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Addiction is sneaky: most people never see a problem with drugs creeping into their lives until it is too late. People may not even recognize addiction after problems overtake the priorities they value most—from their relationships and careers to finances and health. This problem occurs because drugs become one’s all-consuming desire; it crowds out logical thought and undermines values that addicts once deemed important. However, no matter how strong denial is, many addicts can recall a time when they knew they were becoming dependent. Few realize that this moment is a watershed, because those who sense they need help but avoid it are likely to continue abusing drugs. Those who reach out for the right information have a chance to change—or even save—their lives, so, if you think you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, then seek help as soon as possible.
Do I Have a Problem or Am I Overreacting?
Not all people who use drugs or drink become addicted, but only one variable separates them: according to Harvard Medical School, brain chemistry explains why some people get addicted and others do not. Individuals who become dependent upon drugs seem to be more sensitive to reward systems. Additionally, they react to stress more acutely, which makes them succumb to addictive habits more rapidly, often as a quick fix for stress. Furthermore, people who suffer from depression, anxiety. schizophrenia and myriad other mental health conditions have an even higher risk of addiction. While many differences influence one’s addiction risk, some general signs of dependence are as follows:
- Suffering withdrawal symptoms and using the drug to relieve them
- Taking more of the drug or for longer than intended
- Persistently failing to cut down or control drug use
- Spending a great deal of time obtaining the drug, using it and recovering from its effects
- Giving up other important activities as a result of and for drugs use
Ask yourself the following questions to see if you have a drug problem:
- Does using drugs make you feel better or more in control? This positive physical payoff may obscure the negative consequences of drug abuse.
- Do you feel anxious or uncomfortable if you cannot use drugs or even just think about not using? One way to gauge how important drugs have become to you is to consider life without them. Your initial emotional and physical response can be highly telling.
- Has using drugs disrupted your life and your relationships? If your loved ones complain about your behavior due to your drug abuse, then the answer is a resounding yes.
- Do you often want to behave differently, but fail to do so? If you can give a chorus of rationales to avoid sobriety, then consider your powerlessness to drugs.
Continuing to use drugs in spite of serious physical or psychological harm is another red flag. For example, someone who drinks heavily even after a doctor warns her of liver damage has a serious problem. Additionally, someone who does jail time for repeated DUIs most likely has a serious chemical dependency. Together, signs such as these evince that addiction controls you; it has turned your impulses, pleasures, anxieties, fears and preferences against you, completely handcuffed your better judgment and governs your behavior.
Find the Motivation to Reach Out
Once you realize that you have a drug problem, waste no time in seeking help. There is no need to “hit bottom” before you seek help, because, according to Psychology Today, people who are under less emotional stress and have fewer problems have a better shot at getting sober. This thought means that people stand higher chances of making complete recoveries if they seek treatment early—that is, before an addiction sinks deep physical and/or psychological roots.
To take action, motivation is key. Clear, personal reasons for getting sober arm people to fight through the early days of sobriety and beyond. Many rehab centers use Motivational Interviewing (MI) to aid this process, as this treatment method helps addicts identify problems of substance abuse and then empowers them on a deep level to get sober. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shares the following facts about MI:
- An addict’s level of motivation—no matter how high—is a good starting point for change
- Change can only happen in a climate of negotiation, not conflict
- The therapist’s job is to help people see discrepancies between their behavior and their goals
With MI, an addict can recognize the differences between where he is in life and where he hopes to be.
Get Support for Sobriety
Although no one can get sober for you, a strong link exists between community support and recovery. Studies endorsed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that individuals who feel supported and accepted by friends, family members and support groups are less likely to relapse. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, one reason for this research is that peer support can sustain the recovery process until one strengthens her internal motivation. Peer support improves coping skills and sense of adjustment, reduces anxiety, distress and depression and also boosts self-awareness in the following ways:
- It helps to learn from other people’s experiences and mistakes
- Seeing other people succeed can motivate you toward success
- Getting concrete support (such as going to a meeting with a friend) can help you withstand cravings
- Connecting with new people breaks the isolation that often accompanies addictive behavior
With help, you can get and stay clean from drugs.
Recover from Addiction
If you or someone you love struggles with substance abuse, then know that you are not alone. Admissions coordinators at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can guide you to wellness, so you never have to go back to a life of addiction if you call now.