We all like to feel that we are in control.
Even when we do things that seem dangerous or counter-productive, we want to convince ourselves – and others – that there isn’t a problem. But are we lying to ourselves?
Addiction is a slow, silent thief. It steals our time, our money, our families, and can even steal life itself. Recovery is possible for any addiction, but you first have to recognize the signs indicating a problem. Many of these are easy to “sweep under the rug” or blame on unrelated/made-up scenarios when people confront us, but taking a long, hard look in the mirror at our lives is the first step to regaining true control over addiction.
1. Shifts in Priorities and Neglecting Responsibilities
People with substance use disorder or any behavior addiction will inevitably get to a point where the substance or habit will take over the top spot on their list of priorities. Regardless of any consequences, and even if the person cannot support their habit (financially or otherwise), the need for the addiction takes precedence.
2. Negative Consequences Aren’t a Deterrent
You may notice negative side effects, but choose to ignore them. Opioid painkiller overuse could cause digestive issues. Nosebleeds caused by cocaine use and bruises from heroin injections become things to hide or explain away. Even being pulled over and arrested for driving while intoxicated may not be enough to convince someone to seek help for a drinking problem.
These are all signs that are easy to dismiss in the moment. However, when you take a look at the big picture, they are evidence of a problem that deserves your attention
3. Avoiding Social Activities, Lying, and Covering-Up
You may begin alienating yourself from friends that don’t engage in your substance use or habit, possibly justifying it by saying they wouldn’t understand or would judge you. If you skip out on a lunch date with a friend because it’s at an establishment that doesn’t serve alcohol, this suggests your drinking may be taking control of your life.
Maybe you’re in denial over your own misuse of substances, indulging secretly and lying to others (as well as yourself) about how much of an addictive substance you are consuming. You may be telling yourself a limit and going well over it, or have tried to quit your habit on your own but failed. These are all warning signs that your problem is bigger than you may realize.
4. Engaging in Risky Behaviors to Support a Habit
Having a habit to support can be difficult for people suffering from substance use disorder. Sometimes even the most responsible individuals can find themselves engaging in risky behaviors and dangerous situations to support their addiction.
Whether it’s stealing from friends, interacting with dangerous people in dangerous places to get what your body is craving, or risking arrest, these are huge warning signs. You may even be risking your life and running the risk of contracting incurable diseases like HIV by using dangerous methods to get high and sharing needles.
5. Tolerance and Withdrawal Symptoms
Tolerance is defined as your body adapting to a substance to the point you need more of it to achieve the same effect. Along with being tolerant to a substance or habit, you may also be unable to stop once you start – be it drinking alcohol, exercising, gambling, eating, or using substances.
When your body has adapted itself to having a certain amount of your habit or substance and it doesn’t get that amount, you can suffer symptoms of withdrawal. These can include any feelings of sickness resulting from not fulfilling one’s addiction. You can have bouts of sweating, anxiety, nausea and vomiting, shaking, hallucinations, jumpiness, sweating, or any combination of these.
Different substances and habits, as well as each individual’s body structure determine what forms your withdrawal symptoms will take. Recovery healthcare professionals are trained to help combat these symptoms and help people suffering from substance use disorder detoxify their bodies in the safest way possible.
6. Issues in Relationships
A person suffering from substance use disorder or any habitual addiction can start to notice problems in the relationships they have with other people. It can be easy to blame this on the other people, but it’s usually the controlling substance or habit causing the problem.
You may find yourself acting out against those closest to you – particularly if someone is attempting to address the addiction. You may have had complaints from co-workers, supervisors, teachers, or classmates about your change in attitude, lack of responsibility, and frequent issues. There may be a lack of trust in your personal relationships due to your addiction-related actions.
Your friends, family, and significant other are likely all suffering because you’ve made this habit a higher priority than them. Your actions and lack of interest in anything outside of your habit can break down relationships that may have once seemed unbreakable.
If you feel the people in your life deserve the best you possible, this is an undeniable sign to seek professional substance use disorder and addiction therapy.
Addiction Isn’t Just Substances
In a 2016 study, it was determined by the US Surgeon General that one out of every seven Americans will face substance addiction. That means at some point in their lives, these people will become dependent or addicted to using a substance. This doesn’t include the people who can become addicted to habits or otherwise-normal things such as food, exercise, or using social media.
An addiction doesn’t have to be something illegal or unhealthy to be detrimental. Anything that is overused will cause problems in your health, your mental state, and even your relationships.
Never overlook something you assume is just a habit. It could be snowballing to larger proportions than you realize and affecting more aspects of your life than you notice! Recovery is possible when you put yourself in the right situations, and your trust in the right people.