What to Do When Your Drug Use Becomes Too Much

What to Do When Your Drug Use Becomes Too Much

You’ve been using drugs for a while now. Not all the time, but you find yourself getting high more often than you are comfortable with. Instead of pursuing past hobbies or interests, you now spend your time getting high. You might even be mixing pills and alcohol together. Your loved ones may or may not know about your drug use. You may find yourself withdrawing from others and spending more time in isolation. Your coworkers might have some idea that something is going on as you’ve missed more work over the last few months than you normally do. You might even find yourself driving under the influence. You may shrug this off because you use prescription pills that are completely legal and are prescribed to you for a valid medical condition. Yet you find yourself taking more than you did before and even thinking about the drugs more often. If this is a description of your situation, please keep reading.

Addiction has four different stages and typically starts with the experimentation stage

People start out experimenting with drugs for many different reasons. Some individuals are curious about a particular drug’s effects. Others could face peer pressure to use by a friend or acquaintance. No one who experiments with drugs or alcohol plans to become addicted. Addiction is defined by the National Institute of Health as a chronic relapsing psychiatric disorders characterized by the compulsive and uncontrolled use of a drug or activity, with maladaptive and destructive outcomes.[1] Research shows that genes are responsible for about half of the risk for alcoholism. Therefore, genes alone do not determine whether someone will become an alcoholic. Environmental factors, as well as gene and environment interactions account for the remainder of the risk.[2] Granted, this specific example is for alcoholism, but alcohol is just one of many addictive substances this applies to. Some individuals are more likely to struggle with addiction because of those factors.

The social drinker or drug user uses substances in social situations, usually to relax, fit in or have fun. Although it seems innocent enough, this is can be very dangerous. When the social use continues even in the face of negative consequences, they’ve crossed the line into substance abuse. The definitions of substance abuse and addiction are changing, but the problem behaviors are largely the same. Whether it’s called abuse, dependence or addiction, when drug use interferes with work, health, career, finances, relationships or other areas of life, it’s a problem.

What specific steps can you take if you struggle with substance abuse or addiction?

Realize you are not in control

This also means no longer rationalizing your drug use. No longer excusing it away. You need to be completely honest with yourself and practice self-awareness to get to this point. This typically does not happen through willpower alone but rather from consequences from your addiction such as broken relationships, sickness or overdose, stealing or other issues related to drug use.

Seek out help

This can look different for each individual. The reality is it depends on the level of abuse you have reached, so consult your doctor as the first step. A few things you can do include: going to family members, attending local support groups, moving into a sober living home, going into rehab or attending an outpatient program.

Remove yourself from the situation

This is why the most effective treatment options are inpatient treatment programs where you are in rehab away from your current situation. The change of scenery is very helpful as it gives you some distance and perspective on your drug use. Most inpatient rehab programs are between 30 and 90 days in length. This time gives you a chance to establish new healthy habits and routines. Most rehab programs also offer medical supervision so you can get help from trained professionals as you go through the withdrawal stage. The severity of withdrawal can be quite extreme depending on how much of your chosen substance you have been taking. Once you have gotten the drugs out of your system, you will then participate in various structured programs such as group therapy, one-on-one treatment with a therapist and other healthy activities.

Please keep in mind that addiction does not simply go away without some form of help. Without treatment, your addiction will get worse. The earlier you reach out for help, the more time you will have to rebuild your life and get clean. This is the important first step that you must take on the path to recovery. If you know it is time to get help, please call our helpline right now and speak with one of our trained counselors. There is no pressure or obligation on your part. The only questions that will be asked of you are basic demographical information and what prompted your call. Take the important first step so you can live a happier, drug-free life.


[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2715956/ Genes and Addictions

[2] http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders/genetics-alcohol-use-disorders Genetics of Alcohol Use Disorder

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