Whether it’s a little retail therapy or a glass of wine after a long day, most people have something they turn to when they want to unwind. After all, we all have our vices, don’t we? At what point does a harmless habit become a real problem? Many people eventually ask themselves, “am I an addict?”
If you find yourself asking these questions and wondering if your own habits are normal, you’re not alone – but you are a step ahead just for asking the question! Of course, you might not be an addict at all. Many people can and do enjoy alcohol and other drugs in moderation with no ill effects, but addiction is more common than you’d think. In fact, an estimated 24.6 million people in the United States suffer from mild to severe addiction issues! If you think you might be one of them, consider these five questions carefully – your answers might match up with several well-known symptoms of addiction.
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You’re probably not going to brag to your boss about the crazy party you went to last weekend. However, you may find yourself downplaying just how often you’re drinking or where your money is going when concerned friends and family members ask how you’re doing. If you feel the need to hide something, it’s a good idea to stop and consider why you might be doing so. Secrecy is one of the first symptoms of addiction that others will notice. A big reason people first as themselves “am I an addict” derives from their need to hide the behavior from loved ones. If you feel like you need to hide your habit and can’t stop, you may be an addict.
Most of us have had a hangover at least once in our life. For many people, that’s the end of it; they never drink that much again. For an addict, the choice isn’t that easy. If you keep doing something even though it’s causing negative consequences like legal issues, problems with friends and family, or poor work performance, you may want to ask yourself why you feel it’s worth the risk.
Am I an addict if I feel anxious or uncomfortable in places where a habit can’t be done? It’s possible. Withdrawal symptoms are a well-known part of addiction, but they aren’t always strictly physical. Most addicts are familiar with the anxiety that comes along when their supply is running low. You might find yourself creating a stash “in case of emergencies” or avoiding social situations where you won’t be able to use altogether. For example, a long-term smoker might avoid traveling by plane because you can’t smoke in airports. Your habit should never stop you from living life to the fullest.
One reason people ask themselves “am I an addict” is due to continuing a habit even though finances are tight. Any habit can become expensive quickly, but some are worse than others. A sure sign of addiction is when your habit starts to take financial priority over necessities like food, rent, and childcare. If you’ve ever borrowed or stolen to support your habit, it’s time to ask for help.
It’s very hard to admit when you’ve lost control. Many addicts quit multiple times before finally breaking free for good. Ask yourself honestly – could you stop cold turkey for 6 months? What about for 1 year? Could you cut back significantly without wanting more? If you’re not sure, try experimenting with it. Am I an addict if I just can’t seem to quit, even though I want to? This is one of the biggest indicators of addiction. How long can you go without engaging in addictive behavior? How do you feel when you have a craving? How does it affect your decisions during the day?
If you think you might suffer from addiction after considering these questions, don’t panic. There’s still plenty of time to get things back on track, and you have nothing to lose by getting sober. Consider reaching out to friends, family, or a health care professional for advice and guidance while you take your first steps toward sobriety, and ultimately, to freedom.
VIDEO: Am I an addict? How I diagnosed myself with an addiction problem