If substance use has negative consequences for you, you may be experiencing an addiction.
How do you know you have an alcohol or drug addiction?
Not everyone has the same issues with substance use. Some people experience physical dependence on the substance and may go through withdrawal or “the shakes” if they don’t use. Other people have a mental or psychological dependence on the substance, relying on it to make them feel comfortable in social situations. Some people “self-medicate” with substances and use in order to cope with other mental health issues, like depression or anxiety.
Some of the major signs of dependence on substances include:
· Blacking out or experiencing memory loss
· Arguing or fighting with family members or friends
· Experiencing irritability, depression, or mood swings
· Using substances to feel “normal” or to change the mood and relax or cheer up
· Difficulty sleeping or dealing with problems without using
· Experiencing headache, panic attacks, insomnia, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, tremors and shaking, nightmares, hallucinations, or other unpleasant withdrawal symptoms
· Using alone, first thing in the morning, or in inappropriate or risky situations
· Keeping substance use secret or lying about how much or frequently you use
Watch for these changes in your relationship with yourself, your loved ones, your family, your friends, and your coworkers:
· Loss of Control: If you find yourself using more that you meant to, using for longer periods of time than you intended to, or using when you didn’t want to, that’s a sign that you’re losing control. Addiction can often cause your ability to trust yourself and for others to trust you.
· Neglecting Other Activities: Before you started using, how did you spend your time?
· Risk Taking: How far are you willing to get your next drink or drug? Have you ever done something unsafe, humiliating, or illegal in order to get more?
· Relationship Issues: The people closest to you often see the effects of substance use before anyone else. If your friends, loved ones, or family members criticize your behavior or your substance use, they may see a problem that you don’t
· Is my substance use a choice, a lifestyle, or a problem?
Continuing to use substances even though you’re experiencing negative consequences is a sign that your addicted.
Addiction is not a choice. Just as a person with depression can’t stop emotions of sadness with their own willpower, a person with an addiction is unlikely to stop without getting help or making a significant change.
Some of the signs that you need to seek help or support for substance use are:
· Secrecy: If you’re going out of your way to hide the amount of drugs or alcohol you used, or lying about what you do when you’re using, you are putting yourself at serious risk. Mysterious “accidents” that happen when you’re in a blackout are common as well. Waking up in strange places or with unexplained injuries is another sign that your substance use is harmful to you.
· Family History: A family history of addiction can dramatically increase your predisposition to substance use disorder. Do you have a parent, aunt, uncle, or grandparent who struggled with alcohol or other drugs? You may want to talk to a doctor or counselor about your substance use and your genetic history.
· Tolerance: Over time, a person’s body adapts to a substance. If your substance use has progressed, one drink or drug won’t give you the same effect. You may find that you’re using more, for longer periods, in order to have the same sensation.
· Although there are many negative consequences of using, there are many benefits to seeking support. People often find that the physical, social, interpersonal, and psychological problems that came along with their substance use can be resolved once they begin to manage their problem effectively and reach out for help.