Not Everyone Who Drinks or Uses Drugs is Addicted
Drug and alcohol abuse is a serious issue that can consume your life if you allow it to do so, and the results are often devastating. However, many people drink and use drugs without any problems for months or years before issues begin to emerge. "Am I addicted?" is a question that many people ask themselves, but they are often so afraid of the answer that they refuse to take an honest look at their situation.
Although responsible use is possible and not always hard to achieve, everyone should take the time to learn about the signs of substance abuse. Even if you do not drink or take drugs, the information that you obtain can help you save a friend or family member from a dark, destructive path from which escape can seem impossible.
Understanding Responsible Use
"Am I addicted?" is not always an easy question to answer, but setting a solid foundation by learning about responsible drinking and drug use can help. When people don't have a problem, they will drink or use drugs occasionally but won't be obsessed with it. They can go weeks, months or even years without drinking or using drugs if they choose to do so.
They won't opt to buy their substance of choice if they are on a tight budget and need to save money for bills. Those who use drugs responsibly will maintain their jobs and won't face an endless stream of legal trouble. They won't have issues managing their friendships, and they will keep their life under control. (Continued below image...)
Approaching the Line
Rather than happening all at once, crossing the line is a process that occurs over time. You might go from drinking on the weekends to doing it every night, and you will slowly increase your usage. While you are at work or focusing on your other responsibilities, you will think about drinking or doing drugs, looking forward to your next experience.
When you enter this stage, you will notice that it takes more drugs or alcohol to create the desired effect, which means you are building a tolerance. If you become aware of the problem before it gets any worse, you will be able to control it by making an effort to slow down. But those who don't see the direction in which they are headed will be in for a dark and unpleasant surprise.
Crossing the Line
When you control your drug or alcohol use, you are not addicted. But once your habit takes over and starts dictating your choices, you have a serious problem on your hands that you will need to address. If you don't use the substance for a while, you will get cravings that will worsen as your addiction progresses. Those who cross the line are no longer in control of their drug or alcohol consumption, and it will take a toll on the quality of their lives. They will start missing work or college classes to drink, and they will use all of their money to buy more, leaving their bills unpaid.
During this stage, they will need outside intervention if they want to overcome the issue without causing additional harm. In other words, you cross the line when you continue to drink or use drugs even though they are causing problems in your life and harming your relationships. Even when you are aware of the issue, your cravings and impulses will compel you to remain on the same path.
Substance Abuse Can Be Subtle
When people think of substance abuse, they often picture someone who drinks at all hours and does not have a job. They imagine a person who looks messy and does not pay their bills or make an effort to contribute to society, but that belief is a common misconception.
While someone in the late stages of substance abuse will fit that description, the issue is often subtle at first. When you are going through this phase, you can experience mood swings, memory problems and poor hygiene. As your tolerance builds and you need to consume even more drugs or alcohol, you will start borrowing money from your friends and family.
Physical Dependence and Being Addicted
Even though people often use the terms interchangeably, being addicted and being dependent are not the same but can occur together. Addiction happens when someone has strong cravings that are difficult or challenging to control, and the problem will impact their lives in a negative way unless they are careful.
When you use a drug or drink alcohol for long enough, your body will get used to the substance and slow down the natural production of certain neurotransmitters. You will then need to have the substance in your body to feel normal and to function properly, and this is called physical dependence.
While a substance abuse problem can control your life, getting it under control as soon as possible will reduce the damage. Honestly looking at yourself and your situation is one of the hardest steps, but admitting that you have a problem will empower you to overcome it. Since the path that you choose now can impact you for the rest of your life, you will want to make the right call. Rather than being a weakness, reaching out for help is a sign of strength and determination. You are about to embark on a long and challenging road to recovery, but you won't have to do it alone.
If you believe you are crossing the line into addiction, contact an admissions counselor at SpringBoard Recovery today for a confidential assessment.