If you are asking yourself if you really have a problem when it comes to drugs or alcohol, chances are the answer is “Yes!” Recognizing that you have a problem and admitting it are the first steps in starting your life as a person who is clean, sober and – most important – truly living!

Drug use doesn’t automatically lead to abuse; the problem can sneak up on you. Most drug addictions actually start with experimental use in social situations. What was once a voluntary choice can become a physical and psychological need. Another term for drug addiction is substance use disorder, which is a dependence on a legal or illegal medication.

Be honest with yourself:

Among the questions you should answer honestly. Do you:

  • Feel you have to use your drug of choice on a regular basis? Are you using more often than you planned?
  • Need more of the drug to achieve the same effect?
  • Crave the drug intensely?
  • Do you feel strange when the drug wears off? Are you shaky? Have nausea? A headache? Are you tired or not hungry?
  • Are you having problems at works, home or school?
  • Have you stopped paying attention to your family or social obligations? Have normal daily activities become difficult?
  • Are drugs getting you into legal trouble? Have you been arrested for disorderly conduct, a DUI or stealing to support your habit?
  • Are the hobbies or sports you once enjoyed now of no interest? Have you stopped socializing and dropped your friends for a new group of acquaintance who also use drugs?
  • For prescription drug users who feel they might be addicted, questions include:
    • Are you upfront with your doctors about the drugs you are taking?
    • Are you taking more of the drug than prescribed? Or taking it in a way other than directed? Do you take it with water, or are you swallowing your pill with alcohol, or combining it with other drugs?
    • Do you use medications prescribed for others? Do you look in the medicine chests of friends, family or neighbors to see what drugs you can take?
    • Do you keep drugs after they’re needed?

Behaviors of the Addicted

Those who abuse drugs will neglect responsibilities, use drugs under dangerous conditions or take risks while high. Drug addicts may exhibit secretive and suspicious behavior. Their eyes may be bloodshot or have larger or smaller pupils than usual. They may have changes in appetite, with sudden weight loss or gain, and also alterations in their sleep patterns. Personal grooming habits may be neglected, and have unusual smells on their body, breath or clothes. Impaired coordination, slurred speech and tremors are often physical signs of a drug addict.

Behaviors change among the addicted, too. Work and school attendance and performance can suffer. People in the grip of addiction may have financial problems. They may have personality changes that affect their attitude, with angry outbursts, depression, irritability, lack of motivation, lethargy, periodic giddiness or hyperactivity, and sudden mood swings. Unexplained paranoia and anxious, fearful behavior is common.

No One is Immune from Addiction

Drug abuse affects people of all ages, gender and economic status. The long- and short-term effects can be significant and damaging.

Help is available! Don’t let feelings of isolation, helplessness or shame stop you from entering treatment. In recovery, you will learn how to deal with problems and relate to others. You don’t need drugs; you need encouragement, support and guidance! You can find it at a rehab facility, through a self-help program or therapy. Rely on your family members, close friends, counselors, and therapists, others in recovery, healthcare providers, your church, synagogue or other faith communities. Treatment takes time, patience and hard work.

You’re up to the challenge!