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Medically Reviewer and Contributor:
Dr. Patricia Sullivan MD MPH on 7/6/2021
How Do You Know if You’re Addicted?
If you’ve been regularly consuming or dependent on a mind-altering substance, you might reach the point where you ask, How do I know if I’m addicted? The signs of addiction come on in different ways for each person. Some will experience fast and hard addiction, which is most likely with drugs that are extremely addictive, such as meth.
The fact that you’re asking this question means that you’re acutely aware of changes that are happening in your life. It’s good to be aware of these changes to not fall into the trap of denial. If you’re taking a mind-altering substance and you’re noticing negative changes in your life, then you’re going to want to stop and evaluate.
Here is how to know if you’re addicted:
1. You are Lacking Control When it Comes to Consuming the Substance
One sign of developing an addiction is being unable to take a break from using or drinking. This is especially true if it’s not a medication that you’re prescribed to take every day or if it’s an illegal drug.
The truth is that at the beginning, you may take a substance because you feel it’s helping you in some way. But some substances can quickly become addictive. Therefore, even when you wish only to take it for a short time and then have a break, you’re unable to do that.
Lack of control can happen rapidly, or it can happen over time. If you’re not able to stop yourself from consuming the substance, whether it be alcohol or drugs, this is a sign that you’re addicted.
2. You are Isolating Yourself
If you’re noticing that you’re staying in more, this can be a sign of addiction. If you’re spending more time alone because you’re consuming the drug and wrapped up in the experience, this is a sign of addiction. Perhaps you don’t want your family and friends to know about the drug use, and you’re seeing them less.
Often you might get new friends who drink or use, and you feel more comfortable around them. Essentially, you may be changing your lifestyle to accommodate drinking alcohol or using drugs.
A part of a healthy life, is having healthy people around you, and addiction will slowly remove the healthy people in your life, to make room for those who more closely match your new lifestyle. – Patricia Sullivan, MD MPH
3. Your Tolerance is Increasing (You’re drinking alcohol or using the drug more)
If you find yourself taking more and more of the drug to achieve the first experiences with the drug, this is a sign of addiction. What’s happening is you are chasing the high or the feeling of wellbeing that the substance is giving you. With most drugs, the first feelings of intense euphoria get harder to achieve with time. If you’re still constantly seeking that feeling, though, despite the negative consequences, this is a sign of addiction.
It’s also natural for our bodies to build up a tolerance to drugs or alcohol as we take them daily. The body is always trying to reach homeostasis. If using or drinking has become an everyday part of life, our bodies are designed to even out the effects. The body becomes more resistant to the effects of drugs.
Tolerance is one of the biggest issues that face individuals with a growing addiction. If you’re asking how do you know if you’re addicted, this is one of the biggest signs. Pay attention to it. Your body is telling you something. – Patricia Sullivan MD MPH
4. Your Finances Are Taking a Hit
If you are spending more money, including going over a budget you had in mind, this is a sign of addiction. One thing that addiction to drugs or alcohol can do best is depleting your savings and finances. If you find yourself having to borrow money until your next paycheck or spending a large portion of your paycheck, this is a big red flag.
5. Your Work Ethic Has Changed
Addiction can cause problems in every area of life, so careers or jobs are not immune. One major consequence of addiction is not getting to work on time, missing days, or behaving erratically at work. Each substance has its effects, so for example, if you’re using a depressant such as alcohol or an opioid, you may be out of it at work. You may not be able to keep up with the demands of your job.
However, some drug use (at least temporarily) seems to provide “benefits” to your career. Substances such as stimulants may allow you to work faster, longer, and more focused. However, those “benefits” do not benefit because they are very short-lived. As time progresses, you may eventually lose your job.
6. Your Personality Has Changed
Drugs and alcohol can change a lot about us as people. For example, if you’ve always been a laid-back person, you might find yourself high-strung and easily irritated. You might lash out at others easily or find yourself angry for no reason. For those who are typically high-energy, you might find yourself behaving nonchalantly.
If family and friends are commenting on how you’ve changed, believe them. The people who are always around you know you best.
7. You’re Constantly Trying to Justify or Rationalize Using to Yourself
Sometimes we look at people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, and we ask ourself “how did they get this way?”. The truth is that addiction gets as bad as it does because of justification and rationalization. No one wants to admit that they are addicted, even in the early stages of addiction. Excuses and reasons are developed and carried throughout the addiction.
If you find yourself saying things like:
“I can quit when I want.”
“I’m just taking this because I’m stressed.”
“If I didn’t use, I’d lose my mind.”
“I can handle this, and it will be okay.”
Justifying and rationalizing drinking or using is a big red flag that there is an addiction insidiously growing from within. – Patricia Sullivan, MD MPH
What to do if You see Sign of Addiction in Yourself
If you see signs of addiction in yourself, the best thing to do is to reach out for help. It’s often said that people who are addicted must hit rock bottom before substance abuse treatment can truly make an impact, but this is far from the truth.
One key thing to remember is that addiction thrives on isolation. It hides in the darkness. When exposed and brought to light, healing can begin.
If you’re in the beginning stages of addiction or full-blown addiction, help is available to you. Give us a call at (888) 906-0952 to speak directly to a rehab admissions specialist. We offer free and confidential treatment consultations, no matter your financial situation. We have helped individuals all across America for over a decade.
About the Author
Susana has over 6 years of experience writing content about addiction, mental health, recovery, and treatment. She’s been in recovery for over 5 years, after battling addictions that sought to claim her life. Susana specializes in Organic SEO and Content Marketing and utilizes her experiences to create impactful, insightful, and educational content. Connect with her on Linked-in.
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