man thinking about getting help with alcohol abuse Washington

When Does Substance Use Become an Addiction?

There are varying degrees to using drugs and alcohol to cope with life, yet when does casual substance use become a full-blown addiction? Many teenagers will drink and take drugs socially on the weekends, and then it’s back to school on Monday morning. They may be able to stop or moderate their intake of alcohol and drugs yet using in this way always has the potential to become something more.

Full-blown alcoholics and addicts are completely unable to moderate their substance use and have actually become dependent upon it just for coping with normal daily life. They people have a mental obsession and a physical craving that compels them to keep drinking and using once they start. These individuals meet the criteria for the diagnosis of substance use disorder.

Substance Use or Addiction?

What exactly is the distinguishing feature between casual substance use and addiction? In cases of casual substance use, if you start drinking or taking drugs and run into some negative consequences, chances are that you will either slow down or stop your substance use altogether. The threat of going to jail, losing your spouse, losing your job, receiving a DUI or other legal or personal life consequences will snap most people back to reality.

But with the alcoholic and addict, these consequences have no bearing on substance intake. Even in copious amounts, no consequences are enough to make them stop using on their own because they have become dependent on the substance for functioning in normal everyday life. They are suffering from an obsession and compulsion that limits rational thinking. In general, alcohol abuse Washington occurs when normal life functioning is impaired by the substance use and the user loses control over their behavior. The DSM considers these the hallmark characteristics of substance use disorder:

  • High tolerance to the substance
  • Irrational behavior
  • Lack of control over substance use
  • Violence
  • Withdrawal symptoms occurring more frequently
  • Social impairment

These are the basic indicators that you may have a problem with drugs and alcohol. These addicted individuals are in extreme danger of failing health, depression, and possibly even death. Take a moment and be honest with yourself. If you are struggling with alcohol abuse Washington, it is time to stop the cycle of addiction and get help today.

The Science of Addiction

Addiction is a complicated matter in terms of neuroscience and psychology. In a nutshell, there are certain areas of the brain that are negatively impacted by continual substance use, actually altering the brain’s normal functioning and creating a need for the substance to be re-administered regularly. This is what we refer to as a chemical addiction.

Addicts and alcoholics actually have a different rate of metabolism in their bodies, too. Therefore, it is clear that there are some physiological differences between casual alcohol use and a full-blown alcohol addiction Washington. Usually, a person’s risky behavior will indicate that they have a problem.

Treatment for Alcohol Abuse Washington

It is always a good idea to do some research and get professional help if you or a loved one are showing any of the above signs. If alcohol and drugs are interfering with your everyday life, and you cannot stop altogether on your own, you may be an alcoholic. 

Struggling with alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder does not have to be the end of the world. If you think you have a problem, please contact us today by calling (844) 338-5046. Our compassionate team of counselors are standing by 24/7 to take your call and answer your specific questions today. Do not hesitate any longer. A life free from alcohol abuse Washington is just around the corner.