Am I Addicted? When to Ask for Help for Your Substance Use

At some point, every substance abuser wonders if their recreational alcohol and drug use has crossed a line and become a problem. While the very fact that you feel the need to ask that question is of itself a warning sign, there are ways to determine if you need professional treatment.

Here is a self-assessment quiz that you can help you decide what to do next.

Question #1: Do you drink/use drugs more often than you mean to?

Question #2: Do you use alcohol/drugs in greater quantities than you mean to?

Question #3: Have you tried unsuccessfully to cut back or quit?

This group of questions have to do with control. In the beginning, substance use is a choice—YOU decide if, when, how often, and how much to do. When it starts to become a compulsion, that indicates a growing problem.

Question #4: Do you spend a lot of time thinking about, acquiring, using, and recovering from substance use?

Question #5: Have you ignored/missed important family, work, school, recreational, or social activities because of substance use?

Question #6: Do you experience strong urges or cravings for alcohol or drugs?

Question #7: Do you need greater quantities than you used to get the same effect?

Question #8: When you can’t drink or use, do you experience withdrawal symptoms? Examples:


  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Inability to Concentrate
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory Problems
  • Overwhelming Drug Cravings


  • Headache
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle Cramps & Pain
  • Hot Flashes & Chills
  • Insomnia

These questions have to do with tolerance levels and psychological and physical dependence. As an addictive disorder progresses, your brain becomes highjacked by the need to drink and use with greater frequency and in increasing amounts.

Question #9: Are you having relationship problems because of your substance use? Examples:

  • Concern from family members and friends
  • Arguments
  • Domestic violence
  • Separations
  • Breakups
  • Divorce
  • Estrangement from family
  • Loss of children
  • Child abuse

Question #10 – Is your substance use affecting your work or school performance? Examples:

  • Poor performance
  • Absenteeism
  • Chronic tardiness
  • Missed assignments and deadlines
  • Written reprimands
  • Suspensions
  • Being passed over for promotion
  • Termination or expulsion

Question #11 – Are you having financial difficulty because of your substance use? Examples:

  • Unpaid rent or mortgage
  • Behind on bills
  • Repossessions
  • Fines
  • Homelessness
  • Using bill money to buy drugs or alcohol

Question #12 – Do you engage in risky behaviors while using substances? Examples:

  • Driving while intoxicated or under the influence
  • Unsafe sex
  • Binge-drinking

Question #13 – Has your substance use resulted in legal problems? Examples:

  • DUI
  • Public intoxication
  • Possession
  • Theft
  • Fraud
  • Drug Court
  • Ignition Interlock Device
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Fines
  • Restitution

Question #14 – Is your substance use negatively affecting your health? Examples:

  • Blackouts
  • Overdoses
  • Hepatitis
  • Malnutrition
  • Dental problems
  • Unhealthy weight loss
  • Memory loss
  • Heart problems
  • Liver disease
  • Organ failure
  • Brain damage
  • Cancer

These questions highlight the consequences of substance use. As a person loses control, these consequences will add up, increasing in both frequency and severity.

Question #15 – Are you still using substances, despite negative consequences?

In some ways, this may be the most important question of all. If you are still unwilling or unable to stop using alcohol and drugs at this point, that is a giant red flag that should not be ignored.

If you answered “YES” to two or more of these questions, you may be at elevated risk for a Substance Use Disorder. This means that you should contact a reputable treatment center for a more formal assessment that addresses your situation and as an individual.

Here’s the thing – addiction is a chronic and progressive disease – it does not go away, and it worsens over time. If you feel that you may have a drug or drinking problem, it IS possible to get help and healing.

Since 1978, Chapman House in Orange County, California, has been a trusted resource for people in crisis due to alcoholism, drug abuse, and any co-occurring mental disorders. If you need help and you are ready to start your own sober journey, contact contact Chapman House today.

by Albert Fontenot

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