If you are asking whether or not you have an addiction, the chances are pretty good that your drug use is no longer recreational and has at the very least reached a stage of dependence. The first step of recovery is admitting that you have a problem, that you have lost control of your drug use. But, you can’t take that step if you don’t think you have a problem. The following discussion should help you evaluate your drug use and determine whether or not you have an addiction.

The first thing you need to recognize is that no one is safe from the draw of drug addiction. It literally affects people of every socio-economic standing, age, race, and belief system. So, you can’t cling to the belief that you are somehow shielded from addiction because you see yourself as a member of a class that doesn’t experience addiction. There is no such thing.

There are some questions you can ask yourself to get a little clarity. They include difficulties at your job or in school, problems in your relationships, and legal issues that have been created by substance abuse.

Do You Have Relationship Problems?

When people first begin using drugs, they frequently do so in order to participate in a group activity, like smoking pot at a party or using acid with a buddy. When drug use advances toward addiction, however, people become more and more isolated. If they are hanging out with anyone, they are hanging out with people who sell them drugs or use them as well. It becomes difficult to continue associating with friends and family who aren’t drug users because it feels like they are judging you.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Have you ever lied to a friend or family member or become defensive when asked about substance use?
  • Has your use of drugs led to your inability to follow through with social commitments?
  • Have you stopped communicating with the people you love because you don’t want them to know about your drug use?

Is Your Work or School Performance Suffering?

Every person’s life has responsibilities, but a person with an addiction has one primary responsibility: using drugs. When compulsive use sets in, addicts spend most of their time thinking about getting drugs and using them. There isn’t a lot of attention left for work or school tasks. So, students may find their attention deteriorating or their disorderly conduct increasing. People with jobs may also become more frequently absent or arrive high. These poor choices lead to firings.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Have you failed a partner you were assigned to work with because of your drug use?
  • Have you been expelled or suspended from school because of your drug use?
  • Have you been demoted or fired because of your drug use?
  • Have you failed to meet important deadlines because of your drug use?

Is Your Health Being Compromised by Drug Use?

There are the obvious health effects experienced by users. Some are short-term, like the decreased respiration associated with opiate use. Some are long-term, like the liver disease associated with alcohol addiction. But, there are also the health effects associated with the decreased attention addicted individuals put into their own wellbeing. It’s quite common for addicts to skip meals and keep irregular schedules. This can lead to sleep deprivation, tooth decay, malnutrition, and dehydration.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Have you been alerted to health issues caused by your drug use and continued using regardless?
  • Have you been rendered incapable of taking care of yourself or handling your responsibilities because of drug use?
  • Have you ever needed immediate medical care because of drug use?
  • Have you treated the negative effects or one drug by taking another drug?

How Can I Tell If My Loved One is Addicted to Drugs?

Are You Breaking the Law or Endangering Yourself?

All addicts don’t exhibit deviant behavior or engage in crime, so if you have avoided brushes with the criminal justice system, you may still be an addict. However, if you have lied to multiple doctors in order to get prescriptions to abuse, stolen to get the money for drugs, or engaged in sex for money to buy drugs, you definitely have a problem. Even engaging in physically dangerous activities, like driving while high, points to a substance use disorder. It’s important to honestly assess whether or not you are behaving out of character and risking legal consequences.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Have you ever taken drugs intended for another person?
  • Have you engaged in burglary or theft to get the money for drugs?
  • Have you endangered yourself while high?
  • Have you engaged in risky sexual behavior while under the influence?

Are You Dependent on Drugs?

There are stages that lead up to addiction. For instance, people can experience tolerance early in their drug use. At this point, the body has learned how to cope more effectively with drugs and so a user needs more of the drug than they used initially to get the same effect. Tolerance can be followed by dependence, which sets in when the body and brain are compensating so heavily for the presence of drugs that they can no longer function without them. Dependent people need to keep using to feel normal. If they stop, they have to deal with withdrawal symptoms.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Have you panicked because you thought you might run out of drugs?
  • Have you tried to limit the amount you use of the frequency with which you use and been unable to follow through?
  • Have you become uncomfortable mentally and/or physically when you are sober?
  • Have you found yourself using far more than you intended?

What to Do

Ultimately, an addiction is marked by the compulsive need to use drugs, even when you are aware of the negative consequences caused by continued drug use. If you answered yes to a lot of these questions, it indicates a problem with drug use. People who follow similar patterns of behavior have benefitted from professional drug addiction treatment.

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Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed, each of which is a paid advertiser: Rehab Media Group, Recovery Helpline, Alli Addiction Services.

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