Am I an Addict?

Updated: Jul 20, 2021


When first seeking treatment for alcohol or drug addiction, a person’s first question to themselves may be, “Am I really an addict?” People don’t seek treatment because their life is going well. There is usually a lot of chaos, destruction, and sadness that have brought them to the place of asking for help.

The first step to recovery is asking for help and talking with a professional about substance abuse. Life at home for the addict may not be a safe place for them to talk about what is really going on behind closed doors.

Seeking professional help provides the addict support, empathy, and guidance as to what type of treatment may be best for them. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, there are several indicators that may help the individual accept that they need help for substance abuse:

Strained Relationships

When a person is in active addiction, the people around them such as spouses, family members, children and friends are affected by the addict's behavior. The addict may have irrational and dangerous behavior that affects the people they love most. Over time, the substance often takes priority over relationships in the addict's life. This may lead to physical and emotional abuse and overall emotional unrest in the relationship.

Consequently, it may be difficult for others to understand the behavior of the addict. The person they were before they started using drugs and alcohol is often completely different from the person they are when in active addiction. This can cause confusion and heartache for the people who love the addict most. Strained relationships with friends, family, children, and loved ones due to substance abuse may be a telling indicator to the addict that they have a problem.

Work Performance

People who have a substance abuse disorder are often stereotyped as jobless or homeless. However, this is hardly the case, as nearly 70% of people with a substance abuse disorder are employed. Consequences in the workplace due to substance abuse may result in calling into work, coming to work late, and poor work performance. As the disease of addiction progresses, it becomes more difficult for the addict to hold down a job and other responsibilities.

Some individuals are still able to function and maintain their jobs when in active addiction, known as a “high functioning addict.” However, if the addict is drinking or using before or immediately after work, this could present a multitude of problems to both the addict and the employer. It is important for the individual questioning if they have a substance abuse problem to reflect on their job performance and if it has been affected by their addiction to substances.

Physical Signs

A person who suffers from a substance abuse disorder may experience withdrawal symptoms that can be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. It is important to seek medical attention when withdrawing from substances and be under the care of a doctor. Physical withdrawal symptoms may include:

● Shaking

● Sweating

● Nausea and/or vomiting

● Seizures

● Anxiety

● Depression

It is also important to notice physical changes while in active addiction. Some may experience weight changes, development of tolerance, memory issues, physical cravings, and compromised immune system. Research shows that long term substance use weakens the brain’s prefrontal cortex and affects the brain's reward system. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for self control, emotion regulation, and attention.

Excessive substance abuse weakens this area of the brain, which can cause mood swings, depression, and other negative behaviors. If a person tries to stop and is unable to stop on their own, then it may be time to seek professional help.

Behavioral Changes

A person who is suffering from addiction may experience changes in their behavior. Changes in sleeping patterns, increased alienation, and lack of interest in hobbies and activities that used to be important to them are just some of the noticeable behavioral changes an addict may experience. People who are in active addiction tend to surround themselves with people that are also abusing drugs and alcohol. The addict may also display secretive or sneaky behavior. They may become defensive or angry when confronted about their addiction, which may lead to further isolation.

Behavioral changes may be the most obvious sign of a substance abuse problem to the people in the addict’s life. However, it may be hard for the addict to acknowledge these changes in behavior. When in active addiction, the addict has a warped sense of reality. It is important for the people who love the addict to not enable their addiction.


Addiction can affect an individual's life in many different ways. It is essential to view how substance abuse has affected one's life with an open mind so they are able to come to a place of acceptance. Strained relationships, poor work performance, physical changes, and behavioral changes are some of the factors that may help a person realize they have a problem with drugs and alcohol. There are many different treatment options available such as residential, outpatient, and teletherapy. Recovery from drugs and alcohol is possible and is the first step to healing. Seeking help from a professional is the first step to recovery.

Works Cited

Blueprint Recovery Center. “Spotting the Signs of Physical Dependence: Substance Abuse: NH.” Blueprint Recovery Center, 20 May 2020,

“Job Problems Caused by Addiction.” Addiction Center, 16 June 2021,

Tyler, Mara. “Recognizing an Addiction Problem.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 13 Jan. 2018,

“6 Ways Addiction Changes Your Personality.” Burning Tree |, 20 Feb. 2020,

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Disclaimer: All information provided on is intended for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Sober Solutions Network is not a medical provider or a treatment center nor does it claim to be. Sober Solutions Network is not affiliated nor support any one particular treatment center. Sober Solutions Network may be paid a fee for advertising organizations that can assist with treating addictions.

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