Am I Addicted?
Two important Questions

How do I know?

It is sometimes difficult to know whether you became dependant on or addicted to something. It is easy to deny it to yourself and to others, and sometimes for a long time denying seems like the best way forward. There are many “tests” to help you to determine whether you are addicted or dependant. I usually do not make use of tests to establish dependence. For me there are two very important questions to answer. The answers to these two questions are crucial in the decision of whether you have to do with dependence or addiction.

The first of the two questions is: Do you engage in the action (taking drugs or alcohol, watching pornography, or gamble for example) despite the negative consequences that follow? If you answer yes, the second question would be: What does it say about this behaviour that you deem this behaviour as more important than your relationship with your spouse or family, or more important than a healthy financial position, or as your work or your health or self-esteem? Is it not possible that this behaviour became much too important? Is it not possible that you have lost the ability to stop this behaviour? If you continue with this damaging behaviour, is it not because you have lost control over this conduct?

We can conclude with the definition that an addiction is an unhealthy relationship with drugs or alcohol (or behaviour like gambling or pornography) in which you use more than you would like to use, and you continue to use despite the negative impact on the quality of your life.

A Medical Definition of Addiction

An addiction must meet at least three of the following criteria. This is based on the criteria of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-IV) and World Health Organization (ICD-10).

  • Tolerance: Do you use more alcohol or drugs (or engage more in the activity) over time?
  • Withdrawal: Have you experienced physical or emotional withdrawal when you have stopped using? Have you experienced anxiety, irritability, shakes, sweats, nausea, or vomiting?
  • Emotional withdrawal is just as significant as physical withdrawal.
  • Diminished control: Do you sometimes drink or use drugs more than you would like to? Do you sometimes drink to get drunk? Does one drink lead to more drinks sometimes? Do you ever regret how much you have used the day before?
  • Negative consequences: Have you continued to use even though there have been negative consequences to your mood, self-esteem, health, job, relationship(s) or family?
  • Neglected or postponed activities: Have you ever put off or reduced social, recreational, work, or household activities because of your use or engagement?
  • Significant time or energy spent: Have you spent a significant amount of time obtaining, using, concealing, planning, or recovering from your use? Have you spent a lot of time thinking about using? Have you ever concealed or minimized your use or activities? Have you ever thought of schemes to avoid getting caught?
  • The desire to cut down: Have you sometimes thought about cutting down or controlling your use? Have you ever made unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control your use?

I might be addicted. What now?

Seek help. You are not alone in this. There are many people out there that are going through the same thing. There are many people out there that would still respect you if they know. This behaviour does not define you totally, it is but an aspect of your life. Help is available. Addictions have been overcome before. You can do it too. Admit that you have a problem. Seek help. Contact a professional.

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