Addiction can take many forms. The most common addictions are substance abuse and repetitive, damaging behaviors. Substance abuse is a dependence on alcohol, narcotics, and/or prescription drugs. Problem gambling is a repetitive behavior which leads one to spending money on lottery tickets, video lottery terminals, slot machines, and other betting schemes. Dependences canresult in serious health risks, legal and financial problems, as well as family disturbance.
There is a difference between a habit and an addiction. Habits shape our personalities and enrich our lives, but when they become obsessive and harmful, they turn into addictions. When these addictions hurt us, and those we love, we need to get help to break the addiction and restore health andhappiness.
How can I tell if I'm addicted? I …
spend money my family or I are counting on to gamble or buy drugs and/or alcohol
break promises to spend time with loved ones, or hurt them in other ways, so I can feed my addiction
suffer from drug or alcohol consumption when my losses increase
am unhappy because I can't stop my addiction
cannot reach my goals
When should I seek help? Once I …have tried, but can't change my ways
have been able to change my behavior, but I am still unhappy and something is missing
am wondering if I need help - now may be a good time to get it
People use alcohol and other drugs for many reasons. Some use these substances to help them to relax, to feel more lively, to feel less inhibited or to feel pleasure. Some find the effects of substances make itseem easier to cope with problems. Some use substances for religious reasons or to fit in with the crowd. Others may be curious about the effects of a specific drug.
No one plans to become addicted. People may think that they can handle their substance use and that they only use when they want to. But when they want to change the way they use, they may find it’s not that simple.
Because substanceuse is common, it’s important to be able to see when a person’s use puts him or her at risk of developing a problem.
Jessie loves going out after work with her friends. Her job is stressful, and having a few drinks with her friends helps her to unwind and relax. Lately, Jessie’s regular “after-work drink” has turned into a whole evening of drinking. She often misses dinner and doesn’t get homeuntil late. A couple of times Jessie hasn’t remembered how she got home the night before, and she’s been late for work. Her manager has commented that she seems tired and distracted, and wonders if anything is wrong.
This example shows how substance use problems can develop slowly, and how it can be easy to overlook some early warning signs that a person’s substance use is becoming a problem.Next, we will look at some things that can signal when a person’s substance use might be a problem.
When is substance use a problem?
Two important signs that a person’s substance use is risky, or is already a problem, are harmful consequences and loss of control.
The harms of substance use can range from mild (e.g., feeling hungover, being late for work) to severe (e.g.,homelessness, disease). While each time a person uses a substance may seem to have little impact, the harmful consequences can build up over time. If a person continues to use substances despite the harmful consequences, he or she may have a substance use problem.
The harms of substance use can affect every aspect of a person’s life. Some examples are:
* injuries while under the influence
*feelings of anxiety, irritability or depression
* trouble thinking clearly
* problems with relationships
* spending money on substances rather than on food, rent or other essentials
* legal problems related to substance use
* loss of hope, feelings of emptiness.
The harms of substance use can also extend to the person’s family, friends, co-workers and even...