How to Know if You Need Help
Your addiction can be mild, moderate or severe. No matter your diagnosis, getting treatment is important for recovery.
Is My Addiction Bad Enough?
When it comes to drug and alcohol addiction, it’s difficult to be objective and admit you have a problem. But once you do, you’re already on the path to recovery.
The next step is to decide how to get sober.
This can be confusing if you’re questioning whether your addiction is severe enough to require rehab.
According to SAMHSA’s 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only 10 percent of those struggling with substance dependence or abuse received treatment.
Many people decide to forego treatment because they haven’t hit rock bottom or they simply don’t think their problem is bad enough. The truth of the matter is: if you’re questioning whether or not you need help getting sober, you likely do. This is especially true if you think you need treatment for addiction to heroin or other opioids.
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Understanding the Severity of Your Addiction
If your life and relationships are being negatively affected by your substance use, you probably have an addiction. Addiction is diagnosed on a spectrum. The criteria for addiction can help you determine if your addiction is mild, moderate or severe. There is a total of eleven criteria, including:
- Lack of control
- Desire to quit but unable
- Spending a lot of time trying to get the substance
- Lack of responsibility
- Problems with relationships
- Loss of interest
- Dangerous use
- Worsening situations
The severity is determined by how many criteria you meet. For example, if two to three of the criteria apply to you, you would have a mild substance use disorder. But even if you have a mild diagnosis, you should still seek help to get sober.
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What to Do if Your Friends Don’t Acknowledge Your Addiction
You think you have an addiction, but your friends are telling you, “You’re fine! You don’t have a problem.” In this situation, you should ask yourself:
Do these friends also use drugs or alcohol?
If this is the case, they may be saying this to avoid losing a friend to party with. Oftentimes, these people have a problem themselves, only they don’t realize or want to admit it. If they’re a true friend, they’ll support your decision to get sober because it’s what’s best for you.
Have you been hiding your substance use from them?
If you’ve concealed this part of your life from them, they may not even be aware of the issue. This is probably the first time they’re hearing about it and can’t imagine how it could be true. They may say, “I’m your friend! How could I not know? You’re probably overreacting.” Take this as an opportunity to be open and honest with them about your addiction. You’ll need their friendship and support during your recovery.
Would you feel comfortable telling them they have a problem?
Maybe you don’t have the kind of friendship that allows for that kind of honesty. They may even be worried about ruining your relationship if they acknowledge the issue, especially if the relationship has been rocky in the past.
Unless your friend is qualified to give you a diagnosis, it’s best to have a doctor or mental health professional analyze the situation objectively.
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Your Addiction Can Get Worse
Because addiction is measured on a spectrum, it’s true that a mild diagnosis may not be as bad as a severe one. It’s easy to say, “I could be worse.”
It’s important to remember that addiction is a progressive disease, meaning it will get worse. If you’re only a mild case right now, it will likely become moderate or severe in the future.
Addiction is a chronic disease, much like asthma, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and many others. If you were diagnosed with stage 1 cancer, would you not seek some form of treatment to prevent it from getting worse?
You don’t have to be at rock bottom to need treatment. Get help before it gets out of hand. If you are at rock bottom or have a severe diagnosis, it’s never too late to get the help you need.
Hiding Your Addiction Behind A Successful Career
If you keep up with your job, fulfill your family duties and maintain friendships while also having a drug or alcohol addiction, you’re known as a high-functioning addict. These types of addicts maintain a level of success professionally and battle their addiction behind the scenes. Essentially, you’re living a double life.
One of the biggest issues high-functioning addicts face is denial. You feel like you’re in control because your life remains pretty normal by all appearances. However, your addiction is likely worse than you know.
Eventually, alcohol and drug use will catch up to a high-functioning addict.
Some people can struggle with addiction for years before the facade begins to fall apart. For others, it can take a life-changing event, like getting a DUI or an accidental overdose, to force them to address the issue. Instead of waiting for one of these life-changing events to happen to you, it’s better to get help as soon as possible.
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Rehab Is Your Best Chance
If you have an addiction and want to get sober, treatment is your best option. Beating an addiction to drugs or alcohol requires not only eliminating the physical dependence but also addressing the behavioral issues. Simply quitting cold turkey will not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Recovery from addiction involves changing the way you think, feel and behave. It’s difficult to address the psychological side of addiction without help from a professional.
To eliminate the physical dependence, you’ll need to detox or eliminate the drugs or alcohol from your system. Medically assisted detox is much safer than trying to detox on your own. If you detox in a medical environment, you’ll have professionals there to help with any withdrawal symptoms, which can be life-threatening in some cases. Not all rehabs offer medically assisted detox, but it’s important to find one that does if you’re physically dependent on the substance.
Addiction is a lifelong disease. Going through the treatment process will teach you to beat it time and time again. You will also gain a support network to help you in the battle for years to come. Getting treatment really is your best chance at a successful recovery.
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