Am I an Addict?
Asking yourself “Am I an Addict?” is often the most important step in recovery. This is because addiction takes over your brain. The disease tells you that you need to use substances. It tells you that life without using substances is painful. It does this to protect itself. The only way for someone to learn if they are an addict is to ask themselves. By asking this question, it shows willingness to break through the lies addiction is telling you. If you’ve reached this point, you’re ready to begin healing. Here’s some ways to know if you are an addict.
Do You Have Addiction
Addiction is the name that was given to Substance Use Disorder (SUD). SUD is a disorder of the brain. It is an illness. This makes it no different from cancer or diabetes. These are the symptoms:
- An inability to stop using a drug.
- Physical and mental dependence on a drug.
- Intense cravings for the drug whenever use is stopped.
- Withdrawal symptoms when you cannot get enough of the drug.
- Spending large amounts of time using the drug.
- Continuing to use the drug even when it creates problems.
- Thinking about the drug often.
- Having urges to use the drug so intense they block out other thoughts.
- Doing things against your own morals – such as lying and stealing – in order to obtain the drug.
- Being unable to meet responsibilities because you are using the drug.
Any one of these could mean you have SUD. Odds are good that if you are asking yourself “Am I an addict?” the answer is almost certainly “yes.” People who do not have SUD don’t worry about addiction. But, if you still aren’t sure, there’s a few steps you can take to find out.
Am I an Addict? Here’s How to Tell
It’s possible you aren’t sure if you have SUD. Maybe the symptoms listed above describe you. Maybe they don’t. Many people with SUD don’t really have a lot of the signs. Sometimes they don’t recognize when they do. Since addiction centers in the brain, it can use the brain against itself so that it’s impossible to know if you have it. The mind is very powerful. When it’s been taken over by a disease, that power is then used by the disease. If you aren’t sure if you have SUD, there’s a simple experiment you can perform to find out. It’s a good chance to learn more about yourself. This experiment uses 7 steps. These are:
- Consult with a doctor about stopping your substance use.
- Develop a plan for quitting.
- Quit using the drug.
- See if you experience withdrawal symptoms.
- Write down your thoughts and feelings. Include how often you think about using the drug.
- Continue this process for a minimum of 30 days.
- Discuss with the people closest to you if they’ve noticed a change in you.
Though this seems easy, it usually isn’t. There’s a right way and a wrong way to quit using a drug. Here’s how to perform each step safely:
Consult with a Doctor
The first step is very important. Quitting a drug is dangerous. It can make you sick. You may also experience extreme pain. Quitting a drug can even be fatal. Before you stop you need to ensure you do it safely. This means talking to your doctor. You need to be completely honest about how often you use the drug and how much you use. They will be able to suggest the safest way to stop. Listen to their advice.
Develop a Plan for Quitting
You and your doctor should have come up with a safe way for you to quit. But you also should prepare yourself. Quitting can have many consequences that you can’t foresee. Therefore it’s important to create a healthy environment to make quitting easier. Here’s some suggestions to help you prepare to quit:
- Consider taking time off work or school. This reduces stress in your life.
- Talk to the people in your life about what you are doing. Warn them you are trying to quit. You could have mood swings or experience emotions you’ve been repressing. If they know ahead of time what you’re doing, they’re better equipped to help you deal with any problems that arise.
- Create a safe, healthy space to quit. This means removing any drugs or alcohol from your home. Reducing temptations can make quitting easier.
- Avoid places where you typically use your drug. This includes your home. If you frequently drank or used at home, plan to spend more time in healthy places away from your house.
- Plan pleasant activities to stay occupied. By doing pleasurable things you can distract yourself from any thoughts of using.
The more complete your plan, the better your chance of success.
Set an exact day and time to stop. Tell the people around you when that time is. SUD can convince you to delay your quitting. Be clear on exactly when you intend to stop so that you’re ready.
See if you Experience Withdrawal
One of the major signs of SUD is withdrawal. If you have withdrawal, you’re probably an addict. Since withdrawal is different for every drug, you’ll need to know what symptoms to expect. Your doctor can help with this. The most common are:
- High Blood Pressure
- Feeling tired or drained
You may have any or all of these. The risks of withdrawal are the reason you need a doctor’s help.
Write Down Thoughts and Feelings
Once your mind is clear of the drug, it’s time to see what you think and feel. The more you write, the more you’ll understand about what’s going on in your mind. Since SUD uses your brain against you, this is very important. The point is to give you more information about your relationship with the drug. You might be very surprised to find out how much you think about using. This writing is all about you, so be totally, brutally honest.
Continue for 30 Days
The longer you’re sober the clearer your thinking is going to be. 30 days is the bare minimum. This will give you a full month to understand your relationship to the drug you quit. It will also give your body a chance to flush most of the toxins out. This will change how you feel. Sometimes these changes can be extreme. If you can go longer than 30 days, that’s excellent. However, if you find yourself eager to get back to using, that’s a clear sign you probably have SUD.
Talk to Others
We don’t always see our own behavior clearly. This is especially true of addicts. By asking other people what they noticed while you were sober, you can gain a better view of how you behave. You may hear some surprising things.
What to do if you are an Addict
If you’ve answered “yes” the question “Am I an addict?”, then you’ve taken a huge first step toward healing. The next step is to treat your disease. If you cannot stop using, consider a residential treatment program. If you can stop, then it’s best to do it with a Partial Hospitalization (Partial Care), Intensive Outpatient (IOP) or an Outpatient (OP) program. These programs allow you to live at home while you get assistance with managing your illness. They provide therapy as well as Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). You might want to stay at a sober living facility to help you get clean without needing full residential treatment. However you decide to get clean, we can help you do it. Reach out to us and let us guide you on the path to recovery. Life awaits!