What is addiction? That which is colloquially referred to as “addiction” is clinically known as a substance use disorder. Whether you are worried about someone dear to you, or you just want to better understand (and categorize) your own substance use habits – we have answers for you.
The following are some questions to ask in order to better understand the scope of substance use for yourself – or others – that are non-dependent on which substance is being used:
- Do you or your loved one take the substance in larger amounts or for longer than is recommended?
- Have you or your loved one tried to stop or reduce the use of the substance to no avail?
- Do you or your loved one spend copious amounts of time obtaining, using, or recovering from use of the substance?
- Do you or your loved one experience cravings and urges to use the substance?
- Does the substance interfere with you or your loved one’s ability to fulfill duties at work, home, or school?
- Do you or your loved one continue to use the substance, even when it causes strain in relationships?
- Have you or your loved one stopped being involved in important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of the use of the substance?
- Do you or your loved one repeatedly use substances, even when they are dangerous?
- Do you or your loved one continue to use, even when you know a physical or psychological problem could be caused by, or made worse by, the substance?
- Have you or your loved one needed more of the substance to get the effect you want ( because of increased tolerance)?
- Have you or your loved one developed withdrawal symptoms after stopping use of the substance (these symptoms can be relieved by taking more of the substance)?
When answering the previous questions the amount of “yes” answers yielded can allow you to gain insight into the prevalence of a substance use disorder:
- 2-3 constitutes a “mild” substance use disorder
- 4-5 can be a sign of a “moderate” substance use disorder
- 6+ verges into a “severe” substance use disorder
Please keep in mind that these questions are designed to guide self-reflection and analysis of substance use patterns – they are NOT a way to diagnose yourself or a loved one. If you feel that you or your loved one does have a substance use disorder, we encourage you to seek help from psychologist or mental health professional who specializes in this area.
Substance use disorders can be difficult to navigate alone, often all parties involved can feel powerless and unsure of how to move forward in a healthy and productive way. This is why for some people the support of AA/CA/NA groups can be extremely helpful in the recovery process. There are also support groups for those who are supporting someone who is recovering, since this in itself can also be an arduous and emotionally straining process to take on alone.
There are many paths to recovery from substance use disorder, and with diligence and support all can be effective. The important first step is seeking the help you need, don’t be afraid to reach out!