need to overcome your addiction and life skills training that will help you transition back into daily life. Call us today at (214) 396-0259.