When dealing with an addiction, the struggling individual might be the last person to admit that they have a problem. Often, their family and friends will express concern first and might even stage an intervention. While family members or friends may not be physicians or licensed mental health professionals, the concerned party will usually cite examples of troubling changes in physical appearance, mood, routines, and even social circles.
If you have been confronted with evidence that you need help for substance use issues, the next step to take is to find a treatment center. A physician or mental health professional will then make a formal diagnosis. In treatment, you can begin to address this diagnosis and rebuild your life.
Characteristics of Addiction
Addiction is often diagnosed when a person cannot quit using drugs or alcohol, despite obvious danger and signs of poor health. Because it is a chronic brain and mental health illness, addiction can impair impulse control and behaviors. This may exist at varying levels due to the specifics of their addiction, like the substance used, quantity consumed, and the length of their addiction.
Growing urges to use drugs or alcohol is also a sign of addiction. For prescription drug addiction, tolerance can build quickly (especially for opiate medications), leading to an irreparable addiction. The need to consume a larger amount to feel that euphoric feeling (“reward”) is a sign of chemical dependency.
Addiction is a behavioral disorder, so defensiveness and outright denial of the fact that there is a problem and a serious health risk is characteristic of addiction. The lack of awareness and insight shows how much the addiction has overpowered clear thought processing.
The behavioral and emotional effects of addiction should be taken into account, particularly behaviors that cause damage. Common effects of addiction include:
- Relationship problems like major conflicts with family or friends
- Employment termination
- Risky behaviors like driving under the influence or purchasing substances illegally
These are signs of addiction and signs that the addiction is putting others at risk.
Confronting Your Past Choices
Dealing with an addiction diagnosis will require you to confront painful trauma, remember embarrassing episodes of behavior, and face pain you may have caused and received. While looking to substances may have provided a temporary escape, hearing your formal diagnosis will require you to think about what has led you to this point right now. You turned to a mind-altering substance to help you avoid pain and emotions, and now you realize that you have focused your energy on dangerous behaviors.
How to Accept an Addiction Diagnosis
Dealing with your diagnosis may be difficult because it requires you to be fully present. Escape is what drew you to drugs or alcohol, and hearing your formal diagnosis may be problematic. While hearing from others that you have an addiction may be a shock, it is important to immerse yourself in the words you hear truly. Listen to their experiences of their interactions with you while you were under the influence. Understand that your addiction has negatively impacted others.
Pushing back against information because you don’t want to hear it or because you don’t like what you hear is a waste of time. An intervention and a diagnosis are clear proof that you have a dangerous disorder. Acceptance is an important step in dealing with your diagnosis. Accept and truly listen to what your physician is saying. Take their advice and begin treatment.
It is important to accept help from others. Trying to justify addiction behaviors or excessive drug or alcohol use can lead to more issues with quitting. Also, it may cause bigger rifts in your relationships. Try not to focus on the negative behaviors you may have exhibited in the past, but rather, let it lead you to make big changes in your life and the lives of others.
Changing Your Thinking
The biggest step you can take to deal with your diagnosis is to understand that substance addiction relies on your thinking. To begin to take the next steps, it is important to change your thought processing.
The thinking patterns you possessed when you were using were most likely rooted in avoidance, negativity, despair, destructive anger, and fear. If your mind stays in that mode after your diagnosis, you run the risk of reverting back to drug or alcohol use. Acceptance of your diagnosis can be taken a step further by not reacting negatively, but to ask, what can be done to change this? The possibilities are limitless.
Reach Out to Westwind Recovery® Today
Instead of turning to drugs or alcohol, turn to others for help instead. Choose a primary treatment program that matches your needs. After withdrawal and detox, find a sober living home and commit to maintaining your sobriety. Work with a therapist, sponsor, or recovering peers to find peace and healing.