Have you ever wondered whether you need to get help for drug or alcohol abuse? It’s a reasonable question, since there isn’t a test you can take to tell you that you need to consider getting professional help. Some people would say if you are asking the question, it’s a sign you definitely need help, but there are many users who could benefit from a treatment program who don’t see themselves as needing any help at all.
The best way to tell whether you are in a situation where you could benefit from immediately entering a treatment center is by looking at your behavior and being honest with yourself. Here are some signs that you need to consider immediate help.
Signs You Need to Check into Rehab Today
- You Are Using on Your Own, Not Just With Friends
Many people can relate to the idea of coming home from work and pouring themselves a drink if they are on their own to unwind after a long day or even stopping off at a bar “for a quick one” on the way home. Do you find yourself regularly finishing a bottle of wine by yourself or spending the evening in a bar, even if you don’t have plans to meet anyone? Do you start your day off by taking a drink, even if you tell yourself that it’s just a small one?
Are you using recreational drugs during the week, when your friends are only using them on weekends, or occasionally?
Once you are no longer a recreational user and have reached the point where you are using drugs or alcohol as a regular part of your lifestyle, and it doesn’t matter whether you are on your own or not, it’s a sign you have stepped over the line into a problem requiring professional treatment.
- You Have a Mental Health Condition and Are Using Drugs or Alcohol to Treat Your Symptoms
It’s not uncommon for someone who is living with a mental or behavioral health issue to turn to drugs or alcohol as a means to deal with their symptoms. In some instances, a person finds that taking a drink or using drugs is a way to feel better, at least temporarily. If, for example, you are someone who feels anxious or depressed, you might try using alcohol or drugs to feel relaxed and happy.
Unfortunately, these chemicals have the capacity to come back and have the opposite effect from what you expect with long-term use. Alcohol has a reputation for being a depressant, and close to one-third of people living with major depression also abuse alcohol. Drinking tends to make depression worse, and people who are feeling bad because they are depressed may decide to drink more because they feel bad. Antidepressants, which are usually prescribed to treat depression, are less likely to work when the patient is a heavy drinker.
Someone who is living with a mental or behavioral health issue and an addiction is said to have a dual diagnosis. Professional treatment is needed to deal with both conditions concurrently. Waiting to treat the mental health concern until after the addiction has been dealt with only allows those symptoms to continue and perhaps worsen, and the same thing will happen if the mental health disorder is given primary focus while the addiction is allowed to continue without being addressed appropriately.
- You Decide Whether to Attend Social Events Based on Whether Drugs or Alcohol Are Available
One of the signs of addiction is when a person starts to avoid spending time with family and friends in order to use their drug of choice. As the addiction takes hold, it starts to take up more and more of a person’s time and energy. There simply isn’t as much time for them to devote to hobbies and activities that used to be important to them.
A more subtle sign of addiction is when someone will go to a social event, spend time with friends and loved ones, go on day trips, etc. — but only after they have worked out exactly when and how they will be able to have access to their drug of choice. The addiction causes them to obsess about drugs or alcohol, and thinking about them becomes quite time consuming:
- The person fixates on how to buy or acquire more of their drug of choice to make sure their supply is constant.
- If they are not actively using or recovering from the experience, they are planning on how they can get more.
If higher doses are needed to achieve the same high, then the need to keep a steady supply of the drug of choice available becomes even more important. Thinking about drugs or alcohol to the extent that it becomes part of everyday decisions like whether to attend social events is an indication a line has been crossed.
Once being able to drink or use becomes a primary consideration in where you go, who you see, when you decide to go out and how long you are away from your home, you are living with an addiction.
- You Experience Withdrawal Symptoms When You Stop Drinking or Using Drugs
When you don’t take your drug of choice, you start to feel physical and emotional symptoms of withdrawal. You may experience:
- Body aches
Each person’s experience with withdrawal symptoms is different, depending on the type of drug ingested; how long they have been using drugs, including alcohol; the amount they have been using; and their own body chemistry. The exact length of time the withdrawal symptoms will last is difficult to predict. In some instances, they can be quite severe or even life threatening.
In this situation, the thing to do is to look for a treatment center that offers medically assisted detox. During the program, your progress will be monitored by professionals who will be able to provide both over-the-counter and prescription medication to help you feel as comfortable as possible.
- You Lie About How Much You Drink or the Kinds of Drugs You Use
On some level, you know your drug use or level of alcohol consumption is beyond what is usually considered normal or moderate. When you are asked about it, you decide to lie. If this was something you felt comfortable about, it wouldn’t bother you to share it with your friends, even if you decided not to share it with your family.
Not everyone who has a drug problem is using street drugs, though. If the issue is with prescription medications, a warning sign is seeing more than one doctor to get multiple prescriptions for medications or exaggerating symptoms with a primary care doctor to stay on a drug longer than what would normally be the prescribed.
- You Hide Evidence of Your Drug or Alcohol Use From Others
If you take steps to hide your drug habit or the amount you are drinking from your family and friends, it is an indication of a problem. People who are abusing alcohol may hide bottles in different places in their homes, keep one at their place of employment and stash one in their vehicle. A person using illicit drugs will go to even greater lengths to hide their activities from those who don’t share in them.
Another scenario pointing to a problem requiring immediate professional help is if you get to the point where you are concealing the amount you are using from others struggling with drug addiction. In most instances, people want to talk about how much they can drink or do and still “stand.” If you are not prepared to talk about it because you are concerned about the high level of your own habit, consider it one of the signs you need to check into a long term rehab program today.
- You Have Been Told by Others You Should Get Help for Drinking or Drug Use
You may believe you have a handle on your substance habit, but you may not be as good at holding things together as you think. Once you have other people in your life talking to you about your habit, it’s a sign you need professional help. The circle of people you know talking to you about your use of chemicals is likely to start off small and expand over time to:
Spouse or Partner. The first person who might talk to you about your drinking or drug use is likely to be your spouse or partner. This is, after all, the person who is closest to you and knows the most about your personal habits. Using substances is likely to cause conflict in your home if the person closest to you notices that you have been:
- Neglecting your personal hygiene
- Irritable or had mood swings
- Spending limited or no time with them in order to drink or get high
Other Family Members and Friends. As the circle of people you know gets slightly larger, your extended family and friends may start to express concern about you. It may start with the odd comment here and there. You may even have some family members or friends approach you to let you know they are concerned about your drug or alcohol use and the effect it is having on you, your relationships and even your health.
Some of these conversations may not be calm ones. Your family members and friends may feel hurt and angry about the situation. You may feel as though you are dealing with it and other people should just leave you alone and mind their own business. As an adult, it’s difficult to have other people tell you what they think you should do, and no one likes being put on the spot and called out over their behavior.
Your Employer. If you are approached by your supervisor or someone in your company’s personnel department to discuss your work, you may be called on to talk about issues such as absenteeism and job performance. You are more likely to have your employer work with you if you indicate that you are seeking help by going to rehab immediately.
- You Have Episodes Where Your Memory Is Foggy or You Blacked Out Completely Due to Drugs
If you aren’t sure about where you have been or what may have taken place while under the influence, you’ll have no choice but to take someone else’s word for what transpired. You are no longer safe when you are in this state and are at risk for injuring yourself or becoming the victim of a crime.
- You Have Become Involved in Risky Behavior
Waking up the next day and saying to yourself, “I can’t believe I did that!” is not something positive. Risky behaviors around an addiction can involve doing things you would never imagine yourself doing in order to make sure you keep your supply of drugs available to you.
It could involve doing something illegal, hanging out with people you normally would not be spending time with or going into an unsafe area to buy drugs. It can also mean becoming involved in risky sexual behavior, becoming aggressive or even violent, driving too fast or even driving while intoxicated.
- You Have Been Told by Your Doctor to Seek Treatment for Addiction
As part of your regular medical care, your doctor should ask about your normal drinking habits and whether you use recreational drugs. Your physician needs to know about your personal habits so you can be screened for a number of health issues. Alcohol consumption has been linked to the following health conditions, and it makes sense to be honest with your doctor about how much you are drinking:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- High blood pressure
Alcohol is a toxic substance to nerve cells, and if you are drinking heavily, you are exposing yourself to the risk of developing alcoholic neuropathy, a specific type of nerve damage. It affects the extremities, resulting in either numbness or a “pins-and-needles” feeling. Alcoholic neuropathy can also cause other symptoms you may not necessarily associate with your drinking habits, such as constipation, incontinence, muscle weakness and erectile dysfunction in men.
Heavy drinking has also been linked to suppression of the immune system, which makes it easier for you to contract infections, including pneumonia and tuberculosis.
- You Face Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated Charges
Being arrested for one of these offenses should be a big wake-up call. Once the police are involved, it’s difficult to continue to deny you have an issue with alcohol or drugs.
There are a number of costs associated with a drunk driving conviction. Attorney’s fees if you have to go to trial are one expense. You may be required to pay a fee for towing your car or impounding it, court costs or bail fees. The court may order you to attend a mandatory drunk driving education program at a cost of $1,500.00-$2,500.00.
You will lose your driving privileges once you are charged. In order to have your driver’s license reinstated, you will have to pay a reinstatement fee. In the meantime, you will need to find an alternate means of getting to work or school. If you need a vehicle for your job, you may find yourself out of work. If you are convicted, you could be looking at going to jail, which means you will be incurring an economic loss in any event.
- You Are the Subject of an Intervention
An intervention is a face-to-face meeting between family members, friends and the person who is having an issue with drugs or alcohol. Since people with substance abuse issues are often in denial about the seriousness of the situation, they are often not prepared to seek treatment or say they will go to treatment “when they are ready.”
Some people simply don’t realize the full impact their behavior connected to drinking or drug use is having on the people closest to them. The addiction puts up a type of shield that blinds them to it.
The intervention is led by a drug interventionist who meets with the family in advance and guides them through the process. The goal of the meeting is to have the family members share their thoughts and feelings with their loved one who is living with an addiction. They explain they are no longer prepared to support his or her addiction any longer. However, they will do everything they can to help them get better.
What does this mean if your family and friends perform an intervention on you? You have the choice to continue in your current lifestyle and continue to use drugs or drink, or go to rehab and get treatment. If you choose not to accept help, your family members will tell you what the consequences of that choice will be. They may include some or all of the following.
Your family will no longer be:
- Giving you money
- Allowing you to stay in their home
- Buying you food or groceries
- Paying your bills
- Paying your rent
- Making excuses to your employer when you can’t go to work
- Picking you up or driving you where you want to go
- Paying for an attorney for you
- Bailing you out of jail
- You Have Tried Unsuccessfully on Your Own to Stop Using
The inability to stop using drugs or alcohol, even in the face of negative consequences, is another one of the probable signs of addiction. It is possible for someone to stop using their drug of choice and stay sober, and going to rehab is the most effective way to do it.
Get the Help You Need at 12 Keys
Addiction is an illness that requires professional treatment, especially if you face a situation where you need immediate help. If you have recognized one or more of these signs you need to go to rehab today, 12 Keys Rehab is here to help. Whether you are looking for a residential treatment program for drug or alcohol addiction, or a have dual diagnosis, we can offer an individualized treatment plan that can start you on the road to a more positive future in recovery.
The only thing you need to start is the willingness to make a positive change. Call us today to learn more about our recovery programs and how we can help you.