The word “addiction” is thrown around for a lot of things. I’m addicted to my phone. My child is addicted to video games. But when it comes to substance use, how can you know when a habit has become harmful?
What is addiction?
The American Psychiatric Association defines substance use disorder, a form of addiction, as “a complex condition in which there is uncontrolled use of a substance despite harmful consequence.” There are many psychological, physical, and social signs of addiction, but the most drastic difference is the ability of a substance to negatively impact a person’s quality of life.
When is substance use just recreational?
Using a substance like alcohol recreationally means it is a balanced part of someone’s life. With full control over themselves and the substance, a person can enjoy a drink or two when out with friends, but the consumption of the substance isn’t compulsive or regularly excessive.
When is substance use addiction?
Use of a substance begins to classify as substance use disorder when it has significant negative impacts on quality of life, creates cravings, and results in a loss of control over use or behavior.
A person with substance use disorder may find it difficult to control impulses, begins accommodating their life for their substance of choice, and engages in risky behaviors. These problematic patterns associated with substance use mean it may be time to reach out for help.
If you recognize signs of addiction in your life, judgment-free help is available. The first steps can be the hardest, but the team at Valley Oaks Health will be with you until recovery is possible.
If you notice a loved one suffering from addiction, it is important to reach out with love and compassion. When you’re ready for that tough conversation, resources are available.