Addressing one’s relationship with addictive substances is a personal matter. Each individual will have their own ideas and expectations surrounding the use of addictive substances. However, there is a fine line between substance use and substance use disorder (SUD). Determining when the use of drugs or alcohol becomes abuse or addiction varies from person to person.
There is no completely safe way to engage with addictive substances. Asking the right questions and evaluating one’s mentality surrounding one’s use is more revealing about one’s relationship than counting the number of drinks or quantity of drugs used.
Finding Your Relationship With Addictive Substances
It is common to gauge one’s relationship with drugs or alcohol by comparing oneself to others, especially family or coworkers. Normalizing one’s use of drugs because it is an accepted part of a particular culture or assuming that one’s drinking habits cannot be destructive because others may use them at more intense frequencies is both common and dangerous. Determining one’s own attitudes around the use of these substances regardless of surrounding people or cultures is necessary for identifying when substance use may be developing into addiction.
Each individual will have their own reasons, expectations, tolerance, ramifications, and relationship with using addictive substances. Genetic components can also impact one’s development of SUD. Comparing oneself to others ignores these important personal factors.
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Look Past Numbers
Counting drinks or how frequently one engages with drugs is a common approach to determining one’s overall relationship with addictive substances. However, basing one’s relationship solely on empirical values can leave out important contexts surrounding the use of addictive substances.
While some forms of SUD—such as binge drinking—have particular amounts tied to their definition, one does not have to be fully inebriated or use a certain amount of opioids per day to suffer from SUD. Rather than assigning a number to one’s use with a binary “safe” versus “unsafe” threshold, it is more important to look at the attitudes and expectations surrounding one’s use.
Asking Pertinent Questions
Knowing the right questions to ask is crucial for determining when one’s use of addictive substances may be developing into an addiction that requires professional aid. Some of the most pertinent questions to ask oneself include:
- Do you ever use more than you intended?
- Have you ever suffered negative consequences of drug or alcohol use—whether injury, social ramifications, legal trouble, etc—and continued to use?
- Did previous attempts to decrease your usage in the past prove unsuccessful?
- Have you ever eschewed regular responsibilities as a result of drugs or alcohol?
- Do you plan your days around when you will have access to drugs or alcohol?
- Are addictive substances necessary to “wind down” after a stressful day?
- Do you feel addictive substances are necessary to celebrate a good day?
- Have you ever used drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with expected stresses, even before they happen?
- Do you feel irritable or sad when not engaging with drugs or alcohol?
- Has the use of addictive substances ever affected your workplace or scholastic attendance or performance, either skipping these obligations to use addictive substances or as a result of a hangover?
These questions address the reasons behind one’s use of addictive substances, rather than measuring one’s use based on a predetermined number, and encourage each person to address the personal impact of their use in daily life.
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The Various Forms of Addiction
There can be any number of images that spring to mind when words like “addiction” are brought up. However, there is much more than a single form of addiction. While some may engage in binge drinking with overt signs of use that can leave an individual inebriated, others may engage with drugs or alcohol on a less intense but more consistent basis, even if they do not become fully debilitated by their use.
Sneaking sips of alcohol with breakfast or engaging with drugs on a lunch break can be incredibly damaging to one’s mind and body. Others may only engage with addictive substances on occasion, but find it difficult to stop once they begin using, resulting in dangerous blackouts and the potential for overdose. Each of these unique relationships with addictive substances can be classified as “addiction.”
Likewise, there is no single demographic that is prone to SUD. People of any age, sex, gender, or financial status can develop an addiction for a myriad of reasons. Nobody is immune to the disease, and addiction can stem from exposure to alcohol over time or suffering from a traumatic injury and developing an addiction to prescription opioids. Asking oneself the most pertinent questions and discussing one’s relationship with trained professionals is crucial for making the most informed decision about when to consider professional recovery for substance use, abuse, or addiction.
When your use of addictive substances begins impacting your daily life, responsibilities, or relationships, it is time to take a close look at your relationship with these destructive substances. At Hawaii Island Recovery, a leading center for alcohol and drug treatment in Hawaii, we understand that there is never a one-size-fits-all approach to a truly transformative recovery experience. We pride ourselves on our ability to customize your recovery journey, listening to your needs and helping you discover your best practices for a healthy and sober future. From individual and group therapy to profound cultural experiences and a transformative spiritual environment, we are committed to helping you find balance while creating a new, sober lifestyle. For more information on our effective alcohol treatment programs, drug treatment programs, or for information on our drug and alcohol inpatient treatment centers, call to speak to us today at (866) 390-5070.