Addiction can be a confusing, insidious, and intense experience. Most of the time when it’s happening we don’t even know we’re in the middle of it. We might spend a lot of time avoiding the topic, in denial, unsure of the reality of our current situation. One of the questions I receive the most in my work is, when do I know enough is enough? When should I ask for help? How do I know if I have a problem? Unfortunately, the answers to these questions aren’t always black and white.
If you’re like me, you might think that seeking addiction treatment is an extreme measure. You might not think it’s something you need or even available to you. But the truth is only a small percentage of people who need treatment actually get it. I believe addiction help is necessary and available for anyone who has an issue with alcohol or drugs. But how do you know when it’s time?
1. When you’ve had enough of yourself.
Are you tired of your own bullsh*t? Are you sick of losing your belongings, getting in fights with your significant other, losing friendships, forgetting to pay your bills, or having nasty hangovers? Chances are if you’re misusing alcohol or drugs, there will come a point and time where you become tired of the endless cycle that has become your life. I had this thought and feeling many times before I actually got sober. But when I finally made the decision to do something about it was because I was truly sick and tired of being sick and tired. If you have this feeling deep down in your soul, it’s time to seek treatment.
2. When you’ve tried to quit on your own and you can’t
Maybe you’ve tried to quit or have quit for a short amount of time – a week, a month, but you always end up going back to drinking or using. Maybe you attempt to moderate your use. For me, I attempted limiting the amount of days I drank, how much I drank in each sitting and what I drank. It would work for a time, but eventually I always ended up back where I started – blacking out, with horrible hangovers, and down on myself once again. I didn’t know this at the time, but I was attempting to quit and regulate my drinking, but it wasn’t working. That was a sign for me that I should have reached out for help.
3. When you picture yourself with another life.
I can’t tell you the number of times I fantasized about having a different life when I was in my addiction. I pictured waking up early on the weekends, sipping coffee on my porch, watching children run around, and doing the ins and outs of life without a hangover. At the time it seemed like a far-off dream. I should have taken this as a sign that my life needed to change. If you’ve had these thoughts, it might be a good time to seek addiction treatment and help.
4. When you know you can’t keep living the life you’re living.
Continuing to keep up with the behaviors and habits included in an addiction is hard work. It’s exhausting to plan your life around drinking and using, to endure the emotional and physical pain associated with it, and to deal with the negative consequences that inevitably always happen. Deep down in my soul I knew I couldn’t keep up the shenanigans forever. I knew there had to be another way and that way was sobriety.
5. When you feel like you are out of options.
The simplest way to know when it’s time to seek addiction treatment is when you’re feeling hopeless. You may feel like you’ve tried everything – moderation, stopping for a certain period of time, changing locations, jobs, or friends, but these options are still not working. You might feel like you just can’t get ahold of balance in your life. You’re in luck because you don’t have to do this alone and you are not the only one who feels this way, no matter how lonely you might feel. There is no shame in asking for helping and seeking out treatment to help you get your life back. In fact, it could be the best thing you ever do.
If I could go back I would listen to all of these signs and ask for help for myself. Don’t let the insidiousness of addiction convince you that you are not deserving of living a wonderful, sober life. You are, and you can. Addiction treatment may be able to help get you there.
Kelly Fitzgerald is a sober writer based in Southwest Florida who is best known for her personal blog The Adventures of a Sober Señorita. Her work has been published across the web including sites like The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Ravishly, SheKnows, Elite Daily, The Fix, Brit + Co, Addiction Unscripted and AfterParty Magazine. She is currently writing a memoir.