If you are concerned about your drinking or drug use frequency, volume or importance in your life, try to stop for a set amount of time (one or two months). If you can’t take a break or continually put it off by making excuses, then you have good reason to be concerned.
Signs of a Drinking or Drug Problem
- Craving or impulse that does not stop until satisfied
- Loss of control over the amount or frequency of behavior
- Compulsion to use or partake in a behaviour
- Continued use regardless of harmful consequences (injury, disease, risky behaviour, damaged relationships, money problems, health issues, depression, hopelessness and loss of self respect)
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Signs of denial about severity of problem
Controlled Drinking or Drug Use
- You are able to stop using the substance or participating in the behaviour and frequently do (very different from thinking you can stop but not actually doing so)
- Being unable to partake in a behaviour or use a substance does not cause significant stress or discomfort
- You make a conscious choice to use or participate, rather than by routine or reflex
How does an addiction begin?
Many people find they used drinking or drug use to cope with an area of their life that was not going well: life or work stress, difficult social situations or grief. If repeated, ways of coping often become habits: some ways of coping become positive habits, while others begin to do damage and even make the original problem worse.
Habits, even if you know they are not healthy, can slowly become deeply ingrained within you and your personality to the point that they no longer are a choice. At this point you may find yourself feeling “out of control.” An addiction is a habit that has stopped being an active choice and more often then not is causing harm to your life and to those around you. The sense of being “out of control” is your warning sign.
How do I deal with addiction?
Once the root of the problem is faced it is easier to replace harmful, addictive behaviours with positive ones. Here are some ideas to consider as you take on the challenge of dealing with an addiction:
- It is normal to feel frightened and overwhelmed by the idea of having an addiction.
- Addictions that have been in your life for a long time may seem impossible to overcome because you may not be able to see a way out.
- You don’t have to figure this out alone: look for support groups, read about addictions and/or begin individual therapy, couples therapy or family counselling.
- Consider changing your lifestyle to avoid people or places that will “trigger” the habit aspect of your addiction.
- Have faith and hope that another way of living is possible. Facing an addiction head-on is brave!
A trained therapist who understands the psychology of addiction can help you start coming to terms with your emotions and fears in a safe and supportive environment. Psychotherapy is valuable way to confront the distress underlying your addiction. Marriage counselling or couples therapy can help you to heal your relationship from the damage your addiction has caused in your lives together. Click here to book an appointment with a Montreal therapist.