Have you ever wanted to get lost in a bottle? Whether it's a bottle of pills or alcohol have you ever wanted to crawl inside that bottle and get lost for a little while? Maybe your choice is a toke, a line, or joint instead, but have you ever just wanted to get lost?
Do you or have you ever abused substances in the hopes of numbing your physical pain or your emotional pain? What about your mental pain? Do you seek relief in the form of one substance or another to relieve your pain? Be honest please. Do you abuse substances in the hopes of finding relief even if for only a little while? Has your health, home-life, and/or employment been affected by your substance use? Deep and heavy personal questions I know, but please give them some thought.
Understanding the impact and role substance use and/or abuse has had within your life may be difficult, but it's something that can be done. I hope the following will help you to begin taking the steps you need for you moving forward. There are other options...will you explore them?
The definition of substance abuse as taken from Random House Unabridged Dictionary..."long-term, pathological use of alcohol or drugs, characterized by daily intoxication, inability to reduce consumption, and impairment in social or occupational functioning; broadly, alcohol or drug addiction"
Further research suggests that....
"Substance abuse also known as drug abuse is a patterned use of a substance (drug) in which the user consumes the substance in amounts or with methods which are harmful to themselves or others. The exact cause of substance abuse is impossible to know because there is not just one direct cause. However substance abuse and addiction is known to run in families.
One theory suggests there is a genetic disposition which predisposes certain individuals toward substance abuse. Another suggests substance abuse is learned there for people subjected to substance abuse by those around them begin to copy the same behaviors. Substance abuse might start out as a bad habit but when and if addiction develops it manifests as a chronic debilitating disease.
Further....Substance dependence occurs "when an individual persists in use of alcohol or other drugs despite problems related to use of the substance, substance dependence may be diagnosed. Compulsive and repetitive use may result in tolerance to the effect of the drug and withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or stopped. These, along with Substance Abuse are considered Substance Use Disorders."
With these definitions in mind...do you have a substance use...abuse...or substance dependency issue? Please be honest with yourself. It can be hard to look at our own lives with an open mind and a fresh perspective, but please give it thought....do you abuse substances?....are you dependent on your personal choice in substance? Only you know the answer.
Motivations behind substance abuse...
As with other self-abusive behaviours, substance abuse has a root cause in your life. Whether you are self-prescribing with your prescriptions...manipulating them as you wish, or with illegal drugs and/or alcohol... it is currently serving a purpose within your life. Before you can fully address this issue, you need to understand why. As with most self-abusive behaviours, there is often a trigger that causes us to do what we do and it serves one purpose or another...whether we realize it or not.
Would you agree that your substance use is a form of self-abuse? If you are using substances as a way to cope, avoid, and/or to manage your feelings and it brings a level of comfort, relief and release from your life...you are engaging in self-abusive behaviours.
Please give thought to your own life and choice of substance. It can be an eye opening experience when we consider our own behaviours from a different perspective. Often we can't see beyond what is bringing us to the bottle...all we can focus on is the relief that will come when we do what we do to make it go away.
Now I have question for you...is hiding in a bottle of one substance or another, solving the problem? Is the problem you're running way from going away? Chances are it isn't. Chances are it's only getting worse which is making the run to the bottle happen more and more. Sound familiar to you?
I've been there...and the blissful fog can be a trip! But the crash out of the clouds hurts like hell doesn't it? I know it's blunt but it's true...and when the crash finally comes...how quickly do you go seeking the relief again? It's a vicious circle but one that you can gain not only an understanding of…but control over.
Signs of substance abuse...
Substance abuse comes in many forms. Many people don't know it but they are probably abusing substances right now. It's very easy to do so please don't feel bad. With more information, maybe we can change that. Just because it's prescribed don't mean it can't be abused, and just because it can be found on a most store shelves...doesn't mean it can't be abused either.
Signs of a substance abuse problem (note: not a complete list)
- have you ever "borrowed" or "stolen" someone's prescription?
- have you ever taken your prescription in ways than otherwise intended or prescribed?
- have you ever taken more medication than what is prescribed to help you "feel better" or to "cope"?
- do thoughts of having the next drink, pill, joint, or line consume your day?
- do you black out from your use of substances and/or alcohol?
- do you miss work on a regular or semi-regular basis because of your substance abuse?
- are you having problems paying the bills because the next "fix" is more important?
- would rather spend time with your choice of substance than with your friends and family
If the above looks familiar to you, you may be experiencing a substance abuse or substance dependency problem. Although the above questions are not the only things to consider when deciding if you may or may not have a substance abuse or dependency problem, you know your life better than anyone else... what do your signs look like?
Maybe what you're doing isn't listed, so I challenge you to give careful consideration to what motivates you to turn to your choice substance for relief. What signs do you see within your life that you may have a substance problem?
If you don't address this issue it will only continue to impact your employ-ability, making it increasingly difficult to find and/or maintain a job. Your health will continue to decline and your family life will continue to be affected by the substance abuse. It is a vicious cycle that is difficult to break, but one that can be broken if you are willing to acknowledge you have a problem, learn new coping skills to replace old habits, and work hard at learning about what brought to the substance in the first place.
Changing and stopping substance abuse behaviours...
An important key to changing this behaviour is to catch yourself before you begin using. Now this may be tricky because it's so ingrained in your psyche right now. Your substance use behaviours are a part of who you are... they are your coping skills at the moment and you use them to survive. Sound familiar?
Do you turn to your substance of choice as a way of surviving your physical pain?...your emotional pain?...what about your mental pain? Give it thought...why do you turn to this substance? What are you hoping to avoid by getting lost in your substance? Before you can stop this behaviour you need to understand what purpose it serves in your life...ask yourself a tough question and answer the reason why? The more you can understand the "why"...the more you can steps to changing this for your life moving forward.
Another key to stopping this cycle of behaviour is to change the personal thought statements that you have going through your head when you are using...you know the ones I mean...that's right! ..those ones! What are you saying and thinking to yourself before you start using? How about when you're using? Those thoughts need to be gone!...banished! To be replaced with positive and encouraging thoughts about yourself...thoughts that will bring you out of the negativity and need for the substance. What do you say to yourself when you're using? How do you talk to you? What do you think you need and why?
Start setting boundaries for yourself. When you feel your emotions or anxieties growing out of control, manage them with calming techniques that will bring you down from the emotions safely and without reaching for the substance. Calming techniques such as relaxation or meditation, soothing your senses, and positive self scripts..."I can do this", "I'm safe", "I'm strong enough to handle this without needing a "drink""...are some ideas to get you started...fill in "drink" with whatever your choice substance is okay?
Turn to your family and friends. Let them know what's going on and ask them for help in stopping. If you are aware of your triggers share them with your personal support system. Sometimes just talking about what is bothering us can help. When you are thinking of using, reaching out for help can be hard...but it's important to take the steps to ask for help instead.
Your family doctor is another good resource and it's important that you have an open line of communication with him/her and/or with your treatment team. There is help available and you may need a referral from your doctor to see a counsellor when the time is right, so open the lines of communication. Your doctor won't think any less of you for struggling and they just might be able to help...so take it okay?
There are also support groups like A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) or N.A. (Narcotics Anonymous), as well as confidential crisis lines and on-line supports available when you're ready...explore your support and treatment options and find the one best suited for your life moving forward.
Although most self-abusive behaviours are not considered to be done with suicidal intent, the constant use of alcohol and/or other substances can become life threatening and could cause damaging health effects to our bodies.
As you start working this and challenging why you do what you do, I hope you will find this gets easier as you learn other ways to deal with the feelings that cause you to turn your substance of choice without causing further harm to you.
There are other ways to manage what drives you to the substance and there are options to over come it too...will you take the steps for you moving forward? You are worth the effort and so are those you share your life with.
Take good care of you okay?