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What is Preaddiction?

by Will Long

August 27, 2022

What Is Preaddiction?

Preaddiction is when a patient exhibits several symptoms that coincide with substance use disorder. These can be evaluated by a medical professional who screens patients with these symptoms to see if they indicate the development of an addiction to drugs or alcohol. The term preaddiction, could help give a readily understandable name to a vulnerable period in a person’s life when preventive care could help avert serious consequences of drug use and substance use disorders. In essence, preaddiction would be a new way of seeing mild or moderate substance use disorders, requiring measures to define and detect this stage in an addiction. 

Why Is Preaddiction So Important to Spot?

The main purpose of defining and treating preaddiction is to increase the ability for medical professionals to get treatment services to those who may inevitably need them. Only 20% of those who need treatment actually get the treatment they need. Preaddiction is highly useful in preventing addiction in patients where it’s been identified. According to the CDC, preventative medicine has not been historically well-practiced in the U.S., so spotting problematic substance use patterns in patients and applying intervention strategies early can save many patients time and effort before they might potentially hit “rock bottom.”

In her article for the CDC’s website, Dr. Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), writes about why spotting preaddiction is so immediately important for many who casually abuse substances:

[Spotting preaddiction] could also save lives. Today’s extremely hazardous drug landscape is dominated by fentanyl, which is increasingly contaminating or being sold in place of non-opioid drugs. Even people who only take drugs occasionally, and even people who do not knowingly take opioids, run the risk of a fatal overdose. Some lever is needed to enable routine healthcare to serve as a screening and teaching opportunity about the danger of drug contamination that people who use illicit drugs face, even those who only use them occasionally.

Dr. Nora Volkow of NIDA

Dr. Nora Volkow of NIDA

Preaddiction and Crime

A 1987 study published in The International Journal of the Addictions, looked at whether certain preaddiction characteristics were related to the types and amounts of crime people commit subsequent to their addiction. That study examined 250 men who were being treated for heroin addictions. They found that preaddicction characteristics like criminal activity and use of drugs and alcohol played a role in eventually becoming addicted to narcotics.

Prediabetes As Example

As an example of a time when a recommendation was used to increase treatment penetration rates in populations that exhibited signs of a disease, mild forms of diabetes that otherwise wouldn’t have been treated before turning into something more serious were defined as prediabetes. To spot prediabetes, patients are evaluated for several symptoms that coincide with diabetes. Patients that have prediabetes are often obese, have low cholesterol, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. For the vast majority of patients who are diagnosed with prediabetes, the diagnosis can be reversed through lifestyle changes prescribed by a doctor.

Learn More

To learn more about how Landmark Recovery is changing the face of addiction treatment on a patient level and how we can treat you for a drug or alcohol addiction, give our dedicated admissions team a call at 888-448-0302 today. Our mission is to save a million lives in the next century.

About the Author

Will Long

Will Long

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Will has been a writer for Landmark Recovery since 2021. Will specializes in research and writing about substance abuse from a scientific and social perspective.

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