Top 10 Signs You Need to Seek Professional Help ASAP for Your Addiction

seek professional help

Every year, the US spends $740 billion in costs related to the abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs.

And for every 100,000 Americans, 14 people die as a result of an overdose. While that number seems low, almost 50% of Americans admit that they have a family member or friend struggling with substance abuse. All that to say that addiction is a big problem in the US.

If you think you might have an addiction, knowing how to recognize and accept it is half the battle. After you’ve accepted that you should seek professional help, you’re on your way to recovery and getting on the right track.

If you’re unsure whether or not you’re an addict, check your life and behaviors against these 10 signs.

1. You Have A Mild to Severe Addiction

Addiction falls on a spectrum of mild to severe. There is 11 criterion for diagnosing addiction:

  • Loss of control over your behavior and actions
  • Being unable to abstain from the substance
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about and trying to get the substance
  • Craving the substance
  • Regularly being irresponsible
  • Relationship problems with family, friends, children, significant others
  • Loss of interest in life
  • Dangerous use and behaviors
  • Situation getting progressively worse
  • Increasing tolerance and the need to take more to feel effects
  • Experiencing withdrawal

If 2-3 of the above describe you, you likely have a mild addiction. Meeting 3-4 of the above would signal a moderate addiction. Anything above 4 criteria means you have a severe addiction.

Regardless of the severity of your disorder, you should seek help. Addiction is a progressive disease. That means that it will continue to get worse if left untreated.

What may only be a severe substance abuse problem right now can quickly turn into a severe problem. Don’t wait to hit rock bottom before you seek professional help.

2. You’ve Operated a Vehicle While Intoxicated

In 2016, alcohol-impaired car crashes caused 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the US. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol puts your life and the lives of everyone around you in danger.

Being unable to recognize the extreme danger of driving under the influence is a sure sign that you have a problem. If you wake up in the morning and ask why you attempted to drive, or if you have no recollection of getting yourself home, it’s a sign that your addiction is controlling your decision-making processes.

3. You Have Health Problems Related to Drug or Alcohol Abuse

If the substance you’re using is having an effect on the rest of your body, it’s time to quit. Long-term drug use can affect both your mental and physical health.

Substance abuse can alter the chemical compensation of your brain and affect your memory, ability to learn, as well as your decision-making processes. It may also cause life-threatening problems such as damage to your heart, brain, and liver.

If your doctor has told you that your drug and/or alcohol use is affecting your physical or mental health, that’s a sign that your addiction is hurting your body. Your doctor is a medical professional and their advice shouldn’t be taken lightly.

4. You Experience Withdrawal or Use Alone

When you have headaches, insomnia, paranoia, nausea, or irritability as a result of not using, you’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms. If your body is going through withdrawal, it means that it’s physically addicted to the substance you’re abusing.

Using on your own is also a signal that your problem is getting worse. For example, if you drink when you’re alone instead of the social setting it’s intended for, you probably have a problem with alcohol. That’s also true if you can’t go a whole day without having a drink.

5. Drinking or Drugs Have Got You in Legal Trouble

Making poor decisions is one thing. Making poor decisions while under the influence and landing yourself in trouble with the law is quite another.

If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, being drunk in public, or possessing an illegal substance, you should think about how much this had to do with your addiction. If you wouldn’t have done these things sober, then it’s time to think about seeking professional help.

6. You’re Experiencing Depression or Another Mental Illness

Some people use drugs and/or alcohol to self-medicate and cope with sadness or a mental illness. Using substances can help subdue symptoms of mental illness – but only for a short period.

You can’t treat mental illness with drugs and alcohol. It’s a temporary fix that can actually exacerbate your symptoms when you sober up.

The only way to treat your mental illness is to seek professional help. This useful article explains the importance of treating mental illness and substance abuse together.

It’s also true that some drugs can cause mental illness. Depression is a common side effect of drinking and drug abuse. It can lead to suicidal thoughts and self-harm. If using is causing your mental health to unravel, it’s time to get treatment.

7. You’re No Longer a Functioning User

There is what’s know as high-functioning addicts. These are people who are able to maintain relationships, fulfill familial duties, and do well at work while hiding a substance abuse problem.

No matter how high-functioning you might be, a drug or alcohol addiction is not sustainable. As mentioned, addiction is a progressive disease. The physical and mental effects of your addiction will catch up with you.

Losing your job, being kicked out of school, or being financially insecure are signals that you’re no longer able to maintain your life along with your addiction. When your relationships begin to unravel as well, you’re approaching rock bottom. But you can seek professional help before things get any worse.

8. Friends and Family Are Concerned

If your friends and/or family have talked to you about their concerns, or if they’ve staged an intervention, your problem is bigger than you’re likely willing to admit. People who can see your life from the outside may recognize what you don’t – that you have a substance abuse problem that requires professional treatment.

But what if your friends tell you that you’re fine and that you don’t need help? This may reinforce your denial and the sense that you don’t really have a problem. When this happens, consider these three points:

  • Are these friend that you use with? If so, they likely have problems that they’re in denial about themselves.
  • Have you been hiding the extent of your use? If so, your friends may not be aware of the extent of your problems.
  • Are you comfortable telling them the extent of your problem? If not, this may not be the kind of friendship in which you can be fully honest. Your friend may feel uncomfortable expressing that they believe you have a problem.

9. You Lie About Your Addiction

Lying doesn’t only apply to lying to others about your addiction. You may also be lying to yourself about the extent of your problems. Denial is a big reason many addicts don’t seek help.

Remember that people don’t lie unless there is a reason for it. If you’re lying about how much you’re using, you know you’re using too much. If you thought the amount you were using was acceptable, you’d be honest about it with friends, family, and yourself.

Not being honest creates a vicious cycle of lying. You often have to lie about where you are, who you’re with, what you’re doing, where your money has gone, and why you’ve missed important events. This will cause family and friends to lose trust in you. It may even cause problems in your career and other commitments.

You may also start lying to your doctor in order to obtain more prescription drugs. This can eventually lead to legal problems.

10. You Think You Might Need to Seek Professional Help

People who don’t have a problem with drugs or alcohol, don’t think about the fact that they may have a problem with drugs or alcohol. If you’ve been thinking you may need to get help, you probably do. If you’ve set personal goals to try and cut back or abstain and you’re unable to sustain it, that’s a sign that your body is physically and perhaps mentally addicted.

Professional treatment can help you deal with the withdrawal systems safely and get through one of the hardest parts of quitting. When you’re addicted to heroin or other opioids, you need a treatment center to provide a safe detox.

If you’re self-medicating a mental illness, professional help is even more necessary. They can help you treat both the addiction and the underlying mental illness.

Do You Need Professional Help?

For addicts of all types, it’s important to note that when you seek professional help, you’re getting more than just a detox from the physical addiction. A big part of addiction is the behavioral issues behind why you became addicted in the first place.

If you’re serious about recovery, you need to address the psychological components of your addiction. This means addressing and changing the way that you think, feel, and behave. For advice on how to maintain self-improvement and a healthy lifestyle, check out our blog.