Addiction: 7 Signs That Your “Recreational Use” Has Become “Abuse”

Addiction is a terrible disease, yet not always an obvious one.

At least, this can be true for the person who is struggling with substance abuse.

What started out as a simple and perhaps carefree recreational use has now become a serious problem that has a dangerous impact on your life.

What may signal that you have taken it too far?

Signs Your Substance Use is More Than Recreational

1. Increasing quantity

When you first indulged in the occasional glass of wine at a party or beer after work, it was easy to categorize it as recreational use. You were just unwinding after a long day at work and wanting to socialize, right? Plus, the alcohol helped you to relax.

Now, you drink much more, perhaps even daily. In fact, you drink so much that you pass out or “black out.” Binge drinking is part of your life.

According to the U.S. Government defines binge drinking as:

  • Having five or more drinks for women or four for women
  • Those drinks occurring within the same general time frame
  • Having at least 1-5 days per month of consuming that much alcohol

Keep in mind that these changes in drinking patterns can happen over long periods of time and, therefore, not be strikingly obvious.

2. Spending a lot of money on substances

Another sign that your recreational use has morphed into substance abuse is how you spend your money.

At first, it wasn’t a problem, but over time a greater portion of your paycheck is going to substance use. This can be especially true if you are using hard drugs, which can drain your finances as you get more of the drug you “need.”

In fact, you may have found yourself committing crimes so that you can have the money to get drugs or alcohol.

3. Risky behavior

Committing crimes, such as stealing, is just one of many risky behaviors that indicate you have an addiction.

Others may be:

  • Driving while under the influence
  • Using needles for injectable drugs
  • Making rash decisions

The result of these actions is that you put your life, and the lives of others, at risk. This includes even family and friends.

4. Hurting those you love

You don’t realize it in the moment, but your actions are hurting those who care for you. Their safety can even be in jeopardy if you are driving a car or get into a physical argument with them. Or, you choose to steal money or valuables from them in order to obtain drugs or alcohol.

All of these actions create fear, mistrust, and anger. In turn, this damages your relationships and can cause you to become isolated from those you love.

5. Putting your children at risk

If you have children, your substance abuse can be particularly damaging to them. Addiction can bring on or exacerbate preexisting mental health problems, and often it is the children that bear the brunt of unchecked emotions.

Ultimately they can be removed from the home if it is deemed an unsafe environment for them.

6. Your primary focus changes

As you slip from recreational use to addiction your priorities change. Whereas before you had hobbies and interests, now your one consuming focus is to obtain more drugs or alcohol.

Think about it for a moment. Wasn’t there a time when you enjoyed playing a sport, engaging in a craft, playing a musical instrument, or having some kind of passion in your life? What happened?

7. You can’t live without the substance

Perhaps the greatest sign of addiction is when you decide that substance becomes something you can’t live without. If you don’t or can’t use, you don’t feel “normal.”

Yet, there was a time when you were normal but not using. Doesn’t that make a red flag go up in your mind?

Sadly, substance abuse is a problem that affects millions of Americans. However, the journey from recreational use to full-on substance abuse is not always obvious or dramatic. It can take time, even a lifetime, to realize what’s happening. Yet, when you do make sure to get the help you need.

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