4 Clear Signs You Need Help with Your Substance Addiction

My father’s voice was soft.

Ari, Ari, Ari. You’re fighting this war in the worst possible way.”

I don’t know how to fight it, Dad.”

You should ask for help,” he said.

I don’t know how to do that, either.”

Benjamin Alire Sáenz, author of “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

It sounds easy enough, doesn’t it, just asking for help? 

We do it all the time. “Grab this for me, would you?” or “Can you lend us a few bucks, just ‘til payday?” or “See that guy over there? He’s got a little baggie for me. Go and get it, would you? On, and give him this…”

As addicts and alcoholics, we have used every play in the book. Asked, pleaded, lied, deceived, stole, and, if you’re anything like I was, worse – much worse

Make us ask for real help with our addiction, however, and we’re done. Uh-huh, no way, thanks. Take your goodwill somewhere else – you’re ruining the little buzz I got going on here

I’d been saying that stuff for years, usually in reply to my family and friend’s pleading with me, begging me even, and often to those few bosses I’d ever had too. Help? Nope, no way, I like this, this buzz, this feeling, and “it’s how I’m gonna spend the rest of my days…” I think I was about the tender age of 19 when I started coming out with that stupid line.

A few years later, and it was me doing the pleading and the begging. That rock bottom they talk of? It sure hurts when you hit it.

Well, that was over 6 years ago now. A lot has changed – most especially within me. With my eternal thanks to an excellent rehab facility our family physician recommended and all the wonderful people I met at countless AA meetings in Philadelphia, I’m still here today. Without these people I met as I embarked on what I considered a futile attempt at getting clean and sober, I’d be dead. I’m positive of that (and so is our physician, and that guy’s a professional).

Right now, you may well be where I was back then. Not exactly, but close enough for government work, as they say. Anyway, regardless of your circumstances, you may well be thinking the same when it comes to the thought of an actual recovery from your addiction – futile.

Along with millions of others, I, too, am living proof it’s not. 

Important, that word – “living.” You ain’t doing it now. You might think you are, but, my friend, that’s the power of addiction for you. What follows are “4 Clear Signs You Need Help with Your Substance Addiction.” If even one of these applies to you, you are not, in any way, shape or form, doing the “living” thing. And, anyway, you ought to know this – actually living isn’t so bad

Before we begin properly, you need to know how addiction, known medically as Substance Use Disorder (SUD), is clinically diagnosed. 11 criteria are listed in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (latest version: DSM-5), and how many you meet will determine the severity of your abuse. 

Your 4 Clear Signs That You Need Help with Your Substance Addiction

Only 4 are listed below. All of the criteria are seriously problematic, to say the least, but these 4 are clearly dangerous. Here are your 4 signs:

  1. Hazardous Use: You continue to use the substance in ways that are dangerous to yourself and/or others, i.e., you’ve overdosed, you’ve driven while under the influence (DUI), or you’ve blacked out. It’s important to remember that anyone of these consequences will have consequences in themselves. For example, if you have driven while drunk or high, there is a chance any accident you cause can be fatal – for you or another.


2. Withdrawal Symptoms: When you’ve stopped using the substance, you’ve experienced withdrawal symptoms. You know exactly what I mean – the shakes, irritability, nausea, sickness, and so on. Certain substances, like alcohol, can be fatal if you quit cold turkey or cannot continue to drink for another reason.


3. Using Increased Amounts / Using For Longer: You’ve started to use increasing amounts or use the substance for long periods of time. If, for example, you use opioid painkillers, and forget how many you’ve taken, you can risk a potentially fatal overdose.


4. Physical and Psychological Problems Related to Your Use: You never get something for nothing in this life. Your substance use will lead to physical health problems, like liver damage or lung cancer, or psychological disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and personality disorders.

If any of these is ringing a bell (probably more like-sounding a foghorn) with you, you know and understand that you need help with your substance addiction, if, of course, you don’t already. If you meet just 1 of these 4 criteria, please speak to your own physician (or an addiction specialist) about getting the help you need, and deserve, before it’s too late. Remember, the criteria – just 4 out of a possible 11… – are:

  • Hazardous Use – danger to yourself or others
  • Withdrawal Symptoms – these will occur because you have built up a tolerance to your substance of addiction
  • Increased Amounts / For Longer – that same tolerance means you need more of the substance to get the same effect, and
  • Physical & Psychological Problems

It doesn’t get any clearer than that. Best wishes for your future.