When you read about addiction, the disease seems easy to detect. There are clear cut symptoms to look for as well as significant behavioral changes and social withdrawal. Sometimes, however, the line is blurred when it comes to having fun and struggling with addiction, and this can make it difficult to be serious about seeking professional help.
The River Source community sees this scenario quite often. We have many families that call our team to discuss their loved one, only to find that they’re unsure of how deep the problem really is. When there is this type of uncertainty, the denial that already exists is made even greater, which means the problem won’t be taken seriously.
Why Addiction Can be Difficult to Detect in its Early Stages
Our facility has many patients who come to us in denial about their addiction, and they tend to use a lot of phrases like, “I’m just having fun,” “All my friends are doing the same thing,” or “I can quit whenever I want to.” These phrases, especially said in confidence, can turn any friend or family member into a believer. To make things more complicated, a behavior like drinking is socially acceptable. If your 21-year-old son is going out for drinks each night after work, does that mean he’s addicted? Or is it simply his way to unwind from the day?
In our experience at The River Source, we find that when the lines are blurred, this is often the time where the once fun social activity is becoming an addiction. If your son goes out for a drink every night, drives home sober and is satisfied, then there isn’t a problem. Yet if he begins to need more alcohol, cannot skip one night of drinking and relies on the drug to have fun and relax, addiction is most certainly forming.
Why Some Addicts Have to Reach Their Breaking Point
Many of our patients report that they knew that their addictive habit was forming when they couldn’t tolerate being sober, being in sober environments or being around others who were sober. “I never had fun at family outings. I just wanted to get high,” one patient of ours confides. “It seemed like I could never have fun unless I had alcohol in me,” reports another patient. These feelings are very common for addicts, and it’s important not to mistake them for the normal feelings of having fun.
Sometimes, however, it takes an addict to reach their lowest point before they realize that what they’re dealing with is an addiction. Anthony, a 25-year-old patient of ours, realized his breaking point when he could no longer look at himself in the mirror. He was miserable with his addiction. He had lost his friends, damaged his relationship with family members and even had his engagement called off. His credit was ruined, and he was on the brink of filing for bankruptcy. He held onto the idea of having fun for so long, that it blinded him as he was led deeper and deeper into the world of drug abuse.
Anthony told those around him that everything was under control and that he knew his boundaries. He thought he had everyone fooled, but really, his life was crumbling right in front of him. It was at this point that he knew he needed help if he ever wanted to have his life back. If someone would have approached him before, he would have denied there was ever a problem. Today, Anthony understands his limits and knows that he cannot just stop at one drink. His best defense is to lead a completely sober life and fill his schedule with healthy activities.
Signs Your Social Habit is Becoming an Addiction
Here are some things to look for when determining whether you or a loved one is struggling with addiction:
- The behavior is placed before everything else, including family and friends.
- You crave the feeling of being intoxicated or high on drugs, and this euphoria drives you to want the drug more.
- You suffer from intense mood swings, especially when the drug of choice is not in your system.
- The behavior becomes an obsession. You are constantly planning on how you will get more of the drug.
- All of your money goes to the habit, and you don’t mind going bankrupt or maxing out credit cards to support the addiction. Some people even resort to stealing.
- A tolerance is built up to the drug, and you crave more and more of it to get the same effects.
- Work or school suffers from behavior. Some people are put on probation while others receive bad grades or lose their jobs.
It is immensely difficult to stand up and admit that you have an addiction. Many believe falsely believe that addiction is a sign of weakness. To look less vulnerable, they claim that they’re just having fun and are completely in control of their behaviors. However, being honest will allow you to receive the professional help you need and truly take control of the dependence. Let The River Source be your support as you make the choice to enter rehabilitation and take control of your life – for real this time