A guide to determine if you have an addiction.
by Astharte De Los Santos

Addiction affects many people all over the world. It’s that one thing that has no preference. It’s not a culture thing, a race thing or an ethnicity thing. It’s a human thing. According to the NSDUH, addiction is actually on the rise. Studies show that in 2013, an estimated 9% of the population, 12 years or older used illicit drugs in the past month. Compared to 2002, where only 8.3% of the population engaged in illicit drug use.
Addiction is a disease that affected 22.7 million Americans in 2013. It is considered a disease because of the way the brain reacts to it. When we begin to consume drugs or alcohol the “reward circuit” in the brain is mainly affected. Which is why we feel good when we are on the drug or alcohol but after prolonged use the brain starts to adapt to it. It begins to alter the user’s personality by affecting cognition and perception. Sending the user into mental stress when they can’t get a hold of their drugs or alcohol. Addiction,tends to creep into a person’s life, because of how vulnerable we are when we choose to alter our consciousness with said drugs or alcohol. Most of us are so wrapped up in our addiction, that only an intervention or a life changing event forces us to actually acknowledge that we may have a problem. To accept that you have an addiction means to humble yourself and admit that at this very moment, you have lost control of your life or you want to make the decision to not partake in drug or alcohol abuse anymore. According to the NSDUH, a survey conducted in the U.S to study drug and alcohol use in people 12 years or older, in 2013 7.3 million Americans were having struggles with alcohol use or had problems in their life related to it. The good thing is, that it’s actually been on a decline since 2002, which was 18.1 million.

So how can you determine if your drug or alcohol use has become a problem that you need to deal with?????
Here is a quick guide to help you assess your lifestyle and determine if you have an addiction. Ask yourself the following questions……….

When you wake up and do not have your choice of drugs or alcohol, does it make you not want to get up?
Many times depression is the culprit behind drug or alcohol use. There is a big relation between drug and alcohol dependency and mood disorders. One of the things you can do is to reach out to a community center in your area. They can assist you in getting in touch with a mental health professional that can properly evaluate what treatment you may need to help you cope with your mood.

Do you find it difficult to deal with everyday life issues?
We all have our days, but when you constantly miss important things because of your drug or alcohol abuse it may be time to seek some help. Not being able to deal with things that weren’t a problem before, is a big sign that your drug or alcohol abuse may be interfering with your life.

If you have financial responsibilities, would you rather choose buying drugs or alcohol?
Avoiding financial responsibility is one of the first signs that the drug or alcohol use, has become a problem. If you are putting your drug or alcohol abuse before a bill that needs to be paid it’s time to address your issue. When you risk becoming financially unstable, you are putting your responsibilities in the back burner, ultimately risking your safety and security needs.

Do you have physical pain if you don’t use drugs or alcohol?
After prolonged drug or alcohol abuse the body begins to depend on said substance causing it to go into stress, when you withdraw from it. The body adjust to the drugs or alcohol by causing physiological adaptations to the nervous system and the brain. So when you experience physical pain, it usually means that you are physically dependent to the drugs or alcohol.

When you think about your life, do you have thoughts of suicide?
Lastly, this is the most important question to ask yourself. You have to be real with yourself. Thoughts of suicide are not healthy. Allowing them to linger, is risking your mental health and most importably your life!. If you have any thoughts of hurting yourself or others, please call 911.

If you see any of these symptoms in your loved ones, do not allow it to go on. Addiction is a disease, that if left untreated can lead users into terrible depression and ultimately their death. So please intervene and seek treatment help.

I leave you with this quote:
“I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.” 
― Edgar Allan Poe

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Please read this very informational article about the dangers of the substances you may be struggling with.