Substance Abuse & Chemical Dependency

An addiction is an unhealthy relationship with drugs or alcohol in which you use more than you would like to and continue to do so despite negative consequences.
People use drugs or alcohol to escape, relax, or to reward themselves. But over time, this use can lead you to believe that you can’t cope or enjoy life without the substances. This can be detrimental to your self-esteem. The goal in therapy is to help you move from physical sobriety to emotional sobriety.

Warning Signs of Drug or Alcohol Abuse

Drug and alcohol abuse or misuse (excessive or inappropriate use of a substance) can be difficult to define, and people’s opinions, values, and beliefs vary significantly on the topic. For some, any use of an illegal drug or any use of alcohol with the primary purpose of intoxication constitutes abuse. For others, abuse is indicated by recurring, negative consequences, such as:
  • Failure to meet social, work, and academic obligations.
  • Physical injury or illness.
  • Alcohol- or drug-related legal problems, such as arrest for driving while intoxicated.
  • Relationship problems with intimate partners, friends, and family.
  • Impulsivity, such as spending money excessively.
  • Diminished interest in other activities.
  • Short-term memory loss or blackouts.

beach 6Signs that Abuse Has Become Addiction

Substance abuse can lead to substance dependence or addiction when both the amount of substance used and the rate of use increase. People who experience drug or alcohol addiction feel unable to control the impulse to use, and they often experience withdrawal symptoms in the sudden absence of the substance. Alcoholism, for example, occurs when people become chemically dependent on alcohol, and those who are addicted may become ill if they suddenly stop drinking. People may also feel psychologically dependent on a substance and continue to use it, particularly under stressful circumstances or to alleviate other psychological problems. Some people deny or are unaware that they have a problem with addiction, and sometimes a person’s substance dependency and abuse remains hidden from loved ones.
Signs of chemical dependence include:
  • Increasing tolerance, or the need to consume more of the substance to reach the desired altered state. 
  • Requiring the substance throughout the day.
  • Seeking the company of other users and cutting off social ties with non-users.
  • Dismissing or resenting expressions of concern from loved ones.
  • Avoiding other activities and failing to meet obligations.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms in the absence of the substance.
  • Hiding use from family and friends.
  • Binging (using heavily) for many hours or several days.
  • Feeling unable to quit.