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time posted
Jan 17, 2022

When to Seek Addiction Counselling


When it comes to substance use and addiction, it can be tough to acknowledge that you may have an issue – or, even while you might be self-aware, you might be asking yourself, “how can anyone else help me?”.

The fact is, according to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only 10 percent of those struggling with substance abuse receive effective, long-lasting help. On top of this, many people decide not to seek help at all, as they don’t yet believe the problem is ‘bad enough’. However, more often than not, if you’re questioning whether or not you need help getting sober, you probably do.

If substance abuse is causing adverse effects in your life, it may be time to take a closer look at your habits and patterns. By educating yourself on addiction and substance abuse treatment, you’re already one step closer to taking back control of your life again.

Understanding the Severity of Addiction

Addiction is generally diagnosed on a spectrum of mild, moderate, or severe. The following 11 criteria can help you get a better understanding of where your or a loved one’s addiction is currently at.

  • Feeling out of control
  • Having a desire to quit but feeling unable to
  • Spending a lot of time searching for the substance
  • Cravings
  • Lack of responsibility
  • Issues with interpersonal relationships
  • Loss of interest
  • Dangerous usage
  • Increased tolerance or need
  • Withdrawal

The severity of an addiction is determined by how many of the criteria are met - for example, if 2 or 3 of the criteria listed apply, you may qualify for a mild substance use disorder. A mental health professional, such as a substance abuse counsellor, can help you determine exactly where you lie on the spectrum.

A Few Signs You May Need Treatment

There are several telltale signs to determine if your substance use has gotten out of your control or if you need help. You may want to begin looking for a drug treatment program if you recognize the following signs in yourself.

Drug use has become your main priority

This is one of the common signs of addiction: your daily responsibilities and activities you used to enjoy have taken a backseat to drug use. If you find that you’ve been spending an increased amount of time, energy, and resources trying to acquire and use a substance, you may have a problem, and can likely benefit from starting an addiction treatment program.

Your health is suffering

Addiction is associated with a variety of health effects - for example, alcohol addiction, in particular, is linked to long-term liver problems and various types of cancer.

Continued use can ultimately take a toll on your body and mind, causing a range of physical and mental health symptoms.

  • Physical health: The physical consequences of drug abuse can range from mild to fatal, depending on factors such as how long you have been taking the drug, the amount taken, and the type of drug.
  • Mental health: Most drugs cause changes to your mental state in some way or another. This most often presents as increased symptoms of anxiety, depression, and in some cases, psychosis. If you or those close to you start noticing unusual changes in the way you think, feel, or behave, you may need treatment.

You take an excessive amount to achieve the desired effect

When you first take a substance, your body and mind aren’t yet accustomed to its effects - this is often the reason why the first high feels best. You are not yet used to the effects, and so you feel them intensely. Over time, however, your body starts to adapt, and slowly builds a tolerance. As your tolerance increases, your body begins to need more of the drug to produce the same outcomes.

You’ve tried to quit on your own but haven’t been successful

Addiction is a condition marked by periods of recovery and relapse; it’s not uncommon for people to try and find new ways to end their substance use on their own. If your past efforts haven’t been successful, you may benefit from addiction counselling services. Treatment can provide the commitment, structure, healing, and focus needed to get your life back on track.

Finding Help for Substance Abuse

Addiction is a disabling and powerful force, but you don’t need to hit rock bottom to ask for help. If you believe your substance abuse is getting out of hand, remember: it’s never too late to get the treatment you deserve.

If you recognize some of these signs in yourself or a loved one, the next step may be to confront the addiction head-on with an intervention - an addict may not realize that they have a problem, or, their rational thinking may be impacted by their addiction.

Ultimately, the sooner you can recognize the signs of a substance abuse problem, the more likely you are to overcome it.

If you are looking for addiction counselling in Calgary, contact us at One Life today to get connected with a psychologist that can help. We provide Calgary residents with online counselling and in-person services.

I am the founder of One Life Counselling and Coaching LTD and I am honored to lead a team of professional psychologists, psychotherapist’s and life coaches who dedicate their professional lives to helping people to elevate their mindsets, evolve their beliefs and learn to thrive in the present moment.
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