Behavioral Patterns of Addiction

Besides the clinical signs of addition mentioned in the previous section, there are behavioral patterns that are common in a person who abuses medication. These behavioral patterns deviate from what is considered normal behavior.

For example, a substance abuser fails to keep to a routine and will be late to work or school or not go at all. The person may have poor hygiene and appear disheveled—especially when compared with others. Family and social relationships become strained as craving for the drug or being under the influence of the medication makes it nearly impossible to interact normally. The person is also in frequent need of medical attention as a result of self-medication. The medication itself might disrupt normal bodily functions or place the person in a state that exposes him or her to harm.

For a variety of reasons, a substance abuser experiences more legal problems than the average person. The police might arrest the person for illegally obtaining or possessing the medication or for driving while under the influence of the drug. A substance abuser is exposed to unsavory characters who are involved in the illicit drug trade. These interactions can create unsafe and violent situations for all involved.

Denial is the most common behavior exhibited by drug abusers. Because the addiction may be gradual and often the abuser is in an altered mental state as a result of the effects of the drug, the individual may be unable to recognize the addiction. As the addiction worsens, the drug abuser is unwilling to admit to the problem and the denial continues.

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