*Blackouts are a very distinctive feature of alcoholism; they are not typically experienced by people addicted to other drugs.
*DT's are also a distinctive feature of alcoholism
*Cocaine addicts will often show an increased interest in personal appearance when they begin using the drug; as it progresses the addict will typically lose interest in everything but the drug.
The disease of addiction can be divided into three general stages: early, middle, and late. The questionnaire you just completed includes symptoms from each of these stages. Your answers will help identify (a) if your loved one is addicted to alcohol and/or drugs and (b) what stage of the disease he is in.
Questions 1 – 9 cover the early stage of the disease, when the addiction is “hidden”; the person and his loved ones typically don't even suspect that he has a problem. Many of the symptoms associated with this early stage are also experienced by non-addicted, social drinkers or druggers. For example, both early – stage Dependents and non-Dependents may answer “yes” to the question: “Does he enjoy drinking and look forward to drinking occasions?” But most non-Dependents would answer “no” to the majority of these questions.
If you answered “yes” to several of these questions, your loved one may be an early-stage Dependent – even if your answers to the rest of the questions are a truthful “no.” A “yes” answer to five or more of these questions is typical of the early-stage disease.
Questions 10 – 18 cover the middle-stage symptoms of addiction. In the middle stage, the Dependent's problems become more obvious, even though the great majority of middle-stage Dependents look healthy and are generally in control of themselves and their lives. The disease has progressed significantly but not to the point where the Dependent is destitute and deathly ill – that will come later, if the drinking or drug use continues.
In the middle stage, the Dependent can still exert some control over his use, and chances are good that he will deny or rationalize his symptoms if he's confronted. Denials and rationalizations are actually symptoms of the middle-stage addiction, and they indicate that the Dependent knows, deep inside, that he's in trouble. However, because of his addiction, he can't function without the drug, at least not for very long.
The middle stage of addiction can last for years before leading into the later, more deadly stage. People addicted to alcohol may continue as middle-stage alcoholics for as long as ten to twenty years. However, the alcohol-only addict is an increasing rarity; most alcoholics are also addicted to prescription or illegal drugs. Using more than one drug invariably causes a sped-up addiction process, shortening the middle stage of the disease significantly. For some addicts, the disease progresses so quickly that the early and middle stages are left out altogether, and the addict is in serious trouble almost from the very beginning of his drug use. Free-basing cocaine, for example can lead to late-stage symptoms with a few months.
Questions 19 – 27 deal with the final, deteriorative stage of addiction, when the Dependent will look, act, and talk like he is addicted to alcohol or drugs. The disease has progressed to the point where the Dependent is physically ill both when he's using and when he stops. Medical complications may seriously undermine the Dependent's physical health.
The late-stage addict can no longer deny that he has a problem controlling his drinking or drugging, but neither can he imagine life without it. Because he is physically unable to control his intake, he usually ends a spree incoherent or passed out. Withdrawal symptoms (psychological and/or physical) become severe and incapacitating. As he continues to drink or use drugs, he will become increasingly withdrawn, fearful, and uncommunicative. Paranoia, hallucinations, and severe tremors are common in the late stage.
Unless he received effective treatment, the late-stage Dependent will die of medical complications caused by accelerated drinking or drug use or from accidents suffered while using. Death is the final symptom of the late-stage addiction.