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Struggling with substance use is something thousands of people worldwide battle every day. Substance use and substance dependence is something people often look down upon and consider to be a trait of a bad person. However, suffering from drug and alcohol dependence does not mean you are not good.

Drug and alcohol dependence is something nearly uncontrollable. It is highly chemical and relies upon different genes and chemicals in your body working at different rates. While drug and alcohol dependence may not be something that you are in control of, it is something that you can take control of.

Taking control of drug and alcohol dependence is no easy task. It is difficult and takes time, energy, focus, and resilience. However, once you can take ownership and own your drug and alcohol dependence, you can control your life again.

Drug and alcohol dependence and substance use disorders typically override a person’s life, driving their finances into the ground, cutting off relationships, and destroying their mental and physical health. Substance abuse disorders are all-consuming, making your life miserable while also making your life livable.

Many people’s dependency on drugs or alcohol allows them to continue living because it numbs the pain of whatever they try to hide from, whether anxiety, depression, or unhappiness. This, called self-medication, is a driving force in substance dependencies.

Just as you can self-medicate in a negative way using drugs and alcohol, you can medicate yourself in the best way possible: owning your life and taking the reins of your future away from substances.

Please continue reading if you are struggling with drug or alcohol dependency and want to take your life back from the substances. Here, we will discuss whether you are struggling with a drug or alcohol dependency, the withdrawal symptoms, and timeline of detoxing from different substances, the benefits of reaching out for help, and how to get help.

How To Know if There is Drug or Alcohol Dependence at Play

The first and most important part of identifying drug and alcohol dependence is identifying whether you are suffering from a drug or alcohol dependency. There are particular signs and symptoms of substance dependency that you can look for in your life or the life of a loved one to see if there may be a drug or alcohol dependence.

Typically, it is very difficult for people to realize that they have become dependent on a substance, drugs or alcohol. Many people view the situation as temporary because they are dealing with something physically or mentally demanding, so they use substances to help cope with those feelings.

Many people dealing with grief, trauma, anxiety, depression, mood disorders, loss, or shock will self-medicate using drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, this can quickly become a substance dependency because of the addictive nature of the substances.

Some signs of alcohol and drug dependence are:

  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Spending lots of time with people who use substances to excess
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities other than substances
  • Not caring about appearance
  • Getting into trouble at work, in school, or with the law
  • Missing classes or work events
  • Family and friends voice their concern about your substance use
  • Frequent arguments with loved ones
  • Experiencing memory “blackouts” due to substance use
  • Needing substances to relax
  • Bringing substances to events where they are not needed
  • Keeping your substance use a secret from loved ones
  • Needing more of the substances to achieve the same sensation

These signs indicate that you may suffer from drug or alcohol dependence.

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Identifying a Drug or Alcohol Dependence in a Loved One

If you feel concerned that a loved one is experiencing a drug or alcohol dependence, please continue to read the section. Often, family or friends are the first to recognize that a person in their life is suffering from a substance problem. In addition, friends and family are typically able to pick up on my new changes in behavior, such as increased hostility, exhaustion, or altered behavior. 

Asking the person you are concerned about immediately if they have an alcohol or drug problem seems the best way to go. However, it can be jarring and make the person closed off. They may feel threatened or criticized or think you are out to get them.

It’s right to remind the person that you are looking out for their best interest and that you care about them. Then, try to have them open up and explain what is happening in their life. Make sure that you are attentive, reflecting on what they are saying to them, and being honest about how you feel about their substance use.

Do not make it an attack; rather, be gentle and introduce the topic with concern and care.

Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline When Detoxing From Drugs Or Alcohol Dependency

The withdrawal symptoms and timeline for detoxing from drugs and alcohol differ from substance to substance. Depending on the type of drug the person was taking, how long they were taking it, and the amount they used to take, withdrawal can look different for each case.

For example, someone who took hard drugs such as heroin or cocaine for several years several times a day and in high amounts will have a much more intense withdrawal experience. Likewise, a person who consumes more drugs for a longer time will have a worse withdrawal experience than someone who took fewer drugs for a shorter time.

In addition, the substance that the person was taking has a huge effect on the withdrawal timeline and symptoms. For example, stimulants and opioids tend to have longer withdrawals, while opioids have more intense and unpleasant symptoms. Other drugs like marijuana typically have withdrawal symptoms and tie lines similar to cigarettes or nicotine products.

Alcohol withdrawal differs from drug withdrawal, yet it is also very similar. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are the same no matter what type of alcohol is being consumed, as long as enough of it was consumed for an extended time to create a dependency.

Alcohol withdrawal will typically be in about 6 hours after you stop drinking. This will include anxiety, nausea, vomiting, sweating, headaches or migraines, sleeplessness, and tremors. More serious symptoms will arise in the next 12 hours to 2 days, including hallucinations and seizures.

After three days, the symptoms will usually stop. However, some people experience high blood pressure, fever, excessive sweating, and confusion.

Benefits of Getting Help For a Drug or Alcohol Dependence

Getting help when struggling with an alcohol or drug dependence is incredibly important. Not only can it change the course of your life for the better, but it can save your life. Drugs and alcohol take thousands of lives yearly, and if you can prevent yourself from becoming another statistic, you must.

The benefits of getting help for a drug or alcohol dependence include getting your life back, increasing your financial stability, repairing relationships with loved ones and romantic partners, gaining back mental clarity, reducing anxiety and depression, and so much more.

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Your physical and mental health will improve once you stop using substances, even if you use substances to cope with mental disorders. Once substances are out of your body, you can think clearly and make rational decisions about handling your life.

It can allow you to get into therapy which can help with mental disorders and other mental issues. In addition, getting away from substances can help you get better at your job and improve your work ethic. It will also make you feel better about your life because you are now in control of your future.

How to Get Help if Struggling With Drug or Alcohol Dependence

If you are struggling with alcohol or drug dependence, there are ways to get help. Relying on close friends and relatives is a great way to create a support group that can cheer you on through your recovery. They can also help keep you on track during a treatment plan or provide a shoulder to lean on when times get rough.

Another important system you should rely on while beginning your fight against drug or alcohol dependency is treatment facilities, such as detox centers or rehabilitation centers. These centers are designed to treat each person who walks through those doors individually.

Not only are treatment centers the best place to deal with withdrawal symptoms and detoxification, but the professional staff and drug counselors available can help you identify the causes of your dependence on substances.

Dealing with the root cause of why substances took control of your life is difficult. However, with the right staff by your side, you can become so much happier and so much healthier.

Get started on your path to a happier and healthier you at Infinite Recovery. You deserve a life full of freedom from drugs and substances, and we hope you get in touch with us soon.

Sources:

Infinite Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial guidelines and medical review policy.

1. Better Health Channel. Alcohol and drugs – dependence and addiction – Better Health Channel. Accessed July 26, 2022. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/servicesandsupport/alcohol-and-drugs–dependence-and-addiction

Amanda Stevens, BS

Medical Content Writer

Amanda Stevens, BS

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Ocean Recovery, Ascendant NY, The Heights Treatment, Epiphany Wellness, New Waters Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed July 27, 2022

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