Addiction is becoming a huge epidemic within our society, and only 10% of people with addictive symptoms are identifying and treating this disease in their lives. “I can handle it” is the standard phrase most substance abusers say, without really looking at the seriousness of the disease. Many people can function well in society, holding jobs their homes, and their relationships. Many can go for years without anyone even noticing their substance abuse, let alone getting into trouble with the law or family and friends. Here are some things to consider about your lifestyle now. Use these questions to help identify possible symptoms of addiction. (From the NA approved literature “Am I an Addict?”)
1. Ask About Your Behavior
- Do you put the purchase of drugs over your financial responsibilities?
- Do you manipulate or lie to doctors to obtain prescription drugs?
- Have you ever substituted one drug for another, thinking that one particular drug or alcohol was the problem?
- Have you ever stolen to obtain money for drugs/alcohol?
- Have you ever been arrested because of using drugs/alcohol?
- Has your job or school performance ever suffered from the effects of your drug/alcohol use?
- Have you had issues with sweating, trouble sleeping, seizures, anxiety or sore muscles due to substance use?
- Do you find that you can’t stop once you have started using alcohol/drugs?
2. Ask About Your Social Relationships
- Do you ever use alone?
- Do you avoid people or places that do not approve of you using drugs?
- Has using affected your sexual relationships?
- Have you lost family relationships and lost interest in your partner or friends?
- Have you avoided social interaction or activities you once enjoyed due to your substance use?
- Have you lied to cover up your behavior?
- Do you make promises to stop that you don’t keep?
3. Ask About Your State of Mind
- Do you ever question your sanity?
- Do you think about drugs a lot?
- Have you had irrational or indefinable fears?
- Do you feel it is impossible for you to live without drugs?
- Have you ever felt defensive, guilty, or ashamed about your using?
- Do you continue to use despite negative consequences?
- Have you ever thought of suicide and believe there is not an answer?
Other risk factors to take into consideration on recognizing the disease of addiction include:
- Genetic predisposition
- Certain brain characteristics that can make someone more vulnerable to addictive substances
- Psychological factors (e.g. stress, personality traits, anxiety, psychiatric and personality disorders, depression)
- Environmental influences (e.g. exposure to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or trauma, peer and/or family addiction usage, access to an addictive substance, high exposure to pop culture references encouraging substance use
(National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse)
Having one or more of these risks factors doesn’t mean a person is an addict, but the odds are much greater. The more risk factors present in your life, the chances are much greater.
There is help! Community support groups are available in numerous focus areas and are very good for many individual’s success while having a 5-10% success rate. It is good to get a professional assessment about these behaviors and consider enrolling in an intensive inpatient or outpatient rehab recovery facility. Asking friends and family for help through this process is highly encouraged and the more than any person begins to reach out and recognize risky actions, the greater the chance for change and support. Addiction is a disease, and the sooner it is recognized, the better the success of treatment and lifestyle changes are possible. No one is alone!