Who is really in control?
We all crave the sensation of being “in control” of our lives. Even when our actions appear hazardous or counterproductive, we strive to convince ourselves, and those around us, that there’s no issue at hand. But are we kidding ourselves?
Addiction, like a stealthy intruder, operates silently and slowly. It robs us of our time, financial stability, family bonds, and, in some cases, life itself. Recovery from any addiction is feasible, but it commences with acknowledging the subtle indicators of a problem. Many of these signs can easily be pushed aside or attributed to unrelated or invented circumstances when confronted by others. However, the initial stride toward reclaiming genuine control over addiction necessitates a sobering self-examination in the mirror of our lives.
1. Neglecting Responsibilities and Shifting Priorities
Individuals grappling with substance use disorder or any behavioral addiction will inevitably reach a juncture where the substance or habit ascends to the paramount position on their priority list. This ascent occurs irrespective of any ensuing consequences, even when the individual cannot sustain their addiction, whether financially or otherwise. The compelling urgency of the addiction invariably takes precedence over all else.
2. Negative Consequences Cease to be a Deterrent
You might observe adverse effects but opt to disregard them. Overindulgence in opioid painkillers could lead to digestive troubles. Nosebleeds stemming from cocaine usage and bruising resulting from heroin injections become aspects to conceal or rationalize. Even being pulled over and apprehended for driving under the influence might not be sufficient to persuade someone to address their alcohol-related issues.
These are all signals that are simple to brush aside in the present moment. Nonetheless, when you step back and examine the broader context, they constitute compelling evidence of an issue that merits your attention.
3. Lying and Avoiding People or Activities
Those with a substance use disorder might find themselves taking steps to distance themselves from those who don’t partake or don’t approve. They might rationalize this by convincing themselves their friends and family wouldn’t understand or would pass judgment. But when it comes to cancelling a lunch date with a friend merely because the venue doesn’t serve alcohol, it could indicate that that alcohol is beginning to exert undue influence.
This type of behavior, denial of an issue, secret use and fabricating lies to cover the extent of consumption are all clear indicators that the problem might be more substantial than you’re willing to acknowledge.
4. Taking Risks to Support a Habit
For most, self-preservation is a basic instinct. But that instinct can become less and less important when dealing with a subtance use disorder. Even those known for their responsibility may, at times, resort to perilous actions and situations to sustain their addiction.
This might entail actions such as pilfering from friends, associating with hazardous individuals in risky environments to satisfy their cravings, or even risking legal trouble. These actions serve as substantial warning signs. They not only endanger one’s life but also heighten the risk of contracting diseases through the use of hazardous methods just to achieve a high.
5. Increased Tolerance and Withdrawal Symptoms
Tolerance is your body adapting to a substance so that you require increasingly higher amounts of that substance to attain the same desired effect. In addition to developing tolerance, you might also find it challenging to cease your engagement once initiated, whether it involves alcohol consumption, exercise, gambling, overeating, or substance use.
When your body has adjusted to a specific level of your habit or substance and doesn’t receive that quantity, you may encounter withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can encompass a range of unpleasant sensations resulting from the unfulfilled addiction. They might manifest as episodes of perspiration, anxiety, nausea and vomiting, tremors, hallucinations, restlessness, or a combination thereof.
The precise form and intensity of withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the specific substance or habit and the unique physiological makeup of each individual. Recovery healthcare professionals possess the expertise to address these symptoms and guide individuals battling substance use disorder through a safe detoxification process tailored to their specific needs.
6. A Loss of Relationships
Individuals grappling with substance use disorder may begin to observe cracks of strains in their interpersonal relationships. While it’s easy to blame others, more often than not, it’s the dominating substance or habit that’s at the root of the issue.
You might find yourself lashing out against those closest to you, especially when someone attempts to address the addiction. Complaints from colleagues, supervisors, educators, or peers may have surfaced concerning your altered demeanor, diminished accountability, and recurring problems. Your addiction-related actions may have eroded trust within your personal relationships.
Friends, family members, and your significant other are likely enduring the consequences of your prioritization of the habit over them. Your behavior and disinterest in anything beyond your addiction can dismantle bonds that once seemed unbreakable.
If you believe that the people in your life deserve the best version of you, this unmistakably signals the need to seek professional assistance for substance use disorder and addiction therapy.
Addiction Isn’t Just Substances
In a 2016 study, it was determined by the US Surgeon General that one out of every seven Americans will face substance addiction. That means at some point in their lives, these people will become dependent or addicted to using a substance. This doesn’t include the people who can become addicted to habits or otherwise-normal things such as food, exercise, or using social media.
An addiction doesn’t have to be something illegal or unhealthy to be detrimental. Anything that is overused can cause problems with your health, your mental state, and even your relationships.