If you’re worried you may be an addict or an alcoholic, here are a few signs you might be right. Unfortunately, no one but you can decide if you are truly addicted to a substance. Interventions can sometimes help bring the severity of a situation to light, but the acceptance of this disease must come from within. There was a time I was spending $200 a day on opiates, and I legitimately believed I was not a drug addict. In contrast, my sister, who has never had trouble with addiction, refuses to take any narcotics out of fear she may be an addict. The disease of addiction is manipulative, and this can perpetuate denial. Denying we are addicts allows us to keep using, keep excusing our actions, and keeps us from getting clean. Everyone is different, and every story of addiction varies from person to person. Whether it’s all, one, or none of these signs; here is a helpful list of some symptoms of addiction.
IT HAS BEGUN TO AFFECT RELATIONSHIPS
After my first intervention, I was LIVID. I felt betrayed, misunderstood, and attacked. I was so angry at my family that I cut them off completely. I made the situation about their behavior, and that allowed me not to focus on my own. But the truth is, if someone is taking the time and love to hold an intervention for you: your actions have most likely warranted this. Whether you are abusing drugs/alcohol, or have mental health issues, these things are done out of love and concern. If your using is affecting your relationships with the people around you, you may be slipping into the grips of addiction. Have you began to avoid family and friends in order to hide your habit? Have they began to distance themselves from you? Has your drug use become a point of concern and distrust between you and your family members? It’s hard not to feel attacked when you are accused of something you are ashamed of, even if it is true. But, if your using is driving a wedge between you and the rest of the world, it may be a bigger problem than you realize.
YOU ARE CONSTANTLY CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR NEXT FIX OR DRINK
Withdrawals are real and can be brutal. But, are you consumed and obsessed with how and when you will obtain your next drink or fix? I remember the second I would take my last pill, I could begin to feel withdrawals. Even though it was physically impossible, the thought that I had nothing left in my possession would begin my cold sweats and shakes. I would come up with excuses on why I needed to leave work, when in reality it was to meet my dealer around the corner. More of my time was consumed by figuring out how I was going to use than actually using. When they say addiction runs your life, that’s true. But it’s not always the actual using that controls everything. It’s also the obsession and the ruminating thoughts about how and when you can use or drink next. It’s all consuming, and if the fear of not having any drugs or alcohol sends you into physical or emotional distress, the drugs or alcohol may be the problem.
YOU EXPERIENCE PHYSICAL WITHDRAWALS
What happens when you are unable to obtain that next drink? If you cannot find any pills, do you find yourself sweating, shaking, and nauseous? If you are physically ill when you abstain from a substance, you are physically dependent. During addiction time becomes a blur, and it can be surprising to find out that a habit that began as simple fun has morphed into a full on physical dependency. I remember in the beginning of my addiction I constantly thought I was getting the flu. How could I be so sweaty and nauseous without having a fever? What was wrong with me? I was naïve and oblivious to the fact that I was frequently going into opiate withdrawals. Physical dependency is serious, and withdrawals can be terrifying. Many people fear becoming sober simply because of withdrawals alone. But this fear is manipulative, too. It is yet another reason to keep using, to stay sick, and to risk your life. Withdrawals can be dangerous, so if you are finding yourself dependent on a substance, it is important to be honest and reach out for help.
YOU DON’T WANT TO QUIT DESPITE CONSEQUENCES
The old cliché is “I can quit whenever I want,” but the truth was, I didn’t want to. I was sure I could quit if I tried, I felt invincible on opiates, so confidence wasn’t the issue. The issue was that despite the crumbling relationships, finances, and legal battles around me—I didn’t want to quit. I was beginning to see that my using was affecting my finances and the way I interacted with my family. I got arrested for stealing at Target, and things were quickly deteriorating. Despite that, I didn’t think I needed to get sober. I just thought I needed to be smarter about using. I wasn’t irresponsible because I was using, I was just using irresponsibly. My finances weren’t a disaster because of the exorbitant amount I was spending on drugs, I just needed a better dealer, and so on. I would have done anything to figure out how to keep up my addiction, and that included continue to experience consequences. If you find your life severely affected by your using, but no desire to change your using, there may be a problem.
YOU WANT TO QUIT, BUT ARE UNABLE TO
On the flip side of that coin, you may find yourself desperate to quit. I finally realized I was an addict when I was about to use, but didn’t want to. This was right before I overdosed and got sober, and I wanted with my whole heart not to use, but it was out of my control. I felt like a robot, I was incapable of thinking or acting for myself, and I was simply programmed to use. I could see what my addiction had done to my health, my family, and my safety, and I knew it needed to end. But I couldn’t figure out how to end it. It felt like an insurmountable task, and I was gratefully granted the “gift of desperation.” I overdosed a few weeks later, and finally found the courage to get sober.
Do you relate to any of these situations? If so, your issues with drugs or alcohol may be bigger than you are telling yourself. Only you can decide for yourself if you have a problem, but I know how painful and miserable the throes of addiction can be. It’s scary to admit we are addicts or alcoholics, and I was ashamed. Now, my only regret is that I didn’t come to terms with my addiction sooner.
- Read this related article: “3 Things That Differentiate A Successful Treatment Program“
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