How do you know if you have an addiction?

Addiction is a complex brain disease that can gradually take everything good and valuable from individuals’ lives and leave them jobless, in poor health and without close family and friends.

The progress of addiction can differ from person to person. Some individuals drink or use drugs and never become addicted. Others quickly find themselves in difficulty that threatens to completely overcome them. Still, others may gradually fall into addiction, while denying they have a problem. Admitting the problem is the first step in getting treatment that can help you to restore your life back to sanity. Here are some common signs that your social drinking or recreational drug use has become a problem that requires professional treatment.

Drugs or Alcohol Causes You to Neglect Responsibilities

One of the first signs of an addiction problem is the neglect of normal responsibilities, such as work, school or family duties. When an addiction has occurred, the chemistry of the brain is changed, and the normal chemicals that make individuals feel happy or fulfilled no longer work. Only the alcohol or drug can provide the feeling of relief, and increasing amounts are needed to achieve this pleasant effect. You may spend more time drinking on the weekends and are absent from work on Mondays. Or you may find you need a drink during the day and make sure you have lunch at a place that serves alcohol. An individual with a drug problem may have to stop throughout the day to use the drug. The drug use may affect your ability to perform your job or stay alert during classes. If you have family responsibilities, you may fall asleep while caring for children or need help from other family members to get your children dressed, fed and off to school. These actions are all signs that a drug or alcohol problem is present.

Drug or Alcohol Use Causes Legal Problems

When alcohol use becomes a habitual need, an individual may begin to use it under dangerous circumstances. They may drink and drive, which can lead to DUI convictions and jail time. For some people, excessive alcohol use can lead to aggressive behavior, fighting and being arrested for assault or other crimes. Drug use can also cause impaired driving convictions. In addition, the continuous need for more drugs may cause individuals to engage in theft of money or valuable objects that they can sell. They may write bad checks or steal prescription pads to get more drugs.

Drug or Alcohol Use Causes Problems in Relationships

Another sign that alcohol or drug use has become a problem is when its use disrupts normal family or intimate relationships. Many people who develop a drinking or drug problem prefer to use the substance above all other activities. They begin to isolate themselves or prefer to spend their time with other people who use alcohol or drugs. They may hide their alcohol or drug use, lying to their families or spouses, stealing money in order to keep using and manipulating people close to them to help them continue their substance use. In many cases, spouses or life partners lose patience with the erratic behavior and move out. Family relationships can become broken or full of arguments and stress. These patterns are classic signs that drug or alcohol use has become a problem.

Drug or Alcohol Is Used in Dangerous Circumstances

Another sign that alcohol or drug use has gotten out of control is the use of these substances in dangerous circumstances. Because the chemical changes in the brain have become established, sound judgment and good decision-making are impaired. An individual may have alcohol in the car with them as they drive. He or she may drink excessively during social events, causing a scene or getting into a fight. The person may use alcohol or drugs on the job, and when discovered could mean the loss of employment and financial hardship. The alcohol or drug use may endanger their children or other people who drive with them or work with them. But the individual is unable to stop the substance use because the brain changes of addiction have already begun.

Drugs and Alcohol Use Cause Health Problems

Another sign that the use of alcohol or drugs has become a problem is the occurrence of health problems caused by the substance use. An individual may experience falls or other problems with coordination related to drinking. He or she may experience stomach problems or malnutrition from habitual drinking. Sexually transmitted diseases may occur because of impaired judgment. Similarly, drug use can cause blood infections from needle use, nasal problems from snorting drugs or impaired coordination from opioid drugs. When several health problems begin to trouble the individual, it’s an indication that substance abuse has reached a critical level.

If your alcohol or drug use has become a problem that disrupts your daily life, your plans for the future and your relationships, contact Meridian Treatment Solutions to provide you with information on how therapy can restore your life to sanity.

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