When it comes to drug addiction and recovery, it can be difficult to evaluate the intensity of a problem. If you’re struggling with addiction yourself, it can be all-too-easy to rationalize using drugs and neglect to recognize the seriousness of your problem. On the other hand, if you’re living with a loved one who uses drugs, it can be easy to simply demonize their substance use and label it as addiction.
In either case, the most pressing question is generally one regarding rehab. Is rehab actually necessary, or is the problem simply being blown out of proportion? Or, perhaps a drug problem that you’ve been ignoring or pushing into the background is actually serious enough to necessitate rehab.
Whatever the situation, it remains important to be sure that you’re aware of the signs and symptoms that indicate that someone needs rehab. Whether this person is you or someone that you care deeply about, you need to remember that rehab is a process designed to help people sober up so that they can enjoy their life sober.
Why Bother Seeking Rehab?
If you haven’t put much time or thought into seeking rehab then you might not even be aware of what sort of process rehab is. Many people first hear about rehab through the lens of a negative stigma. Some people consider rehab to be a last-ditch attempt for someone struggling with a mental health problem.
While rehab may also be useful for helping people come to terms with mental health struggles, it’s much more than that. Rehab is a process that helps people gain control and sovereignty in their lives. The point of rehab is to encourage people to get the most enjoyment out of their life without needing to rely on substances, such as drugs or alcohol, to do so.
One of the challenges presented by this idea is the fact that many people don’t believe that they are reliant on substances. Rather, they just enjoy having a few drinks in the evenings or catching a buzz once in a while. However, many of these people are aware – at least subconsciously – that these habits tend to produce negative or undesirable outcomes in their life.
The purpose of rehab is not to hammer in the idea that you’re addicted to substances. Rather, it’s to help you understand that you can enjoy life just as much without these substances. Some of the benefits of this include improved physical and mental health, less reliance on substances, more available finances, and improved relationships with your loved ones and yourself.
However, deciding whether or not you actually need rehab is an entirely different question. In this next section we’ll discuss the differences between rehab and detox – two terms which are often incorrectly used interchangeably – and some of the signs and symptoms that suggest someone might need rehab.
Rehab or Detox?
Many people use the terms ‘rehab’ and ‘detox’ interchangeably, despite the fact that the two processes are very different.
In some cases, people may want to include a detoxification process in their rehab program. However, that is not necessary. It’s certainly possible to attend a rehab program without seeking detox, and it’s perfectly fine to go through a detox program without actually attending rehab.
This section will describe the differences between these two types of treatment.
Detox is generally a process that is finished before a person actually attends rehab. During the detox phase, a person eliminates drugs from their body. Many people experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms during this time.
These withdrawal symptoms can be quite intense, uncomfortable, and painful, ranging from sweating and anxiety to seizures and convulsions. In the case of these latter symptoms, it’s vitally important to ensure that you attend a detox program to help prevent the chance of a fatality.
However, many people are able to go through the detox phase on their own. Much of this depends on the type of drug that you’re addicted to. Physically addictive drugs, such as benzodiazepines and opiates, may necessitate a detox phase. Other drugs, such as amphetamines, are less physically intense to sober up from.
Detox programs vary in length depending on the intensity and the type of drug that you’re addicted to. Most detox programs are either 3, 5, or 7 days long. Drugs with longer half-lives, such as Suboxone or some benzodiazepine drugs, may require you to detox for a longer period.
The detox phase is one of the most important for anyone who is interested in recovering from drugs or alcohol. Because of the intense discomfort that most people face when they are detoxing from drugs, they are most likely to relapse during this period. A medically supervised detox program can help to eliminate most of the serious symptoms of your withdrawal and help to ensure that you don’t relapse.
Rehab is very different from detox. And, while some rehab programs might encourage you to attend a detox phase prior to actually starting your rehab – especially if you’ve been addicted to drugs like alcohol or benzos, which can cause fatal seizures – you may not have to attend detox at all.
Rehab is the actual program that helps you learn how to live your life without relying on drugs or alcohol as a crutch. The rehab process is different for different people, however, the basic premise of rehab is encouraging people to develop the mental, physical, and spiritual fortitude to live their life to the fullest.
Signs that you may need rehab
If you’re unsure whether or not you or your loved one actually need to attend a rehab program, don’t worry. If you’re willing to take an honest and unbiased look at the behavior and habits related to substance abuse, you should be able to determine relatively easily whether or not rehab is necessary.
Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms that someone might need rehab.
Your physical health is struggling
If your physical health is beginning to change because of your substance abuse then it may be a good time to seek rehab treatment. However, it can be difficult to determine – at least for some people – how to gauge their physical health in relation to their substance abuse.
Take, for example, a hangover. A hangover is a very obvious physical impairment caused by alcohol consumption. Most people would agree that if you’re experiencing a hangover then that means that you’ve drunk too much. This is a direct health problem caused by your substance abuse.
However, not everyone is aware of the ramifications of alcohol use their first few times drinking. However, if you continue to abuse alcohol to the point of experiencing serious hangovers on a regular basis, this is certainly an indication that your drinking is out of control and that you might need help.
However, other and more subtle physical health problems can also emerge. You may notice that you’re not able to jog for as long after smoking cigarettes for several years. You may notice your energy levels begin to fluctuate more often after abusing stimulants. You may find that your sexual performance is impaired because of drug or alcohol use.
All of these are indications that your substance use is causing physical problems in your life and needs to be changed.
Your mental health is changing
All drugs of abuse affect your mental health. The general process is as follows. First, you experience an elevation in your mental state. You may enjoy a reduction in anxiety, an elevation in mood, or blind euphoria.
Generally, this positive effect begins to dwindle several hours after the drug begins to wear off. This is when the comedown period begins to take place. You may feel dejected, sad, or depressed. Many people are unaware of these feelings, instead finding that they manifest as social withdrawal, increased arguments with their significant other, or changes in their behavior.
As substance abuse continues, you may notice that your mental health changes for the worst. What may initially have helped you to eliminate anxiety may now cause an increase in anxiety. You may feel incapable of socializing or attending work without having your substances to help eliminate your anxiety or provide you with mental energy.
In any of these situations, there is an obvious indication that substance abuse is having an adverse effect on your mental health.
Your relationships are changing
One of the biggest issues related to substance abuse is the changing of relationships.
When you become dependent on a drug or on alcohol, what’s actually happening is that you’re developing a serious relationship with this substance. For serious addictions, this relationship must then take precedence over all their other relationships because it’s necessary for them to function.
For example, a serious alcoholic will have to prioritize their relationship with alcohol over their relationship to their significant other. If they don’t, then they will experience serious alcohol withdrawals that will prevent them from being available for their partner.
Substance use can cause problems with relationships of all sorts.
- Substance abuse can strain familial relationships. If someone is using drugs or alcohol then their family is likely to become concerned about their health and well-being. This may lead to their family members sacrificing their own time, hobbies, and finances in order to keep the individual safe and healthy. Unfortunately, while this may be the result of good intentions the ultimate result is that the family is enabling the substance abuser and will only perpetuate their addiction.
- For many of the reasons listed above, substance abuse can cause serious difficulties in personal relationships. Drug and alcohol abuse also tend to increase the likelihood of domestic abuse on both parts.
- Drug and alcohol use can impair professional relationships. You may have a hard time consistently connecting with your coworkers and your employer may begin to question your capabilities if you’re regularly coming to work intoxicated.
You rely on substances in order to function
When someone first begins to use drugs or alcohol it’s often because these substances help them to perform more effectively. They may find that these substances help eliminate anxiety, or perhaps help them perform better at work.
However, as the substance use continues and blossoms into addiction, one tends to find that they become reliant on these substances in order to function. They may no longer be able to socialize whatsoever without having a drink and they may feel that their work performance is subpar without drugs.
If this is the case then you are certainly in need of treatment.
You have considered or tried to quit
If you have considered quitting drugs or alcohol, or if you’ve actually failed an attempt to stop using, then you may need professional help. One of the most telltale signs of addiction is a desire to stop using and sober up.
On a subconscious level, most people are aware that their addictions are not serving them. They may frequently mention their desire to stop using. They may frequently make attempts to reduce their use or stop using entirely. However, these repeated attempts often fail, sending the user back to square one.
If you find yourself in this situation then it may be a good idea to seek some professional help for your addiction.
You have placed yourself or others at risk
Another sign that you may need professional help is that you have placed yourself or others at risk.
Even if you’re not physically or mentally addicted to a substance, this is a good indication that you should seek help. Some common examples of risks that you may have experienced include:
- Becoming physically aggressive – even in a lighthearted or joking way (such as scrapping with a friend) – when you’re drunk or high
- Driving a vehicle under the influence
- Engaging in sexually risky behavior while drunk or under the influence of drugs
- Participating in immoral or dangerous behavior that is uncharacteristic of your sober self
If you’ve put yourself at risk then you may want to consider seeking help. Even if you haven’t hurt yourself or anyone else, it’s best to stop using substances before this actually happens..You don’t want to cause pain to your loved ones, do you?
Loved ones have mentioned your substance abuse
When most people hear their loved ones tell them about their drug or alcohol ‘problem,’ they are most likely to brush off such comments. It’s easy to claim that you don’t have a problem, that you’re in control of your use, and that there’s nothing to worry about.
However, doing this undermines your respect and trust in your friends or loved ones. You must remember that they’re not saying these things because they’re judging you. They’re not trying to make you feel bad. They’re saying these things because they’ve noticed a tangible change in your behavior and actions that leads them to feel concerned.
If you continue to drink or drug without heeding their comments, it’s likely that they will continue to experience these things. As your substance abuse continues, it becomes more and more likely that these people will choose to distance themselves from you. And, if you’re not listening to their concerns, why shouldn’t they?
You’re experiencing withdrawal
Withdrawal signs are a certain indication that you’re physically addicted to a substance. However, some people have a hard time recognizing or acknowledging withdrawal symptoms. If you’ve been using drugs or alcohol for a number of years, these withdrawal symptoms often fade into the background.
For example, many alcoholics will say that they just ‘need’ a drink to manage their stress. However, it’s not uncommon for alcohol withdrawal to cause elevated stress levels. This means that it’s easy to ignore or fail to recognize the many symptoms of withdrawal.
Some of the most common symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Difficulty thinking
- Mood swings
- Digestive problems
- Changes in vision
- Social changes (isolation)
- Sleeping too much
- Loss of appetite
You’re experiencing problems in school or work
Another telltale sign that your substance abuse is beginning to require treatment relates to your school and work life.
If you’re unable to attend school or work because of substance abuse, then you should certainly make an effort to cut back or stop using. This could be for a number of reasons.
- You may miss school due to being hungover or experiencing withdrawal symptoms
- You may need to pick up drugs before school or alcohol in order to function properly
- You may miss school or work due to being intoxicated and simply deciding not to show up
If you have experienced any of these issues then it’s certainly time to make a commitment to sobering up.
Rehab is one of the most important tools available to anyone who struggles with a substance abuse problem. Unfortunately, the hardest part about seeking rehab treatment is acknowledging that you actually have a problem.
This article explores some of the most common signs and symptoms of people who may need rehab. If these apply to any of your loved ones, then don’t hesitate to seek treatment at a nearby rehab facility.