When it comes to recovering from an addictive disorder, admitting that help has become necessary is a crucial first step. However, this is often the most difficult step to take. There is a humbling of pride, an uncomfortable admission of defeat, and a brave step into the unknown that go hand-in-hand with acknowledging professional help has become necessary. Because addiction is so widely misunderstood, many individuals cling to the misguided conception that they can get sober on their own. If you or someone you love has been misusing drugs or alcohol and has had a difficult time quitting on their own, there is a good chance that some degree of professional clinical care has become necessary. But how do you truly know when your addiction has gotten bad enough to reach out for help?
An article published by John Hopkins Medicine in June of 2022 notes that currently, over 20 million Americans over the age of 12 suffer from a diagnosable substance use disorder. Unfortunately, only a very small percentage of these Americans seek or receive the professional help they so desperately need. A study published by the National Institutes of Health in 2015 found that 10 percent of American adults have had a drug use disorder at one point in their lives, and 75 percent of these individuals have not received any kind of treatment.
Addiction treatment is readily available to those in need. There are numerous resources and services available throughout the country, regardless of personal background or socioeconomic status. If you have attempted to quit using drugs or drinking on your own with limited success, we are available to help. Simply contact us today to learn more.
What Does Addiction Look Like?
It can be difficult to tell whether or not help has become necessary, especially when there are certain factors at play. These factors could include:
- Spending time with a group of friends who use substances in the same way that you do. For example, if all of your friends go out drinking on the weekends and everyone blacks out by the end of the night, it can be more difficult to acknowledge that this behavior is not ‘normal.’ Excessive drinking is often socially acceptable, which can be confusing for those suffering from a diagnosable alcohol use disorder.
- Maintaining a career and functioning in society, despite issues with substance misuse or dependence. Many a ‘functional alcoholic’ or ‘functional addict’ fails to seek the help they need because they are able to keep up appearances. Meanwhile, their mental and emotional health suffers immensely.
- Actively engaging in denial. Denial and addiction often go hand-in-hand. Someone who is in denial about the nature of their substance use disorder might say things like, “I can stop anytime I want to, I just don’t want to stop yet. I still enjoy drinking.” Or, “I’m not hurting anyone, everyone needs to leave me alone and mind their own business.”
Addiction can look different for everyone. If you believe you might be struggling with addiction but you still aren’t sure, there are several signs and symptoms to look for.
How Do I Know If I’m Addicted?
Below is a list of diagnostic criteria that those who are suffering from a diagnosable substance use disorder often meet. If you answer “yes” to more than two of the questions listed below, there is a good chance that some degree of professional care should be sought.
- Have your relationships been negatively impacted by your substance use?
- Have you attempted to quit or cut back on your own with limited success?
- Have you found it difficult to fulfill personal obligations at work or at school because of your substance use?
- Do you experience cravings for your substance of choice throughout the day?
- Do you spend a significant amount of time obtaining and using your substance of choice?
- Do you continue to use chemical substances despite personal consequences, including legal and/or financial issues?
- Have you put yourself in dangerous situations when using your substance of choice?
- Have others (friends, family members, medical professionals) expressed concern about your patterns of substance use?
- Have you developed a physical tolerance over time?
- Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to quit?
If you are still unsure as to whether or not your substance use has become risky or if you want to learn more about available treatment options, contact us today.
How Bad is ‘Bad Enough?’
How bad is bad enough? The answer to this question will vary on a person-to-person basis. However, it is important to keep in mind that addiction is a chronic and progressive illness, one that will continue to worsen the longer it is left untreated. Even if things aren’t too bad now and you feel you can successfully manage your excessive substance use, there is no telling how long it will be until your life is completely unmanageable. An addiction will not simply resolve on its own like a head cold or a stomach ache. The more frequently you expose your brain to chemical substances, the more your brain chemistry will change, and the more compulsive substance use will become.
Some people wait until their lives are in complete ruin before reaching out for help. Maybe they have lost their career, their spouse has filed for divorce, and they are forced to file for bankruptcy. Maybe they have lost their living space and are now homeless, living on the street and putting all of the money in their pockets towards their next high. Other people make the decision to seek help as soon as they recognize that substance use has become an issue. Maybe they find themselves drinking during the week as well as on the weekends, or they realize that their relationships are in jeopardy because they have been spending so much time in isolation, using the substance of their choice in the comfort of their own home. Maybe a person who has recently undergone an unfortunate life event recognizes they have been using substances to cope, and decides to learn how to cope in healthier and more productive ways. No matter what point you are at in your addiction, there is undeniably a level of care and a treatment program that is right for you.
If you have started considering treatment, it is a good idea to trust your instinct and reach out to begin your personal journey of addiction recovery. It can be scary to take a leap of faith; to commit to something you have never done and to begin exploring an entirely new way of life. Feeling nervous or trepidatious is normal and expected. Of course, it is impossible to fully grasp just how rich and fulfilling your life can become unless you experience addiction recovery for yourself. Once you make the decision to reach out for help, you will be put in contact with someone who will guide you through the first stages of the recovery process. We look forward to hearing from you soon and helping you get started.