It’s an unfortunate reality that of the 20-plus million Americans battling substance addiction today, only 10 percent will receive any type of treatment. Only a fraction of those treated will receive treatment at a clinical rehab facility. Usually, people do not pursue professional treatment because they are not ready to stop using, or not ready to admit that a problem exists. Some do not know when to go to rehab, and many think that it’s just too soon or too early to seek out professional help.
Many people feel as though they need to hit “rock bottom” before checking into rehab. Many feel as though they need to be physically addicted to hard drugs to get help – we’re talking heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, because some think prescription drug addiction just isn’t reason enough. Many people ask themselves, “I know that I’m addicted, but is my addiction bad enough to warrant professional treatment?” This thinking is all wrong.
Here’s the truth: It is never too early to seek out drug treatment. There is not a single, right time to go to rehab, nor is there a single reason or way. If drug or alcohol abuse (in any form) is causing negative effects in your life – whether those be physical, financial, mental, familial, or even legal effects – you can benefit from a rehab program.
If you are wondering when to go to rehab, or even when to intervene, it’s likely the right time is now. But if you are still unsure, there are certain tell-tale signs that can serve as the green light.
- The person is experiencing withdrawal symptoms. When a person uses drugs for a repeated time, their body becomes reliant on drugs. Their brain believes it needs the drugs to function normally, and without that fuel, it goes into a withdrawal mode. Withdrawal is the “low point” or “crash” after the drugs wear off – it often comes with painful symptoms such as vomiting, restlessness, depression, seizures, night sweats, and muscle aches. If you or a loved one experiences withdrawal in any form, it is a sign that a bigger drug problem exists.
- They are also withdrawing from friends, family members, and once-loved activities. In addition to physical withdrawal, a person who is addicted will eventually withdraw from family, friends, and hobbies that they once loved. They may isolate themselves in their room, get irritated or defensive in everyday conversations, and avoid those that were once closest to them. They may also change friend groups.
- The drug use has consumed them. One of the most significant signs of addiction is when drug abuse becomes the priority. The person’s time is spent seeking out the drug, using the drug, and later recovering from the drug use. Sometimes, this involves going to multiple doctors to get a prescription, or going to great and dangerous lengths to buy drugs. And in return, school, work, or other obligations often get de-prioritized.
- The person’s health is suffering. Drugs and alcohol take a toll on a person – mentally, physically, and emotionally. If you or your loved one’s health is debilitating in the face of drugs, it is time to get professional help. Substance abuse can trigger a myriad of negative health effects, including decreased liver function, respiratory depression, kidney failure, and mental illness. A rehab center provides 24/7 watchful care and clinical treatment to get a person’s health back on track.
- Drug or alcohol abuse has gotten them in trouble. If drug abuse has gotten you or a loved one in trouble in any form – legally, socially, academically, or even at work – it can be a sign it’s time for rehab. Often, when a drug problem gets a person in trouble with the law or other authority, rehab is posed as an alternative to punishment.
- They tried to quit (maybe multiple times), but weren’t able to stop using. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease. Perhaps you or your loved one has tried to stop using drugs alone, or tried to cut back on the drug use and were unsuccessful. This is a normal sign of addiction. When a person is physically addicted to the substance, they cannot simply stop using overnight or “cut back” despite the desire. Professional treatment and detox is needed at this point.
- They have denied or lied about their substance use. Often, people who are addicted to drugs will use lies to cover up their drug problem. They build walls in efforts to hide their ongoing drug use. If you have lied, or have been lied to, about drug abuse, that indicates a need for help.
It can be difficult to recognize when recreational drug use and experimentation (especially in growing teens and young adults) has become something more concerning. It can be hard to know what addiction looks like, or feels like, at all. And, it can be even more difficult to choose a time – let alone the right time – to do something about it. By knowing the key signs of drug addiction, you can better understand the severity of your (or your loved one’s) drug problem. Clinicians often use these indicators to determine whether an addiction is mild, moderate, or severe.
- Compulsive cravings, irrational decision-making, and lack of self-control
- A desire to quit exists, but the person is unable to do so
- Most of their time is spent trying to obtain, use, and/or recover from drugs
- Loss of interest in once-loved people and hobbies
- High tolerance to drugs, and increased dosages (or frequency of use) to achieve the same, mind-altering effects
- Withdrawal symptoms when not using drugs
- Problems with relationships and other responsibilities, like work and school
- Co-occurring mental illness alongside substance abuse
Keep in mind that there is always risk with addiction, and left unaddressed, it can always get worse. Overdose is always possible, no matter how moderate or mild the drug addiction is, and it does not discriminate. We weren’t lying when we said that it is never too early to go to rehab. However, there can come a time when it is simply too late.
Substance addiction (formally known as a substance use disorder) is a chronic, complex disease – much like asthma, hypertension, and diabetes. However, similar to these other diseases, addiction is very manageable and treatable, with the right plan and resources in place. If you or your loved one is showing any of signs of addiction, it is critical to intervene. Drug treatment works, and it can work for you. Contact Turnbridge at 877-581-1793 to learn about our teen and young adult rehab programs.