If you are concerned that you or your loved one may be an addict or an alcoholic here are some warning signs of addiction which you can consider. Of course, no one can tell you that you definitely are an addict or an alcoholic, but considering these 12 warning signs of addiction can help you contemplate if you may have an issue.
Substance abuse is a scary thing and can lead to serious mental, emotional and physical complications. Many people struggle with addiction for too long because they don’t know the warning signs of addiction and they don’t know that there is real help available. Substance abuse treatment at a licensed facility is typically the best way to address addiction and alcoholism. These treatment programs will not only help you stop using drugs and alcohol, but they will address the core issues which led to the issue in the first place and help you stay clean.
If you or your loved one think they may have a problem with substance abuse, the first step is to diagnose the issue. To determine if drug or alcohol use is truly a problem, consider there 12 warning signs of addiction:
Do you drink or use drugs alone?
Isolation is one of the major warning signs of addiction. Once someone’s substance abuse problem becomes significant there can be a substantial amount of shame and guilt which drives someone to pull away from their family and friends. Most normal users of alcohol and recreational drugs use them in social settings, but addicts and alcoholics tend to use and drink alone. This issue can sometimes be quite obvious, especially when someone who is usually very social and happy becomes quiet, reserved and detached from their friends and family. While things like this can happen in the absence of a substance abuse problem, it is a common sign for someone who is struggling with addiction or alcoholism.
Have you even tried to quit but failed?
One of the most significant warning signs of addiction is the inability to stop, even when you want to. This is what differentiates a heavy user of drugs and/or alcohol from an addict or an alcoholic. Addicts, by definition, can not stop for a significant amount of time on their own. While some may be able to abstain for a few weeks or even months, without professional treatment true addicts tend to return to using at some point. Another variation of this warning sign is when a person initiates a plan to control or moderate their drinking or using and cannot. Considering that you need to change your relationship with drugs or alcohol at all is a sign that you feel there is a problem.
Have you ever stolen to obtain drugs?
Because addiction is characterized by the overwhelming need to drink or use even in the face of extreme difficulty or mounting consequences, many addicts must resort to stealing or committing other crimes to obtain their drugs. This is one of the warning signs of addiction because it signifies a person’s inability to stop using or drinking if they can not obtain substances in a normal manner and therefore must resort to things like theft. This is what can lead people into situations where they not only have problems with substance abuse, but things like legal issues as well.
Are your family and friends concerned about your drinking or using?
When it comes to warning signs of addiction, family and friends are typically able to see them much before the actual addict or alcoholic is able to admit their problem to themselves. While it is not uncommon for someone struggling with excessive drinking or drug use, one of the first signs that there is a problem is when family members voice their concerns. If you are concerned about a loved one’s drinking or using it is important to approach them with compassion and concern as opposed to anger or accusations. Just remember, they are most likely scared and don’t see a way out. Be there to offer them help and let them know that they can overcome their problems as long as they are willing to do something about it.
Have you ever lost a job from your drinking or using? –
As is the case with many of the warning signs of addiction, this warning sign has to do with the continued use of drugs and alcohol in the face of significant consequences. One of the most common consequences which can result from addiction or alcoholism is losing your job. This can also come in the form of a lack of ambition to get a job, as those who are struggling with addiction tend to have a difficult time finding the motivation or the ability to look for work. The critical aspect here is that the consequences of drinking or using are creating issues in someone’s life but they are still unable to stop.
Have you ever been arrested because of your drinking or using?
Excessive drinking and/or drug use can lead many people to make poor decisions which may result in them getting in trouble with the law. For alcoholics this may present itself as a DUI or public drunkenness, and for drug users it often times comes in the form of arrests for the possession or sale of illegal drugs. While these things can happen to people who are not addicts or alcoholics, the real differentiator is whether or not someone continues to drink or use after they happen. If so, this can be one of the potential warning signs of addiction.
Do you think about drugs when you don’t have them?
For drug addicts and alcoholics, using drugs and alcohol becomes an essential part of life. The thought of getting drunk or high becomes the overriding thought that consumes their lives and determines many of their actions. Because of this, the thought of not having drugs or alcohol can be extremely scary for them and when they are in situations where they do not have access to substances they can be completely overwhelmed with the thoughts on how to obtain and consume drugs or alcohol. Most non-addicts may enjoy using drugs or alcohol, however when they do not have them to use they are typically able to go about their lives normally without thinking constantly about using.
Do you use drugs or alcohol to control your emotions?
Perhaps the most common reason that addicts and alcoholics drink or use drugs is in order to regulate their emotional state. People who struggle with substance abuse tend to struggle with emotional and mental issues such as anxiety, depression or trauma. Unfortunately, when these things are left untreated they can be extremely uncomfortable which is why many people turn to drugs and alcohol to help them numb or lessen these issues. While they may help dull these feelings they do not remove them and in many cases, can cause them to become worse, leading to the progressive nature of the disease of addiction. This is why professional treatment for these issues is so crucial as getting real help with these underlying emotional problems is one of the major keys to success in long term recovery.
Do you experience physical withdrawal symptoms when you stop?
One of the most easily recognizable warning signs for addiction can be physical withdrawal symptoms. Many substances like alcohol, opiates and benzodiazepines can cause very severe and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when someone stops taking them. These symptoms can range from things like diarrhea, insomnia and nausea to very dangerous issues like seizures. These withdrawal symptoms are one of the biggest obstacles many people have which prevents them from getting help, however there are medical detox facilities which can help anyone struggling with addiction to get through them with the help of doctors and medications.
Do you hide your drinking and using?
Feeling the need to conceal your drinking or drug use is another one of the most common warning signs of addiction. If someone is hiding their drinking or drug use, then they probably think that their family would not approve of it and would have concerns about their emotional and mental health. Some part of them knows that what they are doing is not healthy, which is why they decided to attempt to hide these actions from their family to keep from being judged and perhaps coerced into getting help for their problem. Most non-addicts do not feel the need to hide their use because they do not feel that there is anything wrong with it.
Have any of your relatives had a problem with drugs or alcohol?
Recent scientific data has provided quite a bit of compelling evidence that addiction and alcoholism is most likely a genetic issue. This means that those who have close relatives who have struggled with alcoholism and/or drug addiction tend to have a higher risk of struggling with the issue themselves. While this certainly does not mean that everyone who has a close family member who struggled with substance abuse will also struggle with it themselves, it does mean that they may need to keep a closer eye on their own patterns of consumption for things like alcohol and recreational drugs.
Have you ever wondered if you have a problem?
While it sometimes can be difficult to determine if you or your loved one truly has a problem with addiction, it is a general rule of thumb that even needing to consider the question is one of the warning signs of addiction. If drinking alcohol or using drugs has gotten to a point where you think there may be an issue, it is a very real possibility that it is. Contemplating that you may have a drinking problem is typically not something that people who don’t have a substance abuse issue do.
12 Warning Signs of Addiction
While none of these warning signs of addiction are a way to diagnose someone with drug addiction or alcoholism, they are a good way to determine if there is an issue which may warrant the help of a substance abuse professional or a doctor to assess the situation. Also, just because a person is not displaying any of these warning signs does not mean that they absolutely do not have a substance abuse problem either. Addiction and alcoholism impact everyone differently and the only person who can truly decide if they have a problem is the individual themselves. However, if and when they do come to this conclusion they are on their way to recovery. With the help of a licensed treatment facility and knowledgeable counselors they can turn their lives around and live happy and meaningful lives.