Am I abusing drugs, do I have a substance addiction?
The answer to this is if you are using any illegal drugs, you are abusing that substance. If you are using legal drugs for anything but the prescribed reason, you are abusing drugs. If you are using drugs, for the right reason, but you are taking too much drug too often, you are abusing that substance.
Do you HAVE to use?
You can abuse alcohol/drugs without being dependent on them but if you find you HAVE to use the it then you may have substance addiction. Perhaps it’s just trying something with friends at a party, or maybe a person hurts and they want to numb the pain.
It can start many ways, and different drugs are more addictive than others, but once the drug reaches the point where a person needs the drugs because of withdrawal symptoms and compulsively works to get the drug, regardless of the impact on their friends and family, their job and their community, then that their life is beginning to be controlled by the drug.
It’s so easy to abuse drugs. Doctors prescribe medication, then the patient goes to another doctor to get the same prescription. Drugs are all over the television and Americans pop pills like they used to take a teaspoon of Geritol. If you say “I’m going to party,” the very phrase implies drugs or alcohol.
Ask yourself an important question. “Is this in my best interest?” Is it OK to take a drink? Sure, but when you get drunk, you’re abusing alcohol, the most common substance addiction is ALCOHOL.
One in Ten Will Become Alcoholic!
Recent studies show that of those who drink regularly 10% have brain chemistry that predisposes them to alcoholism. One is ten doesn't sound to bad you say? Well, think of what percentage of the population drinks regularly and that one in ten will will have a substance addiction to alcohol.
That means one in ten college kids who drink at college will have a problem with alcohol based on the brain chemistry, there is nothing they can do.
Is getting drunk in my best interest? Probably not. But it’s socially acceptable, that is until you get behind the wheel of a car and blow a 1.2 when you get stopped. That’s abuse.
What's the line?
The line between legal drug use and abuse is rather fine and individual factors come into play, such as the person’s gender, weight, the drug consumed, family background, etc. One person can take pain medication to ease the discomfort of an injury without any worry of becoming dependent.
Another person is prescribed the same drug, for he same purpose, and winds up popping pills like candy. One use is medically sound and helps the person recover. The other takes a temporary problem, such as a knee injury, and turns it into a substance addiction.
Ask yourself: Am I taking the legal, medically prescribed drug, in the prescribed quanties, for its intended purpose? If I am supposed to take one, do I take two? Do I take the drug at the right times? Did I go to the same doctor and is he/she aware of EVERYTHING I'm taking?
You will begin to see the line between abuse and addiction if you're able to be honest with yourself.
We receive stories all of the time from people who have or are struggling with Substance Addiction. Here is Kathleen's story an unvarnished look at the most common substance addiction... alcohol addiction:
"To Anyone Struggling"
Alcohol and drugs talk to me. You may think that is crazy and it may very well be. I am not concerned with that at this point. What alcohol and drugs tell me is that I am just fine. My life is fine. My behavior is fine. My thoughts are fine. I do not need any friends or relationships because, well, to be frank, people just suck.
People have always disappointed me and let me down. People have broken my heart and it still remains broken to this day. In order to compensate for the absence of relationships, family, and friendships in my life, alcohol and drugs are the answer.
They are there for me and always will be. They make life tolerable. They comfort me when I am anxious, sad, or just in despair about anything and everything. They are always available; no need to worry about waiting.
My addictive nature wants to be holed up in my apartment as often as possible, getting high and drunk. That is all that I need and it is all that matters in life. If I must be out in the world, whether at school, work, or the grocery store, I retreat to restrooms to be alone so I can snort a line or drink some beer. As long as I have my substances, life isn't so bad.
On the other hand, the part of me that is still alive knows that this is all a big delusion. I am delusional because my disease has taken over my mind and I do not possess the strength or vitality to disagree with anything it tells me. So I believe everything. I believe that people in AA are full of shxx and do not care about me. I believe that in order to be comfortable in my own skin, I require doses of alcohol or drugs. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
It's How My Brain Is Wired!
That is just the way my brain is wired. So I am in a constant battle. Part of me says no and the other part says yes. Part of me says stop and the other part says go. Lately, I seem to go along with whatever the addictive part of me says, regardless of how crazy, senseless, or self-destructive it may be.
I am a master at justifying and rationalizing my behavior. Whether it's against the law or not. Whether or not it hurts people. Whether or not it harms me in the end. My disease always seems to have the last say. The last word.
No matter how much AA and recovery is in my head. None of that can overcome the language in which my disease speaks. It's as though it's my first language and nothing else makes any sense.
I just KEEP drinking, no matter what!
The only thing that makes sense and the only thing I can comprehend is to keep drinking. To keep using. No matter what the consequences are. No matter who dies. No matter how much destruction is made. Keep at it. Keep getting drunk. Keep getting high. Keep breaking the law. Keep lying. Keep cheating. Keep stealing. Keep working hard to make everything seem like it's fine.
Even if you're sick; keep drinking. Even if you have no money; sell your body. Because if you don't get that next hit or drink, you won't survive. You won't be able to handle life. You won't be able to handle that mind of yours that keeps racing with thoughts.
I have been sick from drinking too much alcohol. I have thrown up. I kept drinking, despite the fact that my body said no. No more poison. I continued to pour the booze down my throat because that was what my mind told me to do.
Here is Ned's response to Kathleen's story of Substance Abuse:
To those who do not suffer from the disease of addiction, who have never been stepped on, disappointed or alienated from the world, Kathleen's story seems for distant and unbelievable.
Yet, her story is repeated millions of times.
The question I ask is "What hurts?"
What drives a person to commit suicide by the installment plan and throw their life away as if it had no meaning or purpose?
Obviously the physical toll drugs and alcohol take are dreadful, and the emotional pain that she talks about is difficult to comprehend, but addiction is a disease of the spirit and requires a spiritual solution.
The spiritual pain in her story touches my heart, as the decline of the spirit precedes the death of the body.
I understand that many disregard AA and refuse to accept the wisdom of the addicts who wrote the Big Book, but when they wrote that the disease is spiritual, they hit on something that is the key to unlocking the mystery behind all of the bad decision making, the broken relationships and the disappointments of life.
For more answers to Substance Addiction Questions go to Treatments
Do you have more Substance Addiction Questions? Click on the "Your Questions..." button on the left.
Summary of Substance Addiction:
Substance Addiction is a disease of the brain and therefore effective treatment MUST change brain chemistry.
Substance Addiction requires detoxification before any treatment can be effective, detox can be dangerous and should always have medical supervision.
Substance Addiction can have a genetic component to it.
Substance Addiction differs from abuse if the person has to use more and more to experience the same effect, or put another becomes tolerant to the substance.
This site contains five MAIN pages that EVERYONE should read:
Read these five pages and learn what you need to know to spot drug addiction in:
Yourself... Your Family... Your Friends... Your Community...
The rest of the pages are there for your reference to explain important topics in more detail.
Finally don’t miss the Spiritual and 12-step sections to fully explore how understanding THE SPIRIT can lead to recovery!