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Ten signs you may have a substance abuse problem


On its surface, the definition of substance abuse seems fairly straightforward: “Overindulgence in or dependence on an addictive substance, especially alcohol or drugs.”

When it comes to a self-diagnosis, however, there’s a lot of prevarication. The idea of dependence on a drug, to the point of abuse, is terrifying — because acknowledging the problem means we have to figure out what to do about it. And for many of us with a substance abuse problem, the idea of life without a chemical to augment the good times or help us forget about the bad is a future we can’t begin to fathom.

But can we really afford not to at least examine whether we have a problem? Consider: More than 70,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2017, an increase of almost 10 percent from the year before. Addiction has its fangs in all races, sexual orientations and socio-economic demographics, which means no one is immune.

Are you one of those individuals? Here are 10 signs you may have a substance abuse problem if:

  1. You feel you have to use a particular drug regularly, up to several times a day.
  2. You obsess about getting high, to the point that all other thoughts about work, school, relationships or responsibilities seem to diminish in priority.
  3. You have to use more of the drug than you once did to achieve the same effects that smaller amounts used to give you.
  4. You feel the need to cover up, hide or lie about what or how much you’re using, even to those cloest to you.
  5. You’re suffering financial or vocational consequences because of your drug use: money problems, reprimands by your employers, failed urine drug screens or other consequences.
  6. Your efforts to cut back or stop your using result in failure. No matter how many times you construct a strict schedule to dictate what and how much you use, you often find yourself “moving the goalposts,” so to speak — rationalizing and justifying why you should indulge until those boundaries are meaningless.
  7. You lose control of your ability to self-regulate after the first one, meaning that you’re unable to do “just one,” or you add additional drugs and alcohol to the mix, until what began as a noble intention to get a slight buzz ends with you getting completely wasted.
  8. You experience withdrawal symptoms when you go for long periods without using, ranging from mild (mood swings and irritability) to severe (gastrointestinal distress, leg cramps, insomnia, restlessness).
  9. Your life seems to hold little meaning outside of getting high: The things that once brought you enjoyment, and the interests you once pursued passionately, fall by the wayside or seem utterly pointless if you can’t use drugs while taking part in them.
  10. You’ve suffered legal or health problems because of your drug use: an arrest, an overdose, the contraction of a drug-related disease or other consequences, and yet they weren’t enough to lead you to decide to stop.

If you answered yes to some or all of these questions, it’s time to have a serious conversation with the person in the mirror. There’s no shame in having a substance abuse problem — in 2013, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 22.7 million Americans needed treatment for a problem related to drugs or alcohol. However, less than 1 percent of that number received addiction treatment at a specialty facility.

If you’re ready to face the truth about your own substance abuse problem, then take that one extra step — get help for it. Call the Admissions Department at Cornerstone of Recovery, 866-865-3689. We’re waiting to help you do something about it.

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