The staff at Myers Counseling Group hope you enjoyed your summer. We are offering our series on substance abuse to our viewing community. Our first article is : “How To Determine If You Have a Substance Abuse Problem.” The remaining topic’s include: “Helping Children Cope With Their Parents Drug or Alcohol Problem”, Addressing Your Teenagers Substance Abuse”, and “Tools for Abstaining from Drug or Alcohol Problems.”

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go. “

Hermann Hesse

How To Determine If You Have A Substance Abuse Problem

Substance abuse is a complicated topic to address. What is problematic for one individual may not be for another. Identifying it as a problem lends itself, to some degree, to subjective interpretation. If there are two or more parties involved, this lends itself to subjectivity from all parties. To further complicate matters, abusers do not want to give up their use. Most enjoy the using experience for whatever purposes it derives, and are reluctant to give it up. The part that enjoys use, wants to convince the other half everything is okay. Deceptive messages about the impact of use are presented, not only to the outside world, but to users themselves.
When we are determining the extent of a problem, it is not just based on quantity of use, but quality as well (quality of life). An individual could drink only four times a year and have more problems than someone who drinks daily. Outside factors, such as family, employment, law enforcement, friends, or health care providers, could help determine the extent of the problem.

The first step in assessing the problem is asking the right questions. The best way to determine if you have a problem is looking at your life areas. Is your use creating problems at home? Do arguments with family center around your use? Have family members expressed concern about your use? Do you lose time from work due to your use? Are you violating your employment substance abuse policy and risking sanctions? Has your use affected your performance at work. Has any health care provider (doctor, therapist) expressed concern about your use?  Do you hide information about your use from the family doctor? Do you feel guilty because of your use? Do you hide or lie about your use? Does your use conflict with your value system? Have you experienced financial difficulties due to your use?Answering yes to even one of these could indicate a problem. This does not mean you are a drug addict or alcoholic, but should raise some serious concerns about your use. If your use is conflicting with these life areas, it certainly is a time to evaluate the benefits of your use and the costs it has on your family.