Are You a Recreational User or Addicted?

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If you think you’re just a social drinker or recreational drug user but your friends and family keep trying to tell you otherwise, maybe you have a problem. If alcohol and drug use have escalated to the point of abuse, here are some ways to gauge if you need help.

“I Don’t Have a Problem”

Denial can come from one of two options. Maybe you genuinely don’t have a problem so denial is an expected response and appropriate. Or you may have a substance problem and your denials are just a way for your subconscious to try to minimize the problem. It’s most likely the latter.

Have you found yourself developing a tolerance and needing more of the drug or alcohol to achieve the desired effects that you had in the past? You may be justifying why you need to use more but this is another indication that you’ve crossed over from social use to substance abuse.

Hiding Your Use

If the people in your family start nagging you about your substance use, you may start hiding it. Sure, you want to avoid a hassle. However, ask yourself if it’s really about avoiding an argument or if you are escalating so far out of control that you don’t want others to see how bad your alcohol or drug use has become. Or should we say abuse?

You may not completely lie about your drug use, but you may hide how severe it is and how much you are using drugs or alcohol. Maybe you have several hiding places around the house or you forget where you’ve hidden substances and start accusing those around you of taking them. Shouldn’t feeling like you need to hide your use tell you something?

Objects of Obsession

Have you reached the stage where using has become the most important thing in your life? If you’re obsessing over thoughts about when you’re going to be able to get high or have another drink or where you’re going to get your alcohol or drugs from, chances are you’re becoming obsessed. 

You may become so obsessed that other things take a backseat to the use of alcohol or drugs. You might lose a home, job, or a marriage and children because you are so consumed with altering your feelings with chemicals.

You Feel Out of Control

If you’re obsessing over your substance use and starting to hide it from friends or family, you are probably feeling out of control. You may tell yourself you can stop at any time, but is that really true? Do you experience physical symptoms when you try to stop alcohol or withdraw from medication or drugs? If you experience tremors or signs of withdrawal, your body has developed a need for the drug or drink. If you have been using multiple substances it may be hard to distinguish what is causing the physical problem but you need to get clean of all substances regardless.


Have you had a loss of consciousness and you can’t remember what you did? You may tell yourself that this was a one-time thing, or that you were celebrating, or that it was just a harmless college party, but you’re out of control if you’re having blackout episodes when you drink. It’s a terrible feeling to wake up and wonder what you did the night before. You may have done something or said something that causes you dire consequences or embarrassment.

When blackouts occur, you are risking such side effects as alcohol poisoning or drug overdose and you should seek help. Passing out is the body’s way of telling you that you need to stop by literally shutting things down so you can’t drink or do more drugs. Consider it your body’s final warning.

Do No Harm

If you are continuing behavior that hurts other areas of your life, you’ve crossed the line from recreation to abuse. This may manifest as lost jobs or lost relationships. You may be selling things or worse yet, stealing things, to get money to support your habit. With behavioral addictions, you may be experiencing health problems from overeating or financial devastation from an inability to stop gambling. If you are facing jail time related to your alcohol or drug use, things have gotten dire. This is way beyond partying and having a good time.

Physical Signs of Substance Abuse

There are some physical signs that you can look for or your friends and family may have already noticed. Perhaps when you look in the mirror you hardly recognize the person looking back at you. Your hair is uncombed or you aren’t wearing makeup. You haven’t shaved or showered in days. You probably lost weight and you’re noticeably looking haggard. You may have dilated pupils or bloodshot eyes and you look like a stranger. 

It’s time to get help.

Substance use disorder doesn’t happen overnight. While your life and health slowly spiral out of control, you may not heed the signs or concerns of family and friends who try to confront you. You may run away if you walk into an intervention. You may not see blatant facts and continue your denial. Sit down and do an honest assessment of your behavior and ask yourself if this is how you really want to live. You can leave substance abuse behind and get help. At Everlast Recovery Center, we understand how hard it is to face reality and admit that we have a problem. But we can build you back up with therapy, healthy holistic approaches, and make you feel at home with our home-cooked meals. At our Riverside, CA rehabilitation center, we’ll help you get back on track and start a whole new life of sobriety. It’s time to get help now. Call us at 866-DETOX-25

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