Some people with alcohol and substance use issues don't know that they have a problem. They have glasses of wine with their dinner or use cannabis to relax their nerves before a college exam. Others will say they vape out of boredom or use drugs to improve their mood.
To the casual eye, the examples above don't sound like a big deal. After all, it is common for people to use alcoholic beverages to unwind. It seems okay to use cannabis because you like how it feels, and it's something to do with friends.
And because you do these things, it doesn't mean you have a problem and need to speak with a therapist or engage in mental health counseling.
Further, substance abuse can be defined as "a pattern of drug use that leads to significant problems such as failure to attend work or school, driving a vehicle while intoxicated."
This is the difference between substance use and abuse – the drug use negatively impacts a person's life. The person continues to use drugs when it causes them problems. Also, they've made attempts to stop but couldn't.
So how do you know you may have a problem? Let's take a look at five of the most common signs of having a substance abuse problem.
1) Your parents, loved ones, or friends have expressed concerns about your drug use. For instance, your loved one has told you, "you drink too much." or "you should stop using"
2) You spend a lot of time thinking about using drugs and how good you'll feel afterward.
The person will fantasize about using substances at work, home, or school. They'll think about who to text or call to get the drugs and where they have to go.
Some say the process of obtaining alcohol, cannabis, or percocet is exciting, and it turns into an adventure and gives them something to look forward to.
3) You've developed a tolerance to the drug. An example of this would be drinking a glass of wine after work to relax, which progresses to a bottle of wine to achieve the same effect.
4) The person ignores their daily responsibilities. For example, you don't go to work because you are hungover. Some say they've lost jobs due to being under the influence of alcohol and other substances at work. You skip school to use marijuana or you don't complete your homework because you are high.
5) When you are not using drugs, you experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, poor sleep, weight loss, headaches, nausea, and more.
The withdrawal symptoms may influence the person to use their drug of choice or another drug to get rid of their symptoms.
For example, the person withdrawing from Perocet may experience cold sweats, vomiting, and anxiety. They may use perocet or another drug to reduce their withdrawal symptoms.
You are having a hard time admitting you have a problem. Usually, people have good reasons not to admit to themselves or others that they have a problem. Some reasons for doing this include substance abuse stigmas and labels and the fear of not knowing how to cope with mental health challenges without using drugs.
If you think you have a problem, many resources are available, such as 12-step programs and detox services, or you can talk to a therapist near you about coping skills.
Please email me at email@example.com if you have concerns about your mental health and substance use.