We all know that addiction is a problem. Alcohol addiction, drug addiction, process addictions they all cause problems. That’s why we know it’s a serious issue when we recognize that someone is actually suffering from addiction.
What is a little more difficult, however, is figuring out exactly when addiction starts. It’s not like addiction has a bright neon sign that tells you when you’ve come down with it. It’s a silent, stealthy disease that makes the person afflicted feel like everything is totally normal… as long as you keep consuming a certain substance.
The reality is, by the time you’ve noticed that you’re addicted and that it’s a problem, it’s often too late to stop something really bad from happening. Many people who are addicted don’t even notice it until the consequences have already struck.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here is a list of 15 signs that your substance use may have evolved into abuse or addiction. At that point, it’s a good idea to think about getting tested for addiction.
Here’s what to look for.
1.) Most, if not all, of your social events, revolves around drinking or drug use.
When you get ready to go out, do you call ahead to see if there will be alcohol at the party? For many, drinking is a way to liven up a party, but for others, it has become the only way that they feel they can enjoy a party. It may have started as an icebreaker, but now it’s the only reason to attend. If you’re using illicit drugs, the same can apply. Sometimes it’s hard to notice this as a problem.
2.) You feel like you don’t have fun when drugs or alcohol aren’t present.
Has life has started feeling quite boring these days? When you are alone, if you feel the need to drink or use in order to “liven things up,” your drinking or substance use is more than casual. You need to get help. This feeling of boredom will only become worse as your addiction grows stronger.
3.) When problems arise, you’ll blame everything other than alcohol or drugs.
For those that don’t use, the association between problematic events and the usage of drugs and alcohol is obvious. The car accident happened because a person drove while intoxicated. A person grew violent against another because they couldn’t control their emotions while under the influence. When you are addicted, you often don’t see that correlation, or you simply refuse to. That’s not your fault – the chemistry in your brain is actively working against you making that connection.
4.) Your hangovers become so severe that they interfere with your everyday life.
Many people have woken up the morning after a heavy night of drinking and partying with a hangover. Having a hangover doesn’t mean that you have a problem. Having hangovers every day, or drinking more when waking up to avoid a hangover is a problem. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be devastating and even life threatening, but if you’re unable to stop drinking for fear of getting them, you’re just making things worse in the long run.
5.) Having just one drink is not an option for you.
In social situations, it is common to drink. How much often depends on the event, but you should always have the control to drink in moderation. If you feel the need to always have another drink, you may be facing a serious problem with alcoholism and you should get help.
6.) You find yourself using more and more to feel the same high you previously felt.
The subject of tolerance is often looked at as a pro or con. “She’s a lightweight.” “He’s a tank.” The trouble with these labels is that there is a negative connotation associated with lighter substance abuse. In fact, the more alcohol you drink or drugs you use, the more your body needs to achieve the same euphoric feeling. If you find yourself able to drink or use more before feeling the effects, you’ve likely built up a tolerance in your body, and this isn’t a good thing. Your body has come to expect more of the substance you’re using, and it will let you know exactly how it feels when you don’t supply it.
7.) You have driven your car while intoxicated.
It’s no secret that driving while intoxicated is a major problem in this country. While not every person that drives under the influence is caught, the number of individuals that admit that they have driven at least once while intoxicated is striking.
In 2010, that number was 4 million. This resulted in a staggering 112 million alcohol-impaired driving episodes and 13,365 fatalities. The common misconception regarding DWI and DUI is that the person is carelessly putting the lives of others at risk.
What those who make this statement don’t understand, is that when you have an addiction, you often don’t realize that what you’re doing is dangerous, and if you do, you’re willing to take the risk because your brain tells you so. This disease is more dangerous and more controlling than people understand.
8.) The loved ones around you have told you that you should get help.
Odds are, you have people around you that love you and want you to be safe. If those who love you have expressed concern for your safety, you should think about how they view you. In many cases, loved ones don’t understand the chemical changes that take place in the body during addiction, and they may sound cold or condescending.
The truth is, they noticed that something is wrong and they expressed it to you, even if it wasn’t in the most eloquent manner. The hardest part of addiction is taking the first step to get help.
9.) You’ve injured yourself or someone else while being intoxicated.
Drugs or alcohol can do more than simply impair judgment. Emotions have a tendency to be amplified when alcohol or drugs are involved. Extreme highs and lows caused by the chemical shifts in your body can make you do things that are dangerous. If you are struggling with anger or depression, don’t wait until you find yourself in this situation. Get help before it occurs.
10.) You’ve lost your job or been kicked out of school for substance use.
If you’ve actively put you and your family’s well-being in jeopardy because of your addiction, you’re not alone. An addiction not only costs money to sustain, it causes you to be unable to perform your responsibilities in work and school. If you find yourself frequently calling out of work or school due to hangovers or the desire to use, you need to get help.
11.) You’ve tried to quit several times, but you always return to your old habits.
Many people recognize that they have a problem with drinking or drugs and decide to quit. If only quitting was as easy as it sounds. If you find that you always return to your old habits, quitting on your own may not be an option. You will need help.
Even those who receive treatment run the risk of relapsing. Your body will never really be able to forget the addiction. You must learn to understand it, and learn how to resist what will likely be a lifelong temptation to fall back into substance abuse. Together, we can help you overcome addiction.
12.) When questioned, you’ve lied about your drug or alcohol use.
It’s quite normal for those suffering from addiction to feel it necessary to lie. The lies stem from denial that your addiction is a problem in the first place. If you lie to those who care about you, they will be unable to get you the help you need. If you have lied to someone about your drug or alcohol use, you need to get help.
13.) You want to stop, but you don’t really know where to turn.
Alcoholism and drug abuse often occur alongside – or even cause – depression and other mental health problems and changes, such as
- Personality disorders
- Unusual aggressiveness
- Mood swings
And that’s just to name a few. Many people use substances as a means of coping with their existing mental health issues (especially depression and anxiety). Once you have reached the point of addiction, you may want to get help, but are scared and unsure where to go. The good news, however, is that you can get treatment for addiction and depression. If you are afraid or unsure of yourself, that’s okay. Please contact us so we can help you figure out what to do.
14.) You consistently find yourself drinking until you blackout.
Drinking culture is one of excess. That culture often leads many to drink until they blackout. This blackout is caused by a spike in the blood alcohol content (BAC). Blackouts can be accompanied by memory loss that can last hours, days, or even weeks. There are individuals that have learned from their mistakes after experiencing a blackout, but for others, it isn’t so easy. If you have had a blackout on more than one occasion due to excessive drinking, know that there is help for alcohol addiction.
15.) You’re experiencing health problems due to your addiction.
Addiction comes with more than just withdrawal symptoms. Very real and dangerous health problems accompany addiction. Constipation, high blood pressure, elevated liver enzymes and even stroke can all result from addiction. These health problems often go untreated because those suffering from addiction associate the symptoms with withdrawal. If you are struggling with addiction and feel unwell, get treatment now. You may want to consider starting with alcohol detox or drug detox, depending on the substance you use most.
Have you ever experienced these signs or seen them in a loved one? Are there important signs of addiction that we missed? Let us know in the comments below. Everybody’s experience with addiction is different, but the more we share, the more we can help each other defeat this destructive disease.