If you’re sitting behind a computer using the internet to research “Am I an Addict”, you might be. However, take a deep breath and relax because there is a journey you’re about to enter. Every person using drink or drugs to excess will have differing personal circumstances.
There’s no fixed path for everyone and no definitive point at which recreational use tailspins into dependence and then descends into addiction.
When you start experiencing a number of these adverse effects, though, it could be time to sit down and do some long, hard thinking. Grab a journal and write the question “Am I an addict” down at top of your paper. Then follow these statements and write out how you feel.
It’s important to use “I feel” statements when doing this exercise and generally write down how you feel! Then try to read the question before going off and reading the points.
The “Am I an Addict” Excercise
1) The Substance Assumes Priority In Your Life While You Neglect Responsibilities
Any time something assumes pole position in your life to the exclusion of anything else, it’s seldom healthy. When that something happens to be an addictive substance, warning bells should start ringing.
Do they ring in your head?
Whether you’re drinking to excess, abusing street drugs or taking too many prescription pills, if it starts to take over your existence, it’s a safe sign you’re moving from habitual use into the murky waters of addiction.
Think about the amount of time you devote to acquiring the substance in question…
When you start drinking too much, this might be as simple as rotating the stores you buy from. Do you feel pure embarrassment? The red flag begins to raise.
With illicit drugs, the time factor elevates to a new level. If you’re consistently spending most of the day tracking down a bag of weed or monitoring your phone to find a coke dealer, your life is on hold.
Once supplies are in place, how much time are you wasting getting wasted? How much time are you spending finding the supplies? If the majority of days are spent in the pursuit of oblivion, you can safely say addiction has already set on.
Flip the time issue on its head as well.
As well as thinking about the time you’re frittering away getting high or drunk, consider what you’re not doing.
Are you neglecting responsibilities?
Is your work suffering?
If you frankly and openly analyze how much priority your usage has in your life and you find it at the top or near the top of the list – and absolute honesty is critical here – it would pay to reassess those priorities and accept that you could be addicted.
2) Are All Areas of Your Life Are Becoming Disrupted
The life of any full-blown addict is almost always chaotic.
From unraveling relationships to problems at work, addiction leaves few areas of life untouched and the further down that path you go. The more disorder tends to become the norm.
Still Wondering am I an addict? It’s okay to still be unsure!
Psychology Today used a fantastic analogy concerning disruption likening your life to a drawer of folders. Each time you add a new folder, there’s not quite so much room for the things like work, family, health, and leisure already in place.
Again, be ruthlessly blunt and take inventory. If you assess your life overall and find the love of drinking or taking drugs is pushing other important stuff out of the way, there’s a strong chance you’d benefit from a drug and alcohol treatment center.
Let’s face it. Think about your relationships…
Think about friends, if something was affecting the friendship would you stop at the flip of a switch? Can you stop at the flip of a switch? chances are you’d leave that rogue element alone and focus on what counts when you’re addicted to a substance. The rationale goes out the window along with your inhibitions and countless dollar bills.
You know there’s a problem, but you’re seemingly unable to remove that problem.
Addiction is a dominant disease but eminently treatable. The first step is always coming to terms with the fact you are indeed addicted. Without abdicating all personal responsibility, it can pay to accept that this is not your fault. You didn’t choose this outcome even if you willfully started drinking or taking drugs.
What’s important here is what you do next. If you’re noticing an across-the-board disruption in all elements of your life, don’t stave off taking action. Any addiction is always better arrested sooner than later, and by the stage that chaos in your life abounds, the writing is already on the wall, so it’s a smart move to erase that writing sooner than later.
3) You Feel You Need The Substance To Cope With Problems
If you always reach for a drink or your drug of choice in the event of any glitch in your life, dependence is developing, and you might even be addicted to the substance in question.
Let’s look at some figures to put this into perspective.
The 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health established that over 20 million Americans needed treatment for addiction. When data were aggregated over several years, the NSDUH cited that fully 38.8% of those who failed to pursue treatment was “not ready to stop using.”
Let that sink in for a moment.
Why would you not be ready to stop something when it’s reached the point where you are fully aware you need treatment?
The answer, unfortunately, is because dealing with life’s stressors bareback can seem untenable.
Whether you smoke under the impression it relieves stress, drink to help you cope with a job you hate resulting in weekends spend in a slough of despondency at the bottom of a bottle, or you get high every time something terrible happens in your life, you’re probably already addicted to the substance.
There’s some very reassuring news here, though.
You always coped just fine before you started using. You can do the same when you stop using. Life is a natural series of ups and downs. It’s not linear. We’re not saying stress or adverse events are enjoyable, but they’re a healthy and natural part of life. Dealing with them without the crutch of an addictive substance is entirely possible. You did it before, and you can do it again.
So be honest and if you’re always grasping for a drink, a common, or a line every time something goes against you, that something could have you in a grip you’re better of wriggling out of.
4) You Find Even The Idea of Quitting Unthinkable, and When You Try, Withdrawal Symptoms Kick In
This is a double-pronged issue and a clear-cut sign you’re already addicted.
People very rarely feel the need to even think about quitting healthy activities or pastimes.
Think about it, how many times have you heard someone say, “I’ve gotta stop eating so well. All this protein, all these vitamins are bad news. And the gym. That exercise is making me feel like it’s just too much. Can’t be good for me.”
If you’re considering eliminating any behavior from your life, you’re invariably doing so because it’s harmful or has negative consequences.
Now, how do you feel when you ponder putting down your preferred poison for good?
If this thought has been on your mind but instantly displaced by, “Well, maybe next week” or you can’t countenance the idea of a life without drink or drugs, you’re highly likely to be among those 20 million Americans in need of treatment for addiction.
How about if you’ve attempted to quit?
What did you experience?
If you’ve tried to stop drinking and found your hands shaking uncontrollably, put down the weed and found yourself irritable and unable to sleep, stopped using coke at the weekends and found yourself in an emotional slump, you should probably consider talking to a professional about the nature of the problem.
Because any time withdrawal symptoms set in, that’s what you’re dealing with,
Again, the good news is that this problem can be dealt with head-on. With a great deal of success if you seek the right treatment at the right center.
5) You Continue Using the Substance Even In Light of Serious Negative Consequences
There comes the point when abusing any substance starts resulting in a slew of negative consequences.
From getting drunk and losing your wallet or, even worse, your driving license after a DUI through to the disastrous situations you can find yourself in when under the influence of drugs, bad things happen.
How do you react to these incidents, though?
Do you ignore them or even laugh them off?
Are you prepared to accept that the substance in question is causing these things to happen to you?
If so, do you still carry on using regardless?
This is the point at which you need to realize you might be addicted.
To be clear, we’re not talking here about a one-off incident that could just as quickly have happened if you were stone cold sober. We’re not thinking of minor setbacks that don’t have serious repercussions.
If, though, you notice an ongoing series of adverse outcomes as result of your drinking or drug use yet you continue fully in the face of this, it’s well worth seeking guidance with a view to establishing whether you are addicted.
6) You’ll Avoid Social Situations Where You Cannot Use The Substance
Have you been invited to a BBQ where you know there’s no chance you can blaze up a joint then made excuses not to attend?
Do you avoid visiting family members if it’s not acceptable to chug down a six-pack during the evening?
When you start to alter your social plans based on drinking or drug use, you should take this on board as a warning sign things might be getting out of hand.
Another facet of this issue is loading up before you head out. Maybe you know you won’t be able to drink or use your substance of choice at a given social occasion. So you make up for lost time before heading out and arrive worse for wear and far from your best. Perhaps you then make excuses to leave early so you can get back to it.
Whether it’s outings with friends or family being disrupted, choosing venues based on their suitability for your drinking or drug use, or changing the way you spend time socially in general, occasional and non-dependent use has edged into the waters of addiction.
7) Tolerance Is Building
Are you finding yourself needing more and more alcohol to take the edge off?
When you go out drinking heavily, are you consuming increasing volumes of alcohol to achieve the same effect?
With drugs, have you noticed a build-up of tolerance along with an increase in your bill with your dealer?
When tolerance starts to form, you’re already becoming dependent on a substance, and it’s time to ask yourself some serious and far-reaching questions.
Also, tolerance is about more than how much of a substance you can handle. As addiction progresses, there’s a change in the relationship between how much you are taking and the reaction it creates. This is formally known as adaptation.
As with all aspects of potentially problematic drinking or drug use, unerring honesty is critical if you want to stop a more severe issue developing. Many addicts-in-the-making go the other way and attempt to mask their consumption so if you are noticing these warning signs – and maybe even trying to hide your escalating usage – it might well be time to have a chat with someone about the nature of addiction.
8) Your Finances Are In Meltdown
Anything done to the point of excess can be costly. With drinking or drug use, this is doubly true.
Whether it’s the relentless cost of wild nights out when you wake up to several seemingly phantom ATM withdrawals or a swelling bill with your dealer you’re panicking about paying off, financial problems are a reliable indicator of a habit that’s turned into an addiction.
How much of your income do you allot to drinking or taking drugs?
When you get paid, is the first calculation you make how much you can afford to spend on drinking or using?
Do you routinely make sacrifices in other areas to free up more funds for your habit?
Are you finding yourself going into debt when previously you always managed your money just fine?
If you find yourself nodding your head along to any of these questions, you can also safely assume you should seek some form of advice regarding addiction.
Even if you’re still pretty solvent but finding a large hole punched in cash reserves, you should be just as wary as someone struggling to meet the rent. When the cost of your preferred pleasure starts spiraling, you should start taking action before it’s too late to quickly right the ship.
9) You Try To Hide Your Habit and Keep Your Use Secret
A common thread throughout today’s study of the most common warning signs indicating a pleasurable distraction is turning into addiction has been honesty.
Honesty is vital if you want to identify whether or not you have a problem accurately. If so, and if you’re going to start down the path to recovery, honesty will also be a central part of successfully achieving this.
And it’s when dishonesty creeps in with regard to the amount you’re drinking or the quantity of any given drug you’re taking that you should sit yourself down and ask yourself why you’re lying.
If someone asked you how many beers you drank each week, would you tell them the truth?
When the topic of marijuana rears its head at a dinner party, do you readily admit to buying it by the ounce and smoking it just as quickly?
Would you be happy telling family you’ve escalated from grams to 8-balls?
Do you stash your refills and visit different pharmacies? People do this in an attempt to disguise the number of prescription drugs you’re getting through.
If you are in no way addicted to a substance, you would generally have no issue being utterly transparent about your consumption. If you have an inkling you’re already in the throes of addiction, on the other hand, you’re highly likely to try hiding this from loved ones.
Analyze your consumption and your attitude toward being questioned about it, and you’ll get a clearer idea about whether or not a harmless habit is becoming a little more dangerous.
10) Sleep and Appetite Are Affected Along With General Wellbeing
When your health, both physical and emotional, are starting to suffer as a result of either drinking or drug use, you could already be addicted.
This can manifest in many ways.
Perhaps your sleeping habits are all over the place as a result of regular all-nighters and the after-effects of stimulants.
Maybe you’re noticing that you’ve lost a little weight. Perhaps others are seeing the same thing and even commenting to you about it.
Are you often feeling down where previously you were much more upbeat about life’s little problems?
You could even be suffering from more severe health issues, and you’re reluctant to go and see a doctor.
Once the use of any substance starts to impact your health and wellbeing, it’s time to rigorously determine whether or not you’ve got a more severe problem than you thought.
If you’ve spotted any of the above warning signs and you think you might be addicted to drinking or taking drugs of any description, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Speaking to someone can be useful in assessing whether or not you need to further addiction so remember.
And take action without hesitation if you think you need to.