Traditionally, the term “addiction” has been identified with self destructive behaviors that include a pharmacological component. The most stringent application would limit the term to individuals with a physiological dependence on one or more illegal drugs or on alcohol.
Alcoholism and drug addiction are unequivocally supported by a large number of studies. Whether or not they are diseases could be debatable as well as counter productive as what is needed is assessment and intervention.
There are several signs and symptoms associated with alcoholism or drug addiction. If it takes more or less time to get drunk or get high, it is a sign of alcoholism or drug addiction. This indicates increasing or decreasing tolerance. If of late, you have begun drinking or using more than you intended to, it only goes on to indicate loss of control. Do you ensure you have your supply of drugs or bottle ready? If you are preoccupied with your supply, it certainly characterizes addiction. Do you suffer from black outs, that is, do you forget what you have said or done? If yes, it indicates late stage addiction or alcoholism.
There are other signs indicative of alcoholism and drug addiction such as drinking or using drug in the morning to reduce anxiety or cope with hangover; wishing for a drink or drug to calm your nerves; drinking along with prescription medications; going to work drunk; taking your prescribed medication more than prescribed; denial that you have a problem in fact means you do; concealing your use from the loved ones or tailoring stories to your convenience; drinking or using alone; regretting later what you said while drinking or using; frequently switching from one substance to another.
Successful intervention strategy is based on the qualities of love and concern to break through addicts’ denial, followed by their entry to the drug rehabilitation program. It requires human touch and skills to convince an addict to enter a program.
Two major intervention strategies widely recognized today are (i) the Johnson model, and (ii) the Systemic Family Intervention. In the first model, the addict’s family plans a course without the knowledge of addict, while in the second model, the addict is a part of the planning of their course of action. The risks cannot be overruled with both of these approaches. The addict may get resentful and angry for having not been kept in the picture. Similarly, it may be difficult to get the addict to agree to be a part of the intervention process.