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July 2021 | Cenikor Foundation

How Much Is Too Much? When to Seek Addiction Help

Sometimes the line between enjoyment and addiction can be very fuzzy, especially in our culture that promotes alcohol to remedy everything from joy to stress and sadness. You may think to yourself, “Everyone drinks this much,” or “If I can stop when I want, it’s not an addiction.” But how do you know if you’ve crossed over that line and it’s time to get help?

Experts have defined eleven official criteria that determine if you have an addiction or not. Read on to learn more and get addiction help if you need to.

Lack of Control 

One of the first signs that you’ve become addicted to a substance is losing control when you use it. Whether your addiction is drinking, drugs, gambling, or Pringles, you find that once you start, you can’t stop. You have a hard time saying no when the temptation arises, and you never indulge just a little.

Do you frequently start an evening only intending to drink a little and wind up blackout drunk before you go to bed? Do you feel like you could be around other people gambling and not gamble yourself? Have you found yourself using drugs without even stopping to think, not sure anymore why you’re doing it?

Inability to Quit

Of course, one of the defining characteristics of addiction is that you can’t easily quit your drug of choice. Many of us enjoy having a drink or two at the end of a long week at work. But what happens if you tell yourself you’re going to stop drinking for a specific period of time?

Many addicts think they can quit any time they want until they’re actually faced with that necessity. If you think you may be addicted to something, try avoiding it for two weeks. If you can’t make it through the month without indulging, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship with the substance you use.

Time Investment

When it comes right down to it, your priorities in life are determined by how much time you spend on different things. While this truth often applies to work, family, or friends, it also applies to addiction. The more time you spend on your habit, the more likely it is that it’s an addiction.

It’s important to note that spending time on your addiction doesn’t just include the time you spend actually using. It can also include all the time you spend thinking about how to indulge your addiction. You may think all day about what you’re going to drink that night, plan how you’ll hide your substance use from your loved ones, or daydream about using during work hours.


Cravings often go hand in hand with the time you spend thinking about your addiction. It’s normal to think about wanting a drink or having a good time now and then. But cravings go beyond a simple thought and into a powerful force that distracts you during your day and that you can’t seem to shake.

You may notice that you’re on edge and irritated until you give in and satisfy your craving. You might feel some physical effects, such as shaking, fatigue, or sweatiness. A craving is a physical need that can leave you almost unhinged the longer you go without indulging your addiction.

Lack of Responsibility

In the face of such powerful cravings and loss of control, you might start to notice your responsibilities falling by the wayside. Before your addiction began, you never would have considered skipping out on work, school, or important family events. You paid your bills every month, showed up for your family, and stayed on the right side of the law.

Once your addiction begins to take over, those responsibilities may not seem so important anymore. You may find yourself skipping work more often, especially to indulge your addiction. You may start playing fast and loose with money and even considering committing crimes to get your hands on your substance.

Problems with Relationships

It should come as no surprise that all of the criteria we’ve discussed so far can cause problems in your personal relationships. Your family will notice that you’re changing, and they may even feel the impact of your reckless behavior. Your boss and coworkers will see that work isn’t a top priority for you anymore and may resent having to pick up the slack.

If you have a romantic partner, you might notice that you’re fighting more often or that your relationship seems more distant. Your friends may start to withdraw from you or may ask you to stop using. You may find yourself in trouble at work more frequently, and you might even lose your job.

Loss of Interest

As your addiction gains more of a grip over your life, you may notice your interest in other things fading away. Before you started using, you might have enjoyed spending time with your family, going to sporting events, volunteering in your community, or making art. Maybe you went for runs, watched every movie Kevin Costner was ever in or sang in your local church choir.

But as you begin to use more and more, those things may fade away. All you can think about is your addiction, feeding it, and hiding it from the people in your life. You may not feel the same level of passion for your hobbies as before, and you might have trouble getting interested in trying new hobbies.

Dangerous Use

When it comes to drinking and gambling, there’s always some low level of risk involved. And before your addiction began, you may have managed those risks well. You might have set aside money to gamble with or made sure you had a designated driver available for nights when you would be drinking.

But the more your addiction grows, the more likely you are to make dangerous choices when you’re using. You may drive when you’re drunk or overdose on the drug you’re using. You might start to gamble money that was set aside for your mortgage or even resort to dangerous lifestyle choices to indulge your addiction.

Physical Problems

It may come as no surprise that drinking or using drugs too much can take a serious toll on your body. If you overdose or get alcohol poisoning, you may land in the hospital with some acute problems. And withdrawal symptoms can wreak all sorts of havoc on your body’s major systems.

But in addition to the more immediate physical problems, substance abuse can have serious long-term consequences. Drinking or using drugs can cause everything from heart and liver problems to seizures and psychological disorders. Even gambling can cause depression, sleep deprivation, and anxiety.


As you use your substance more and more, you might notice that it takes more for you to feel a “high.” If you’re using drugs, this high may be literal; if you’re gambling, you may have to spend more money to get the same rush. If you’re drinking, you may have to drink more or harder liquor to feel drunk.

Over time, your body will build up a tolerance for whatever substance you’re using. While some degree of this is natural, especially with drinking alcohol, an excess can be an indicator that you’re using too much too often. If you have to drink six beers to feel a buzz, you probably have an addiction.


The final criteria used to determine if someone is an addict is if they go through withdrawal. Withdrawal is related to the physiological dependence your body has on the substance you use. When you go too long without it, your major systems can be thrown into disarray as your body fights to adjust to the change.

Withdrawal can be hazardous and can start within a matter of hours after you stop using. You may experience convulsions, fevers, vomiting, chills, and body aches. If you plan to quit using, make sure you seek medical help to see you safely through withdrawal.

Get Addiction Help

No one wants to admit they have an addiction, but if the criteria we’ve listed here sound familiar, it may be time to admit you have a problem. These are the signs doctors and medical professionals look for to define when someone is an addict. Once you admit that you have an addiction, you can start getting the help you need.

If you’d like to get addiction help today, check out the rest of our site at Cenikor. We are a place for change working to create better health and better lives. Contact us today and start getting the help you need, knowing you are not alone fighting your addiction.


How to Tell Your Family About Your Alcohol or Drug Use

For many people, the COVID-19 pandemic increased alcohol and drug use. A June 2020 report found that 13 percent of Americans started or increased substance use.

Are you struggling with drug use? Do you want to get help but feel reluctant to admit you have a problem? Many people fear rejection by friends and family if they share their “secret”.

Making the decision to tell your loved ones about your addiction is hard. Keep reading to find strategies that have helped others take this step.

Medical Definition of Drug and Substance Abuse

Understanding what’s happening to your body can help you understand why you can’t just stop. The chemicals in the drugs change the way your mind and body works.

Depending on the substance and length of use, these changes may be permanent. But this does not mean that you’re beyond help. Today, the medical community has many treatments to help you work on sobriety.

What Are “Drugs”?

Drugs include over the counter and prescription medications, tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs. Examples of illegal substances include:

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Club drugs: Ecstasy, Molly, Special K, K, Roofies, LSD
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Inhalants: gases, aerosols, volatile solvents, nitrates
  • Marijuana
  • Methamphetamines: Ice, Speed, Meth

One of the most abused prescription medications is opioids. So, what does it mean to abuse prescription meds? Abusive behavior includes:

  • Taking someone else’s prescription
  • Taking more of the medicine than the doctor prescribed
  • Taking the drug to get high instead of for the reason it was prescribed

Another abusive behavior involves using the drug in a way that you’re not supposed to. For example, crushing a pill and then snorting or injecting it.

What Happens to the Brain with Addiction?

When you use these substances, chemical compounds enter your brain and bloodstream. This causes you to lose impulse control. The intense stimulation acts as a reward system for the brain, and it craves more.

This causes people to keep using the substance to maintain these euphoric feelings. They also crave the changes in their behavioral traits while under the influence.

The addictive brain response depends on several factors. This includes the type of drug use, frequency of use, and stage of addiction. As substance use continues, the addiction grows and can become life-threatening.

With addictive brain changes, you feel physical symptoms and develop less control. You can experience paranoia, hallucinations, fast heartbeat, nausea, and other disturbing feelings.

The addiction can cause you to become consumed with feeding your habit. Individuals lose concern for loved ones or the importance of meeting obligations. They may become unrecognizable.

Recognizing That You Have a Drug Use or Alcohol Use Problem

The first step to fighting an addiction is recognizing that you have a problem. The act of reading this article is a big step. The following list describes experiences and feelings of addiction.

  • Decreasing contact or interaction with friends and family
  • Not meeting life’s obligations such as school or work
  • Frequent stomach aches
  • Not knowing when it’s time to stop using the substance
  • Needing more of the substance to get the same feeling
  • Changes in your mood
  • Not feeling like “yourself” if you aren’t using the substance
  • Ongoing cravings for the substance
  • Using the substance excessively when you’re alone

Are you experiencing these behaviors or feelings? If so, it’s time to seriously think about telling your loved ones and asking for help.

Telling Your Family About Your Use

When you know that you have a problem, the next challenge is telling loved ones. How do I tell them? What will they think of me?

You may want to write down what you’re going to say. This helps organize your thoughts and can reduce nervousness. It also helps you remember everything you want to say.

The following guide can help you with this seemingly overwhelming task.

“Spit It Out”

This may seem odd, but often the best way to start is by not beating around the bush. Just say, “I’ve got a problem with drug use.” There’s no easy way to say this and, in fact, your family may already know.

Next, tell them that you want them to know what you’re going through. Let your loved ones know if and how you’ve tried to stop.

Be Open and Honest

In some cases, you may blame others for causing your addiction, and this may be true. But, at this moment, blame will not help you. Remember, you have decided to get help and overcome the problem.

It’s time to focus on you and take responsibility. Leading a life of addiction involves lying and taking desperate actions to get the drugs. It’s difficult to break the habit of deceit as well.

Take Pride in Your Sharing

Tell yourself that openly facing your problem makes you stronger. Be proud of your decision to share this news with your family. Remind yourself of this strength and stay committed to your goal.

Take Responsibility

Apologize for your actions that have hurt others. This shows your family that you recognize what you’ve done and that you want to change. As you go through treatment, you will spend time working on mending relationships.

Ask for Your Family’s Support

Having a supportive community is invaluable to achieving and maintaining sobriety. Directly ask your loved ones to help you. Tell them that you want their advice and guidance to make the right choices.

Discuss Treatment Plans

If you have already found a recovery treatment plan, discuss this with your family. And/or ask them to help you explore different options. Make a list of questions to ask when you contact programs.

Ask loved ones to come with you to visit facilities. This not only supports you but also demonstrates your commitment to getting better.

What If Your Family Isn’t Supportive?

All families are unique with their own interactive styles. While some families will be happy that you want help, others may not. Are you worried that sharing about your substance use will cause more strife?

Consider the following strategies to ease the situation. Start by talking to a family member that you feel closest to. This can help build your confidence, and they can suggest the best approach.

Having an ally at your side to voice support may also soften other family member’s responses. Be prepared for some loved ones to be unsupportive.

This means they won’t be part of your team, but that’s okay. They may in fact be fighting their own battles.

Don’t hold on to their rejection. Focus on your allies.

Addiction Help Programs

Depending on your unique situation and needs, there are different addiction recovery programs. The following describes some examples of treatment options available.

Short-Term Inpatient

Short-term inpatient programs offer non-emergency treatment and care. They’re designed for people with substance use or related behavioral health problems. You’ll receive an individualized, comprehensive treatment plan.

This includes an initial assessment and screening. You’ll participate in individual and group counseling and life skills training. Your family will also participate in education programs.

Outpatient Detox Programs

If you’re experiencing limited withdrawal symptoms, this program can help you. You’ll have medical care and support to ensure your comfort and safety during withdrawal.

You receive supervised outpatient detox services while you’re at home or work. A licensed medical director conducts a physical exam and oversees all treatment. They’ll prescribe medications to help with the withdrawal symptoms.

You’ll attend counseling sessions with a licensed substance use therapist. The staff will help you find and arrange to attend AA/NA support groups. They also provide discharge planning and referrals as needed.

Inpatient Detox

For individuals experiencing symptoms of active withdrawal, they’re admitted for 24-hour care. An individual treatment plan provides medical support and counseling during this critical time. This acute care manages the symptoms experienced during withdrawal.

Recovery Support Services (RSS)

RSS offers a long-term program for those who suffer from repeated relapses. These services focus on teaching individuals to overcome barriers to living in recovery.

This comprehensive program addresses physical and mental health and reuniting families. You’ll also receive help with housing, employment, education, and legal issues.

Sober Living

Sober living programs offer a safe, supportive place when you re-enter the community. For example, a men’s sober living environment acts as a bridge. You alternate between a controlled treatment setting and the “real world”.

The goal of this program is to provide structure, resources, support, and security. This is key to achieving successful first steps toward independence.

Clients must meet the rules of 30 days of sobriety. They’re also required to attend or complete outpatient treatment. Also, they must participate in local support groups and keep steady employment. The program focuses on developing personal skills to become responsible, employable citizens.

It’s Time to Take the Next Step

You have already taken one step toward fighting alcohol and drug use by reading this article. You’ve learned how to approach your family. Cenikor is ready to give you a place for change.

We strive to provide quality substance use and behavioral health services. Our comprehensive programs are available for adolescents and adults. You’ll find a compassionate staff that understands that it’s hard to ask for help.

Contact us today to learn about our programs and get help moving to a new life.

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