How to Honestly Appraise the Severity of Your Addiction

Posted on October 10th, 2012

Working out the extent of a problem is not simple. Countless drug users refuse treatment on the basis that they aren’t “really” addicts, and in the process they allow their use to spiral out of control. Many people only seek treatment when they hit rock bottom, they might find themselves lying in a pool of their own vomit in a dive bar, losing their job, or utterly destroying their personal relationships before they realize they need help. The reason they let it get this far is because being honest with yourself about your problem isn’t easy.

Adopting the Right Mindset

The first thing you have to do if you want to truly understand the extent of your problem is to drop any pretenses you hold. Rationalizations for your use might have been growing and gaining power since you started using, and you need to forget these in order to make an accurate assessment. Telling yourself that you only use to reward yourself after a tough day or that you’re only “experimenting” with drugs is a good way to completely ignore a problem. Discard any of these notions you’ve picked up along the way.

In order to really understand how serious your problem is, you have to temporarily ignore the emotional part of your mind. This is easier said than done, but receiving any form of criticism from anybody isn’t easy, so you have to ensure you won’t ditch a train of thought because of the potential consequences of it. You might not want to realize that you have to use every single day, otherwise you get tense and irritable, but the weight of that knowledge pales in comparison to the damage you’ll do to yourself if you don’t acknowledge it. You essentially have to become a third party, observing and analyzing your own behavior through the microscope of rationality.

Thinking About Your Use

The simplest way to start appraising your problem is to think about your relationship with your drug of choice. Think about the pattern of your drug use. How often do you use on an ordinary day, and when do you use? Do you need to take drugs to feel “normal” for the day? How much do you spend per day on drugs? How about per week? Asking yourself searching questions like this starts to paint an important picture. Remember, you need to treat this information as if it’s coming from somebody else; don’t spare your feelings, just think about the information objectively and draw what conclusions you will.

One of the most important things to think about is the degree to which your life revolves around your drug use. Do you find yourself planning your day around taking drugs? Are you unable to stick to limits you’ve set yourself for the day? When you don’t use, do you experience withdrawal symptoms? If you find yourself getting irritable, having trouble sleeping or experiencing general flu-like symptoms, you might be going through withdrawal. Taking more drugs to alleviate these symptoms is also a clear indicator of a problem, as is taking drugs instead of participating in activities you used to enjoy.

Thinking About Your Life

The other major impact of drug use is the one it has on your life outside of drugs. You might find you’ve been dodging your responsibilities, calling in sick for work, or even neglecting your children as you’ve started to use more and more. Have you been having trouble with your relationships? Even if it doesn’t seem related to drugs, it’s important to think about. The psychological impact of drugs can have wide-ranging consequences, and it could be placing your relationships under strain indirectly.

Putting it All Together

The pieces of information you’ve been gathering should be starting to form a picture. You might be faced with somebody who takes drugs every day and at every opportunity, who takes days off work to dose up to oblivion and whose closest relationships are crumbling by the day. It might not be nice to admit things like this, but if you were presented this information about somebody you’d never met or a fictional character in a book, what conclusion would you come to? Is the person a casual or experimental user, or is he or she suffering from addiction?

Remember, you don’t have to be ashamed of your actions; it could happen to anybody and it might be the result of a genetic pre-disposition to addiction. Even if it isn’t, there is no shame in having made some mistakes in your life. We are all human, and as a result we are all flawed. No matter how hard you try to get along the right way in life, it’s easy to stray off the path. It takes wisdom to realize that you’re heading in the wrong direction, and it takes strength to turn yourself around and do things right.

The fact that you’ve already sought treatment means that you acknowledge that your drug use is negatively impacting your life, but thinking honestly about the full extent of the issue can help you realize how severe the problem is. If you don’t appreciate the impact that your addiction is having on your life, relapse is much more likely. Those little rationalizations and denials we use to protect our egos will mount up and convince you that starting to use again wouldn’t be that bad. Stay objective, and you’ll see why staying in treatment is absolutely essential.

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