Drug and alcohol addiction can dramatically impact the lives of users as well as their loved ones. However, though addiction is prevalent, only a small fraction of individuals with a substance abuse problem seek out help and treatment. Admitting that you have lost control or are suffering is extremely challenging, but the cost of leaving addiction untreated is far worse. Untreated addiction affects an individual, both in personal, societal, and health terms. While entering treatment is certainly a difficult decision, it is necessary for getting back on track and living the best and healthiest version of your life. Are you a functional alcoholic?
So how do you know when you should seek out help and treatment in an addiction rehabilitation program? Here are just four of the red-flag signs that indicate it’s time to get help.
1. Your ability to function normally is significantly impaired.
While this may sound subjective, most people can, when they truly examine the situation, determine if they are no longer able to lead their normal lives. Substance abuse and addiction become problematic when it begins to interfere with a normal day’s activities. Not being able to go to work and function efficiently, being late or not showing up for other engagements, loss of or excessive amounts of sleep, losing weight and/or being unable to eat healthy amounts of food, and having strained relationships with those around you are just some examples of the way that consistent drug abuse can negatively impact one’s ability to function. Substance addiction can also cause mood swings, impaired logic and judgement, and the decision to engage in risky behaviours that you would not normally participate in. If any of these begin to characterize your life, it’s a sign that it’s time to seek help.
2. Withdrawal symptoms present themselves.
While small degrees of withdrawal may present even after minimal or single-incident drug use, more extreme symptoms are a sign that the body is addicted and your health is at risk. Those who are entering a state of withdrawal may experience headaches, cramps, nausea, insomnia, irritability, paranoia, and even bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea, even after only a few hours without the drug.
If you experience any of these symptoms, be aware that it will only get worse. This is how addiction strengthens its hold, and the only way to break the cycle is to fight back. Addiction treatment centres will require clients to undergo a complete detox upon admittance to the program. The detox is undergone under the supervision of experienced medical personnel who can monitor your health and keep the experience as safe as possible throughout. After detoxing and going through withdrawal, therapy and other activities will allow for the recognition of triggers and the development of positive coping mechanisms that can be used as tools for resisting relapse in the future.
3. You feel helpless or are hanging on by a thread.
Maybe you have tried to cut down on your usage but found that you could not. You may have wanted to quit but felt powerless. Likewise, you may have tried to quit but were unable to for any prolonged amount of time. This is, again, a sign that your body is physically addicted to the substance and that willpower alone will not be a safe method for getting clean. Oftentimes, it can be difficult even to get to this point. Lying to others about your usage and rationalizing using to yourself only builds walls, leaving you feeling isolated and trapped. When you fully accept that you need assistance in kicking the addiction, you can only expect freedom from your personal prison on the other side.
4. Your loved ones have told you that you have a problem.
This is perhaps one of the strongest social indicators that you should consider seeking addiction treatment. While physical symptoms and getting into uncomfortable situations or legal trouble are all strong indicators that your addiction problem has progressed, those closest to you likely know you best. If they are concerned and ask you to stop using, it is for good reason. Addiction often causes the user to wear goggles, not seeing their behaviour for what it truly is. The truth is masked and morphed, fitting into a narrative that the user has created. An observer is often able to see more clearly, observing changes from the outside.
Peter Lang is a freelance writer from Atlanta, Georgia. In recovery himself, he is dedicated to helping others who struggle with addiction.