Small lapses of judgment can snowball into life-altering problems. Alcoholism and drug addiction are perfect examples of this stealth dynamic in action, and the subtle nature of the decline they precipitate makes it hard for people with substance abuse disorders to accurately perceive what is happening.
Choosing to drink or take drugs will not automatically lead to addiction. But addiction almost always leads to denial and rationalization, and that is as much a part of this disease as the physical dependency that defines it.
Your willingness to consider the possibility you might have a substance abuse disorder is a positive sign. But unless you understand how addiction distorts your perception you may never be able to face the truth about your plight.
The natural tendency of drug addicts and alcoholics who reflect on their substance abuse is to avoid a full and honest self-appraisal, leading them to underestimate how far down the rabbit hole of dependency they’ve actually fallen.
The best way to ensure your process of self-analysis stays on track is to educate yourself about the symptoms of alcoholism and drug addiction. Not just the physical symptoms but the emotional and psychological mind tricks substance abuse problems play, which can make it difficult to detect addiction from a first-person perspective.
Here are some common warning signs that might indicate your drug or alcohol habit has gotten out of control:
- You need to drink more or take larger quantities of drugs to get the same effects.
- You drink or take drugs every day, or always return to alcohol or drugs again after brief periods of sobriety.
- You’ve started telling “little white lies” to the people you love, most of which revolve around your drinking or drugging.
- Guilt and shame have become your constant companions, even though you’re not always sure what you’re feeling guilty or ashamed about.
- In conversations about your behavior you frequently find yourself on the defensive (even in instances where your substance abuse isn’t brought up during the discussion).
- You’ve gotten into the habit of using drugs or alcohol for mood alteration or enhancement (you can’t relax, have fun or feel comfortable in social situations without it, to give some examples).
- You’re experiencing more of the troubling mood swings that helped push you toward drugs or alcohol in the first place.
- Your physical health has started to decline.
- Your family and friends are worried and they’ve been telling you about it.
- The real-life consequences of your drinking and drug use have become impossible to ignore (financial troubles, relationship problems, declining performance on the job, etc.).
- Your internal dialogues are loaded with rationalizations, as you’ve begun making just as many excuses to yourself as you’ve been making to others.
Generally speaking, the more of these symptoms you manifest the worse your substance abuse problem is likely to be.
With Eyes Wide Open, There is Hope
Alcoholism and drug abuse affect the mind, body and spirit. They sneak up on you and catch you by surprise, changing your entire life day-by-day until their ravages are undeniable. You have to notice what drugs or alcohol are doing to your life before you can do anything about them, and that means learning to recognize the warning signs of addiction while there is still time to make a change.
Follow our blog at A Calming Tide for more valuable information about substance abuse and strategies to overcome it.