Developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol doesn't have to prevent you from reaching the goals or cause you to lose the people and goals you hold dear. However, the first step to overcoming an addiction is to admit there's a problem and identify an appropriate course of action. Understanding the costs of an addiction may help you stay on course once you've recognized your compulsions.
What's Your Personal Cost?
Long-term drug or alcohol use leads to physical, emotional, and financial harm. What many people don't realize is that these habits have short-term costs as well. One study comparing the financial costs of using drugs and alcohol found that an addiction could cost an individual all of their earnings if they are able to remain working throughout their habit. However, many of those individuals who develop drug and alcohol habits lose jobs, pull away from supportive family and friends, and turn to other expensive habits.
How Did Your Habit Start?
Why do people start using drugs? There are many different reasons and a wide range of factors that predict drug use. Understanding these reasons can help you avoid the situations and patterns of behavior that are likely to undermine your recovery efforts.
- Curiosity or boredom
- Anxiety and stress
- Prescription use
- Family instability
For many people, sobriety and walking away from drug and alcohol use seems like the worse option, but effective counseling and support can help.
Recognize the Signs of Substance Abuse
People from all walks of life experience addiction. Whether the use of drugs or alcohol began as a prescription or as recreational use, dependence on those substances can become a reality without your awareness. Eventually, the continued use of drugs and/or alcohol harms the body and mind. Admitting that you have a problem and acknowledging that you need help to overcome the problem are the first steps of recovery. Admitting that you need help and treatment is the first step in turning your life in a new direction.
Take an honest look at your life. Do you recognize any of the following signs of substance abuse?
- You're still taking a medication after the health problem isn't an issue.
- You need to take increasingly large doses to get relief from your symptoms.
- When the drugs or alcohol wear off, you feel sick, shaky, depressed, or have headaches.
- Your use of the substance is negatively affecting your family.
- A lot of your time is spent trying to figure out ways to get more of the drug or alcohol.
- You're not interested in things you used to enjoy.
- You hide your habits from others and withdraw from family, friends, coworkers, and others.
- Your sleep and hygiene habits have changed for the worse.
- You've made new friends who support your use of drugs and/or alcohol.
You may have noticed bloodshot eyes, or your coworkers may have complained about your bad breath. You could have lost or gained a lot of weight because of these habits. Even if you've only noticed a handful of these changes in your life, it's worth taking a closer look.
Tackling the First Step of Recovery
Recognizing the problem and deciding to change your behaviors is a hard first step, especially if you have tried before. It's reasonable to feel nervous or uncertain, especially as you realistically view the work ahead of you. Look for ways to improve your path to recovery. Some examples include making a note of the people and things most important to you. Consider how your partner, children, and friends are affected by your habits. Choose a mentor in whom you can confide. Find a supportive group with common goals. Understand the costs of addiction.
You Are Not Alone
It's important to note that people in many positions in society and with many different jobs, from all age ranges, racial backgrounds, and income brackets could experience addictions to drugs or alcohol. The habit itself can leave individuals feeling isolated, ashamed, and hopeless. If you believe you have a substance abuse problem, begin by recognizing the addiction and reaching out for help. You may find that family, friends, and coworkers are more supportive than you expect.