Identifying Substance Use Has Gone Too Far

Realizing your drinking and drug use has gone too far is not easy. It is often difficult to conclude that a problem exists. However, when looking back at the red flags and indicators, it becomes clear that substance use has slowly taken over your life.

The first step in identifying a substance use problem is being honest with yourself and choosing to face reality. It may not be easy to pinpoint when it began but with the right help, you can identify particular trends or life events that show how substance use is affecting your life. 

How Do I Notice My Drug and Alcohol Use Has Progressed?

When we begin to use alcohol or drugs in excess or increase use, one of the first physical symptoms is changes in sleep patterns. Overall, drug and alcohol use causes a host of different problems, but sleep patterns usually begin to change in an unhealthy way. You may notice that you are sleeping longer than usual and not feeling as rested or you may be sleeping less which can cause irritability and an inability to work and function properly. 

As drug and alcohol use progresses, eating habits can change and become unhealthy making gradual weight gain or weight loss and eating disorders common. Other signs of substance use can include poor hygiene habits, mood swings, lost interest in hobbies, and poor job performance. Sometimes these signs and symptoms of substance use happen quickly but in other cases, they show up slowly over time.

Are My Friends and Family Noticing Changes?

Friends and family are often the first to notice changes in our behavior. They may also be the first to point out your moods are changing more abruptly. You may begin to notice more anxiety, unreasonable reactions, and feeling more withdrawn when it comes to your loved ones. It is tough to admit what is happening, even after more than one person has mentioned something. It is not easy to listen to anyone offering criticism, but when friends and family have showed increased concern for your well-being, it is helpful to heed what they are saying. 

How Does My Drug Use Lead to an Addiction?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the brain wants to keep doing the things that cause enjoyment. Drug and alcohol use excite the parts of the brain that make us feel good. However, as drug use progresses, our brains become dependent on unnatural chemicals to create those feelings that we like. Soon the brain and the body require these substances to function.

When looking back at how things have progressed, there is often a clear point where drug or alcohol use became a daily part of life. However, realizing there is an addiction is not easy to accept or acknowledge. Many people struggling with addiction believe they can stop using at any time and that they don’t have a problem. Yet, all the signs of substance use and addiction are there. 

Recognizing the Signs of Drug and Alcohol Misuse Leads to Getting the Help You Need

Having friends or family intervene can give someone the extra push they need to get help. However, untill the individual has accepted that they are powerless over thier addiction can be difficult for them to recover. The first step in getting clean is admitting you have a problem and reaching out for help.

There is no single treatment is appropriate for everyone. Substance use treatment varies depending on what substances are used. For many, the most difficult part of the addiction treatment process is being patient and staying in the program for an adequate period of time. Remember that before your drug or alcohol use progressed to a point where you needed help, your family and friends were there to support you, and they are still there at this point. Realizing you have support is important because it makes getting the help you need much easier. 

The goal of substance use treatment is to bring you back to being that productive and functioning individual you once were. The average woman who enters treatment and remains with the program stops using drugs and improves their occupational, social, and psychological functioning. The entire process of getting help began when you took a step back and recognized your drinking and drug use had gone too far. Every addiction can be managed successfully, and while receiving the help you need, you begin to realize how it all happened, what you can do to fix it and prevent it from happening again. 

About the author – Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with substance abuse for over 20 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise, he utilized his website,, and community outreach as a way to spread awareness. His primary focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation.