One of the most difficult parts of struggling with addiction is admitting the struggle to yourself. It’s easy to justify your addictive behaviors by telling yourself you’ve just had a rough day, or need to blow off a little steam, or vowing that you’ll tone it down next time (but never following through). 

If you’ve stumbled upon this page, you just might be seeking some guidance for yourself or a loved one. It’s important to commend the act of doing some research on the subject, whether you’ve come to a firm conclusion or not. Thinking about the issue openly and honestly is a fantastic first step, whether there’s a substance abuse problem or not.

If one or more of the following signs applies to you, it might be time to look into rehab or other addiction treatment options. If not, you might benefit from brushing up on substance abuse prevention for the future, and finding ways to cope that don’t involve drinking or using substances.

You feel like you can’t handle your life without substances.

This can show up in a variety of ways, but the bottom line to consider is: do you feel that you need a certain substance to cope with everyday life? 

Perhaps this means needing to self-medicate for your depression or anxiety in order to make it through the day. It could mean using stimulants to give you enough energy to handle your daily routine, or using other substances for their social benefits. 

Consider whether you’d be willing to go through a social event or a regular day without using the substance in question. If the idea is upsetting to you, this might be indicative of a problem.

You’re choosing substance use over other things in your life.

If a loved one mentions that they don’t want to drink or party tonight, pay attention to your reaction. Does this make you frustrated? Would you bail on plans with someone who didn’t want to be around substances tonight?

If you’re given the choice between substance abuse and spending time with a loved one, and you choose the substance, this may also be a warning sign to pay close attention to.

Substance abuse is greatly affecting your life.

It’s unfortunately very unlikely that you can actively abuse substances while maintaining good grades or excellent work performance. You might feel like you have extra energy or are more relaxed for a short while, but using substances at work will end poorly sooner or later.

If you’re partying all night without regard for getting a proper night’s sleep before work or school, or if you’re missing a significant amount of work or school due to partying or withdrawal symptoms, this could be a red flag.

You’ve tried to quit, but haven’t succeeded

At some point, you might have thought to yourself: it’s probably a good idea for me to at least take a break– just to feel a little better, or to spend more time with family, or to get an important project completed. 

The problem arises when you want to quit, but are overcome with the urge to use your substance of choice– an urge so strong you can’t resist it. You may even have trouble cutting back or trying to limit your intake. This struggle doesn’t mean that you’re weak or lack willpower– it may just mean that you’re struggling with a disease.

You experience bad mental or physical side effects when you’re not using.

Mood-altering substances affect your brain chemistry, which means that when the effects wear off, you’ll most likely feel a little “off”. If you’re experiencing incapacitating hangovers that force you to miss work, school, or social obligations, this could be a big problem. Experiencing severe depression after using is another red flag. If you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms, like fatigue, weakness, vomiting, chills, and more, this could be indicative of a serious problem, too.

Some withdrawal symptoms are quite serious, and if you’re not feeling well, it’s important to know when to seek medical attention. Alcohol abuse, for example, can cause fatal withdrawal symptoms. It’s best to ask a medical professional, or at the very least, contact an addiction hotline like SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357. If you realize that it’s time to seek addiction treatment, you can give us a call here at Pecan Haven; we can walk you through an over-the-phone assessment and get you into rehab or addiction treatment as soon as possible.