How do I know I have an Addiction?

Believe it or not, that is really a great question.  Most people with the disease of substance abuse certainly don’t intend to become an addict.  But what happens over time, sometimes a very short time and sometimes over months, a “switch” is activated.  And that switch leads to a compulsive need to take or use the substance.  The person with addiction often says to themselves, “oh, I can stop using at any time…..but I just don’t want to.”  Sometimes the reason someone doesn’t want to quit using is due to withdrawal sickness or severe depression when not taking/using.  But whatever the reasons, the person cannot stop.  Oftentimes other people will express their concern to the substance user; sometimes it is external events like a DUI or failed drug tests for employment: sometimes if someone is dependent on pain pills and cannot stop taking.  And almost every time the person with the disease of substance use disorder says over and over to themselves “I need to stop taking.”  And despite best intentions or believing, “I can stop tomorrow,” that tomorrow never comes.  That drive to use is overwhelming and the person with addiction cannot go through a day without battling thoughts of using/taking and that drive isn’t satisfied until the person with substance use disorder takes or uses.


It can be very hard to admit there is a problem.  After all, if the person just had enough willpower?


Dan Criswell, MD
Duncan Behavioral Health and Addiction

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