Substance Abuse…we may cringe at the phrase, especially when it’s applied to us, but it may be just too easy to step over the line of use vs. abuse. You start out taking strong medications to control your pain. When your body begins to adjust to the drug, it takes more and more to achieve the desired result. Soon you’re taking just a half a pill extra to get the relief you so crave…then it takes a whole tablet, then one and a half, and so on and so on, and so on.

How do you know whether you’ve got a real problem or if you’re just worrying for nothing? Some of the signs of drug addiction include:
• Increasing use of the drug – any amount greater than the prescribed
• Using the drug regularly – daily or on and off throughout the day
• Inability to stop taking the drug
• Buying the drug even when you can’t afford it
• Using the drug to cope with everyday problems
• Focusing primarily on getting and using the drug

The drugs don’t have to be illegal drugs either. It’s just as easy to get into trouble with your pain medications such as Vicodin or OxyContin. It may be over-the-counter meds such as cough syrup, or cold pills. Symptoms of a drug problem can include:
• Changes in sleep patterns
• Changes in eating habits
• Loss of interest in sex
• Neglect of personal hygiene
• Depression and not caring about the future
• Anger an irritability
• Abusive behaviors toward family and friends
• Manipulative behaviors, lying or stealing

Perhaps the biggest barrier to treatment is admitting you have a problem in the first place. The VA offers a confidential and anonymous screen to help you assess the problem. While it won’t be able to tell you for sure whether or not you need treatment for drug addiction, it can indicate whether you need to consider further assessment.

Remember that addiction doesn’t mean you’re weak or sub-human. Over time the use of drugs can cause changes in the brain which lead to a need or craving for the drug. There are treatments that will help:
• Counseling or therapy
• Detoxification
• Anit-addiction medications
• Treatment of underlying issues such as PTSD, depression, chronic pain, sleep difficulties, etc.

Take charge of your life and beat the habit; you’ll be better off if you do.


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