Substance Abuse: Identifying the Signs and Seeking Professional Help
There are some of us who can use recreational or prescription drugs without any negative backlash or threat for addiction. However, for others, the very onset of substance abuse can begin to cause a downhill spiral of issues in their life. When left untreated, substance abuse and addiction can cause problems at home, work, or school. Whether you’re concerned about your own life or worried about the life of a friend or family member, getting help is of the utmost importance.
Learning more about substance abuse, and how it all began can provide you with a better understanding of your issues and help you to better determine how to get help.
How Substance Abuse and Addiction Begin
There are many reasons why people decide to experiment with drugs. However, for the most part substances are abused because they make a person feel good about themselves, or they stop a person from feeling bad (or so they assume). Many do not understand the difference between regular use, abuse, and addiction. In fact, very few addicts are able to tell when they have reached this point themselves. While the amount and type of drugs used does not determine abuse or addiction, one of the most common reasons using substances can turn from abuse to addiction is:
When the Substance Fills a Valuable Need – When you believe the substances you’re taking fills a need (physical or mental) you will become dependent upon the substance on the daily basis. For example, some people may use drugs to calm them down from a long stressful day, while others take drugs to relieve pain. In these instances, the abuser has determined that they need the substances to make it through the day. Rather than try alternative solutions like meditation for emotional issues or physical therapy and stretches for physical aches, abusers rely heavily on drugs.
Recognizing Symptoms of Drug Abuse or Addiction
If you believe that your substance fills a valuable need such as those described above, you really need to consider getting help. There is professional assistance for you no matter what your issues may be. Often the first obstacle is recognizing and admitting that you have an issue to begin with. Below are a few signs and symptoms to review:
· Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home as a result of your drug use
· You’re taking huge risks while under the influence (i.e. driving while under the influence, unprotected sex, etc.)
· You’re getting into legal trouble as a result of your drug use
· Your personal relationships are failing
· You’ve built up a tolerance which causes you to take more substances to achieve the same “high”
· You’ve begun taking drugs as a means for relieving withdrawal symptoms
· Your life revolves around the use of drugs
· You’re no longer participating in activities you once enjoyed
· You use drugs despite impending health risks
· You’ve tried several times to quit but can’t
You’ve already taken the first leap of faith by recognizing the signs and the fact that you have a problem. Now it’s important to seek professional help for your drug issues. It is ideal that you don’t try to kick the habit on your own. Addiction is often very complex and requires a mixture of treatments including consulting with a substance abuse counselor for therapy, potentially taking medications to help you physically, and lifestyle changes to avoid triggers. Since this essentially means learning a new way of life, it can take the assistance and support of others.
It might seem harmless in the beginning to take “one pill” or to roll “one joint” as a means for fitting in, masking pain, or simply “having fun”. But at the end of the day, this can easily turn into substance abuse or addiction which can really do damage in your life. If you or someone you know has been struggling with substance abuse or addiction, identifying the warning signs, accepting that there’s an issue, and seeking professional help is the only way to reclaim life and get back on track.