Recognising the signs of addiction is the first step to getting help for yourself or someone you care about. For this reason, it is critical to have an understanding of the signs of addiction. There are behavioural, physical, health and psychological aspects of addiction.
What is addiction? Addiction experts define it as “chronic neurobiological disease”, characterised by behaviours that include one or more of the following: impaired control over substance use, compulsive use, continued use despite harm, and craving”.
The key features of substance addiction are the use of drugs or alcohol despite negative consequences and recurrent relapse. Importantly, the issue is not the quantity or even the frequency, but the impact.
It is a complex condition, a complex interaction between human beings and their environment; it has biological, chemical, neurological, psychological, medical, emotional, social, political, economic and spiritual underpinnings – to name but a few.
ICAO defines addiction (chemical dependency) as a "progressive and chronic illness" and is classified as a disease or disorder.
The warning signs relate to the consequences of drinking - is the use of alcohol affecting the person’s health, their relationships, causing problems at work or with the law?
Do they do things while drinking which they would normally regard as unacceptable behaviour?
Do they forget large aspects of what they did when drinking?
Are others challenging them about their drinking, and do they resent those challenges?
Whilst alcohol is the favourite mind-altering drug in our society and the one with the greatest overall impact on aviation safety, illicit or prescription drug dependance is just as damaging.
Drug dependance warning signs are similar to that of other addictions and relate to the consequences of using the drug and there is just as wide ranging additional risks associated with the use of recreational drugs or prescription medications.