This is the most difficult question many people will ever contemplate. It’s never easy for a person to make the unflinchingly honest life assessment that he or she may be addicted to drugs or alcohol.

However, it can be the most wonderful, freeing moment that they ever experience, for it signals the start of a new way of life. Acknowledging the possibility of a problem is the first step on the road to recovery from the prison of drug and alcohol abuse.

Non-Addicts Rarely Ask Themselves This Question

People don’t take their car to a repair shop when it’s running just fine; similarly, those who don’t need help for drug and alcohol abuse are not likely to start looking for a drug recovery center. Only those who are in the midst of addiction begin to think that they might need to seek a drug treatment center.

To alleviate any uncertainty, there are certain physical warning signs, behavioral changes and personality changes which are good indications that it might be time to seek help and contact a drug and alcohol rehab center. Some symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse–and alcohol is a drug, just like any other–are very obvious, such as becoming physically ill after ceasing the intake of alcohol or drugs.

When that happens, all doubt has been removed. This is a dangerous, even life-threatening situation, when the later stages of drug and alcohol abuse are unquestionably present. Any person at this stage should seek out a treatment center right away.

Unfortunately, addiction is an insidious and baffling problem, and many of the signs that a person might need help for drug and alcohol abuse aren’t obvious, particularly to the person mired in their own addiction. Noted Harvard addiction specialist Lance M. Dodes, MD, describes the peculiar blind spots which are so often present in addicts and alcoholics:

In one example a man…found himself drinking heavily and actually ruining his chances to accomplish what he wanted. He…had no idea why he drank; indeed, he thought that understanding his drinking was finding ‘excuses’.

If a person doesn’t even know why they use, how can they spot the symptoms of drug abuse? Even those closest to the addict might not know there is a problem, due to the ability of some people to hide their addictive habits.

How to Recognize the Behavioral and Personality Changes Associated With Drug and Alcohol Addiction

There are many online questionnaires that are helpful to determine if a person is exhibiting the symptoms of drug abuse, but in most cases, these address the more obvious red flags. Questions on a self-assessment quiz may include:

  • Do you experience blackouts while on drugs or alcohol?
  • Have you ever been arrested due to your drug or alcohol abuse?
  • Do you use every day, or have a hard time going a week without using?

Even one “yes” answer to any of these questions is a clear sign that a person may need help for drug abuse. But what about the crafty addict who effectively hides their problem, even from themselves? There is no shortage of people who are in denial due to their ability to manufacture a normal outward appearance.

Here are a few more subtle cues, which could indicate the need for a drug abuse prevention program:

  • Has there been a drop-off in productivity at work or school?
  • Has there been avoidance of family or professional commitments?
  • Would you feel shame if people knew about the amount and frequency with which you use drugs?
  • Do you have one personality that you show the “real world”, and another that comes out while using?
  • Do you hide your drugs or alcohol?
  • Have you vowed to stop, only to find it difficult to do so for any extended period?

This is by no means a comprehensive picture of a person who might benefit from a program of drug abuse prevention. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence estimates that 17.6 million people in the United States suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence, and there is no “one size fits all” representation for all of them. Addicts are often complex, highly intelligent people who don’t fit cookie-cutter descriptions.

However, if the information here suggests that help for drug abuse is needed–for you or someone you love–don’t hesitate to contact Cornerstone Recovery Center, a substance abuse treatment center located in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Do it now. A new, amazing life is waiting.

From time to time, Cornerstone will share inspiring stories from and by people with intimate knowledge of the disease of drug addiction. Evan R. is a recovered addict who has personal experience with the signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug abuse. He has been clean and sober for 10 years. 

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