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How Do I Know if I’m an Addict?

If you believe you may be addicted to drugs or alcohol, you can look for specific signs. Asking yourself the following questions about your substance use can help you determine if you have a substance use disorder.
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Is your substance use becoming a concern to you or your loved ones? Do you face negative consequences stemming from your substance use? Are relationships suffering with people important to you? Are you having trouble completing responsibilities required by your job or school? If you are experiencing any of these difficulties as a result of your substance use, you may have an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Substance addiction is a chronic brain disease that affects individuals of every race, age group, nationality and socioeconomic background. Reflecting on your own substance use habits is vital to determining if you are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Identifying your addiction is the first step to healthy, substance-free living.


Robert Fishman of Advanced Recovery Systems explains how he knew he had an addiction and why he needed to seek treatment.

Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Substance Use

There are signs that can help you determine if you are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Problems with relationships, your job or school, and even legal issues stemming from substance use can indicate that you have an addiction. If your life has been affected by substance abuse in the following ways, you may have an addiction:

Strained Relationships

Regularly, the relationships of those with drug or alcohol addictions suffer as a result of their substance abuse. You may find yourself no longer associating with friends or family who do not use drugs or alcohol or who do not approve of your substance use. Using substances to fit in with a certain group is also a common trait of individuals with addictions. Additionally, lying to friends and family about your substance use due to shame or embarrassment indicates you may have an addiction.

Work or School Performance Suffering

Individuals with drug and alcohol addictions often find it difficult to complete school or work responsibilities. Those struggling with addictions may have issues keeping a job or may find themselves in trouble at school, resulting in suspension or expulsion. If substance abuse has affected your work or school habits and hindered your performance at either, addiction may be the cause.

Social and Health Consequences

Addiction to drugs or alcohol often leaves individuals unable to take care of themselves and can lead to a number of health issues. Answering yes to any of these questions can signal that you have a substance addiction.

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Crime and Deviant Behavior

Addiction often drives reasonable individuals to uncharacteristic behavior and, in many cases, even crime. Faking a health condition to obtain prescription drugs, stealing from friends or family, and taking unknown substances are common among individuals struggling with addiction. If you find yourself acting out of character, committing crimes or doing things that hurt loved ones to satisfy your substance use habits, you likely have an addiction.

Substance Abuse Patterns

The frequency and amount of substances you use play a significant role in developing an addiction. Using substances daily and by yourself is a strong indicator you may have a substance addiction. Relying on substances as part of your daily routine, such as when you fall asleep or wake up in the morning, may also signal an addiction.

Cravings, Self-Medication and Physical Dependence

Many people with addictions are consumed by the disease, and it takes over their lives. An addicted person may obsess about using substances when sober, using drugs or alcohol to treat another condition or escape from troubling emotions or thoughts. Those with substance use disorders may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when sober.

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Psychological dependency is also common among those with addictions. People with psychological dependence use drugs or alcohol to stimulate the brain’s pleasure center.

One of the most common signs of addiction is a compulsive desire to use substances, crowding out rational and responsible thinking. If you are unable to control your substance use or experience intense drug or alcohol cravings, you may have a substance use disorder.

What Should I Do if I Have an Addiction to Drugs or Alcohol?

Recognizing that you have a substance addiction is the most critical step in reaching recovery. Answering yes to some or all of the questions above could indicate that you have a substance abuse problem. If you identify any similar patterns to those above in your own habits, treatment for drug or alcohol addiction may be the right course for you.

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