Although only alcohol is legal, both drinking and recreational drug use are considered socially acceptable. Depending on your background, age, and social circle, they may even be an expectation. In moderation, alcohol consumption is safe and okay. Many people, especially young adults, find the same to be true for mild recreational drug use. Others begin with the intention of having fun and end up mentally or even physically dependent.
What works for some may not work for others, and just because your friends can drink 3 days in a row and not have an issue does not mean the same goes for you. Likewise, some might be able to use drugs on occasion and have no repercussions, while others get hooked the first time. There is a fine line between recreational use and addiction, and many find it hard to pinpoint the difference. If you use drugs and alcohol and think you may have crossed that line, here are ten signs you’re no longer using for social/recreational reasons-you may have a substance problem in need of addressing.
1. Neglecting Responsibilities
Once in a while, we cut ourselves a break, push aside our responsibilities, and let loose with friends. It’s okay to have fun and enjoy yourself, especially when under high levels of stress. When this starts to become a habit, however, and postponing important things turns into ignoring them to drink or do drugs instead, this is a sure sign you’re starting to lose control. Not getting things done at work, canceling on meetings or family time last minute, and emptying your schedule at the opportunity to use are all things you do when you are, to some level, addicted.
2. You Take It Too Far
While your friends are tipsy enough to have some extra giggles and maybe a few bad dance moves, you find yourself waking up with embarrassing memories, or maybe none at all. People who begin to develop a problem with drugs or alcohol often don’t know their limits or aim to test them. Blacking out, bad hangovers or strong physical and emotional ramifications after a night out are signs you aren’t controlling your intake/usage. Overuse is dangerous and even potentially fatal, and typically tips off friends and family that you may be struggling.
3. Your Health is Suffering
Many times when we begin to engage in unhealthy habits, we don’t recognize them as being negative until our body tells us. Maybe emotionally you feel totally fine, but your body is sluggish and achy with a general feeling of impaired immunity. In some cases early on, the body is fine but the mind is riddled with fog and you aren’t feeling like yourself. Your body knows you best, so if it’s telling you something is off, listen!
4. High Tolerance
It used to take you only a small amount to feel the buzz you were looking for, but now it takes a whole lot more. What three drinks used to do now takes five, or one hit just doesn’t seem to affect you anymore. The more you use, the higher the tolerance. If your body is used to a substance, that means it is considering it a regular habit. This is a clear sign you’re abusing a substance.
5. Physical Withdrawal
Physical withdrawal symptoms will vary on the person and the substance. Some signs include: nausea, anxiety, irritability, headaches, and insomnia. When you become dependent on a substance and stop using, your body thinks it needs it and produces these physical symptoms to tell you to get more. Physical withdrawal means you are already dependent, and you should seek help to cut the habit.
6. Failed Attempts at Stopping
Early on these attempts might just be saying you won’t go out Friday night, and going anyways. Maybe you always find a reason or excuse that you should drink or do drugs, and tell yourself it’s not your fault. This is often self-denial, and you avoiding the fact that you feel the physical or mental need to use. When deep into addiction, these attempts might be more serious such as overusing or feeling in desperate need of it when trying to stop. Either way, if you can’t control your use-you may have a serious problem with a substance.
7. Relationship issues
When you’re so focused on drug use, you’re likely neglecting your relationships with a partner, friends or family. You might be spending more time with people who use as well, or maybe your drug use has changed your behavior and isn’t sitting well with those who are normally close to you. When you become too fixated on a substance you become selfish with your time and thoughts, and this can push people away. If you’re abusing drugs or headed on the path of doing so, your relationships will suffer.
8. Lack of Interest
Friends, hobbies, personal care, and even sex will be pushed aside if you have a drug problem. You might no longer partake in things you once enjoyed, or can’t enjoy them anymore because your mind is focused on substances. When you have an addiction, it becomes your only source of satisfaction. Take a look at the activities you’ve been engaging in, and if you don’t have interest in anything that lacks drugs or alcohol, you might have a problem.
Many addicted to drugs or alcohol begin to lie to friends and family about their usage. Subconscious guilt can lead to making up stories to cover up your tracks, stealing money to afford your habit, and denial to yourself and others in order to avoid facing the truth. If you’re lying about how much you use drugs and alcohol, clearly you feel ashamed or guilty to some degree-so this is a clear sign you have a problem.
10. People are Talking
Addiction gets to a point where it’s almost impossible to hide. All these signs previously listen become apparent to friends and loved ones, and they might begin to worry about you. Sometimes other people know us better than we know ourselves, and they might spot the issue before you know you have one. If someone is concerned about you, there’s a reason. It can be frustrating when others think something about us that we don’t agree with, but try to see where they’re coming from. If someone is worried you may have an addiction problem, listen to them. Look at your usage, habits, and behaviors, and if you do have a problem- seek help.
Getting Help at Wayside House
If you are a woman struggling with addiction and mental health issues, Wayside House can help. We offer a women-only program and provide a safe, supportive environment to recover in. We have outstanding treatments and therapies that are often only found in more expensive programs. We offer inpatient rehab with various therapies, relapse prevention education, outpatient, and aftercare, as well as services for medical professionals and veterans. Contact Wayside House at 800-655-0817 to learn more.