Am I an Addict

Do you ever use drugs for something other than a medical reason? (Y/N).  Am I an Addict?  This self-test is only the first step in our ability to provide you with answers and relief.  In addition, We Level Up offers several programs for individuals who are addicted to alcohol, Xanax, opiates, and more.

If you know the answer is yes, find a treatment center in your area & come along.  The most recent report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse [1] found that the use of substances like heroin and methamphetamine was on the rise in San Diego and surrounding areas.  However, the report fails to make the critical distinction between substance abuse and addiction.

Cocaine Addiction
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Recognizing addiction isn’t always easy, and the line between substance abuse, dependence, and addiction can seem relatively thin.  So if you’re asking yourself the question, “Am I an addict?”  It’s important to thank yourself for taking the first significant step toward recovery.  In expanding our in-person addiction treatment programs at We Level Up, we’ve put together this addiction self-test to help individuals better understand the extent of their substance use.

Definition Of Addiction

The American Society of Addiction Medicine [2] defines addiction as a chronic medical disease.  Acknowledging it can help us establish a more firm and realistic understanding of what individuals struggling with addiction are experiencing.  Addiction is not simply a temporary condition but a disease that requires both medical and therapeutic treatment.

Addiction is incredibly complex.  Basically, it involves an individual’s brain circuitry as well as their genetic predispositions.  It is also influenced by outside factors such as an individual’s environment and the circumstances that affect their day-to-day life.  It is the interrelatedness of these factors that separates addiction from dependence and substance abuse.  We will provide further clarity in the section below.

Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences.  People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.  Prevention efforts and treatment approaches for addiction are generally as successful as those for other chronic diseases.

Importance Distinctions Between Dependence And Addiction

You may find that terms like “dependence” and “addiction” are used interchangeably at times, but the reality is that these are two different things.  To determine the best treatment for you, it can be beneficial to understand the difference between the two and describe your condition best.  We also discuss the term “substance abuse” to provide further clarity.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse describes an action, as opposed to a physical, mental, or medical condition.  Many individuals abuse a substance at least once in their lifetime without developing a dependence or addiction.  A sense is abused when it is used more than recommended.  For example, moderate drinking is typically defined as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day.

Heavy drinking, in turn, is defined as more than four drinks in one day for women and five drinks in one day for men.  Alternatively, it is typically referred to as substance abuse when an individual uses any illegal drug or misuses a prescription drug.  Specific uses of drugs or alcohol can be considered substance abuse, even if the behavior doesn’t become habit-forming for an individual.

Drug or Alcohol Dependence

This is more severe than substance abuse but should not be confused with addiction.  Drug or alcohol dependence refers specifically to the physical or chemical dependence on a substance.  It is typically a symptom of addiction but does not cover the full spectrum of what addiction is.

Drugs that lead to support alter the mind upon entering the body, affecting the brain’s chemical makeup.  Specifically, they affect our neurotransmitters that tell our mind or body what to do and how to react.  For example, most drugs affect the neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of pleasure or reward, such as dopamine and serotonin.

Ultimately, if something triggers these pleasure centers, our minds and bodies look for ways to recreate that effect.  When we use substances to achieve those feelings, our brains also look for ways to create some semblance of balance.  As a result, the brain may cease transmitting, absorbing, or even making those neurotransmitters.  If you develop a dependence on a substance, you will likely experience feelings of withdrawal when the effects of the importance wear off.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms vary based on factors such as the substance in question and the extent of the dependence.  However, typical withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite and nausea
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Drowsiness
  • Chills or sweats
  • Shaking or muscle fatigue
  • Discomfort and irritability

Remember, this list is not exhaustive, nor will every individual experience each of these withdrawal symptoms.  However, if you have developed a substance dependence, you can expect symptoms to begin around four to six hours after the substance starts to wear off.  Withdrawal often peaks after ten hours, and many people start to feel relief after the first 24-72 hours.

What Sets Addiction Apart

So how, exactly, is addiction different from dependence?  As we mentioned earlier, support refers specifically to a physical or chemical reaction to repeated substance use.  So when we’re talking about addiction, there is far more to it.

Addiction involves an emotional or mental response to substance abuse, making it very difficult for an individual to stop using that substance.  However, studies have found that for the addicted individual, the odds of attaining sobriety (and staying sober) increase with factors like attending a rehab program, setting up a transitional care plan, and continuing to attend support groups for the foreseeable future.

In other words, some people who have developed a dependence may not struggle to stop using, even if they take those steps independently.  But, on the other hand, addiction is a chronic disease that may require lifelong treatment to avoid relapse.

Signs of Addiction

There is, however, a leaflet with a series of questions which can help: It is called “Am I an addict?” and here is part of the questionnaire:  Let’s take a look at some of the questions you can ask yourself to assess your health.  If at least two of these signs have been present in one year, it is highly possible that what you are living with is addiction.

Inability to Stop Using Regardless of Attempts or Desires

Have you found yourself desiring sobriety or attempting to quit at least once?  Did the desire to continue using overcome your desire for sobriety?  Did you see that attempts to stop lead, at some point, to relapse?

Increase in Dosage or Usage

Have you found that you’re using a substance more than you originally intended?  This can include larger doses or more frequent usage.

Alternatively, have your behaviors surrounding substance use changed?  For example, did substance use begin as a social activity and transform into something more akin to a need?

Substance Cravings

Do you find it difficult to avoid thinking about a substance when the effects have worn off?  Do you actively look forward to or crave your next opportunity to use a sense?

Note that cravings are typically tied to triggers, which refer to specific elements–like emotions, events, or people–that cause us to want or need to use a substance.  Thus, the trigger is the cause, and the craving is the effect.

Increased Effort to Acquire Substance

Have you spent a great deal of time thinking of ways to acquire more of a substance?  Do you prioritize the purchasing of a sense over the purchase of necessities such as food or bills?  Do you find that you spend a good portion of your day recovering from substance abuse?

Prioritization of Substance Use Over Previously Enjoyed Activities

Have you lost sight of the value in certain social or recreational activities that previously brought you joy or fulfillment?  Have you stopped participating in those activities in favor of activities that involve or allow for substance use?

Repeated Substance Use in Hazardous Situations

Have you put yourself in a dangerous position when using a substance?  Have you continued to practice this behavior despite the known danger to yourself and others?

Continued Use despite Known Consequences to Personal Wellness

Do you recognize that your substance use is causing negative emotional or physical consequences?  For example, addiction can often lead to increased mental illness or medical conditions.  Do you continue to prioritize substance use over-improving your wellness?

Continued Use despite Known Negative Impact on Relationships and Opportunities

Has your substance use led to interpersonal issues?  These issues may be between friends, family members, peers, and employers.  Do you continue to prioritize substance use over your meaningful relationships and employment opportunities?

Failure to Meet Responsibilities Due to Substance Use

Has substance use caused you to drop the ball on more than one occasion?  Are you becoming less reliable to your friends, family members, peers, and employers? 

Increased Tolerance to Substance

As we mentioned earlier, dependence typically leads to tolerance, although it is not always easy to detect a growing tolerance within ourselves.  Do you find that the effects of a substance don’t seem to be as strong anymore? 

Experience of Withdrawal Symptoms After Substance Wears Off

Withdrawal symptoms are often one of the triggers that lead to cravings.  Do you find that as a substance wears off, you feel sick, irritable, or restless?  Does consuming a sense alleviate those feelings in ways that other factors (like sleep or food) do not?

What Recovery Options Do I Have?

Now that you’ve read through our addiction self-test and recognize the signs of addiction, you may be wondering what options are available to individuals who are suffering from addiction.   Unfortunately, we generally don’t refer to things like “going cold turkey” alone as an option simply because there are safer and more effective ways to recover.

Instead, we recommend looking into the many rehabilitation options.  For example, we often recommend medication-assisted treatment.  This combines FDA-approved medical therapy with counseling and behavioral therapy to deliver the “whole-patient” approach.

For some individuals, addiction therapy or outpatient programs may prove to be a viable option.  We often recommend continuing with these types of programs after completing an in-patient program.  As we mentioned earlier, developing a clear aftercare plan and sticking to it can help patients avoid relapse.

A dual diagnosis program is often the way to go for those suffering from the comorbidity (simultaneous presence) of addiction and mental illness.  In a dual diagnosis program, you can detox safely, begin therapy, and uncover the ways that your addiction and mental illness often feed off of one another.  In addition, addressing both ailments can give you a better sense of what you need to live a happy, healthy life.

Our Self Test Program is One Phone Call Away

Substance abuse statistics continue to rise in the United States of America, putting more and more individuals on the path of addiction.  We hope that we’ve helped you address the question, “Am I an addict?”

At We Level Up Treatment Center, we provide world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope.  All are working as a team providing Am I addict programs and other aspects of treatment.  Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life.  Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists.  Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.

Sources:

[1] National Institute on Drug Abuse – https://archives.drugabuse.gov/san-diego-county-california

[2] American Addiction Centers. (2020, October 08). Beating the Relapse Statistics. Retrieved November 30, 2020, from https://alcoholrehab.com/alcohol-recovery/beating-the-relapse-statistics/

[3] American Society of Addiction Medicine – https://www.asam.org/quality-practice/definition-of-addiction

[4] AlcoholRehab – https://alcoholrehab.com/alcohol-recovery/beating-the-relapse-statistics/