Has You or Your Loved One’s Drinking or Drug Use Become a Problem?
Problems with Alcohol
Sometimes, it can be hard to draw the line between casual drinking and problematic drinking. Alcohol is so prevalent in American society that certain behaviors can become normalized and prevent you from recognizing that a problem exists.
Red Flags for Alcoholism
- Hiding or lying about your drinking
- Getting arrested or getting into legal trouble because of drinking-related behavior
- Making excuses for drinking
- Drinking at odd times of the day
- Drinking alone
- Feeling bad or guilty about your drinking
- Drinking first thing in the morning
- Feeling like you should cut down on your drinking
- Feeling like you need a drink to get through the day
- Noticing others making comments about your drinking
- Worrying about having enough alcohol for an evening or weekend
- Feeling annoyed when others criticize your drinking
Heavy drinking in and of itself doesn’t make someone an alcoholic. In fact, an estimated 40 million adults in America drink too much, and most — 90 percent — are not alcoholics.
That said, regular heavy drinking is an important warning sign for alcohol addiction, according to addiction experts at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Heavy drinking in conjunction with other behaviors can also signal a problem.
Want to learn if your drinking is problematic? Take our quiz at the bottom of the page.
Problems with Substances
A drug addiction or alcohol use disorder can be difficult to identify without an understanding of the signs of addiction. Substance use disorders can change the way people look, how they act and how they feel, and the symptoms of drug abuse can be physical, behavioral and psychological in nature.
Fortunately for concerned family members and friends, there are many easily identifiable characteristics of addiction and many types of drug addictions share similar signs and symptoms. If someone can recognize the symptoms of addiction, they may be able to help a friend or family member who struggles with this disease.
- Often taking more of the substance for a longer period than intended
- Ongoing desire or unsuccessful efforts to reduce use
- Great deal of time spent to obtain, use or recover from substance
- Craving the substance
- Failing to fulfill obligations at work, home or school as a result of continued use
- Continued use despite ongoing social or relationship problems caused or worsened by use
- Giving up or reducing social, occupational or recreational activities because of use
- Repeated use in physically dangerous situations (like drinking or using other drugs while driving, or smoking in bed)
- Continued use despite ongoing physical or mental health problems caused or worsened by use
- Developing tolerance (feeling less effect from the substance with continued use)
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after reducing use (symptoms vary by substance). Withdrawal does not happen with all substances; examples include inhalants and hallucinogens
Counseling Can Help
The benefits of addiction counseling are designed to help you gain support and find deeper understanding about your situation. It’s not uncommon to think that you can handle all of your troubles on your own. If you’re like most addicts, you’ve probably thought that you have had control over your drinking or using at some point. Some addicts stay in their addiction for years because they refuse to believe that they need help or that anyone could help them even if they wanted it. The isolation of one’s addiction can be potentially fatal, so it’s important to set aside your old ideas and seek the help from others.
When you’ve been addicted for a long time, it’s understandable that you have feelings of guilt or shame. The disease of addiction can take the most kind, loving person and make them go through a transformation that seems to defy all logic. Addicts are suffering from a disease that makes them do whatever they have to in order to continue drinking or using. This includes lying and stealing from the people who they care about the most.
You don’t have to let these feelings hold you back from seeking the help of a professional addiction counselor. They are there to help you understand that you’re not a bad person. The disease of addiction can make anyone do things that they aren’t proud of, but they’re suffering from an illness. One of the benefits of addiction counseling is that you’ll be able to talk through these feelings and learn how you can begin on a path to right the wrongs you’ve made in your addiction.
“It will hurt. It will take time. It will require dedication, willpower and sacrifice. You will need to push your body to its max. There will be temptation. But I promise, it’s worth it.” -Recovering Addict