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How Do I Know If I Need Rehab?


How Do I Know If I Need Rehab?

It’s not always easy to admit you need help—especially when you’re not even sure if you do. From an early age, many of us are taught to be self-sufficient, to find the answers to our questions ourselves, and to seek our own truths. Most of the time, this is good advice. But when it comes to matters of health and wellbeing, sometimes we can take this approach too far, and avoid seeking help when professional support might be exactly what we need.

If you’re already asking the question, “How do I know if I need rehab?”, the doubts in your mind that drove you to ask yourself this question might be a sign that rehab is the right choice for you. These feelings don’t typically come out of nowhere, and if you feel like your drug or alcohol use has become a problem, chances are good that quitting—or at least moderating—your use will be a good solution.

How Do I Know If I Need Rehab?

Of course, the reason you’re asking this question is because you’re unsure about committing your time and energy to addiction recovery. It’s completely natural and understandable to want to confirm your suspicions before trying to find the right addiction treatment facility. So, how do you determine if you need to go to rehab?

The DSM-5 offers solid addiction criteria that you can easily use as guideposts for determining the severity of your drug or alcohol addiction—or whether you have one at all.

  • Using puts you, or others, at risk. If you’ve ever driven home drunk (and especially if you’ve done it more than once), or if you’ve ever overdosed, these are strong indicators of addiction. However, seemingly less severe incidents, like binge drinking, blacking out, or accidentally hurting yourself due to inebriation, also qualify.
  • Using has negatively impacted your social life. Addiction can strain all types of interpersonal relationships in various ways. You may get into more fights—verbal or physical—and may find yourself forming unhealthy connections with others who use substances.
  • Using drives you to act irresponsibly. You may miss school or work, or neglect important household tasks because you’re busy using or acquiring your substance of choice.
  • You’ve chosen drugs or alcohol over activities you used to enjoy. This might mean skipping the yoga class you used to look forward to every week because you’re out drinking, or ditching your D&D group because you’re high and don’t want them to know it. It might not seem like a big deal at first, but the more often you give up healthy sources of joy in favor of using, the worse it is for your overall well-being.
  • When you stop using for too long, you don’t feel good. Experiencing withdrawal is a key sign that your body has become biologically addicted to a substance. Pay attention to changes in your thoughts and emotions when you stop using—emotional dependence may occur even if physical addiction is unlikely, and may still require help to address.
  • You no longer feel the same buzz or high that you did when you first started drinking or using. Tolerance is a sign that your body has grown used to the substance, and will keep requiring more and more of it in order to generate the feel-good reaction you’re looking for.
  • You have increased your intake in order to overcome tolerance. Physical tolerance alone is not necessarily a problem; the risk lies in how it can drive you to drink or use more and more until your intake reaches a lethal level.
  • Using is affecting your physical or mental health. Major illnesses like liver damage or lung cancer are obvious indicators, of course, but more everyday effects like vomiting after drinking too much should also be taken seriously. Similarly, if using triggers panic attacks, depressive episodes, confusion or memory problems, or any other psychological issues, those need to be taken into account as well.
  • You spend a significant amount of your time using. It can be easy to lose track of time when you’re using a mind-altering substance, but if your memories consist of drinking or using more often than not, there’s a good chance you are—or are on the cusp of becoming—addicted.
  • You’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to quit or moderate your use before. It’s easy to treat this as a simple change of heart. However, trying to quit or cut back usage and feeling physically or emotionally unable to do so is a strong indicator of addiction.
  • You’re already craving your next drink or dose. Craving is yet another telltale symptom of addiction; it’s your body or mind mistakenly telling you that you need that drink or drug in order to feel better because repeated use has created a chemical dependence on that substance.

If, looking back over the past 12 months, you can check two or more of these boxes, it is possible that you are struggling with addiction. However, to get a truly accurate substance abuse evaluation and appropriate treatment plan, it is vital that your next step be to consult with an addiction specialist who can help you get exactly the help you need to begin changing your life—and your health—for the better.

If you’re still not sure, consider this: has anyone in your life confronted or questioned you, directly or indirectly, about your drinking or drug usage? While you may have dismissed it as an overreaction at the time, their concern—combined with the fact that you are now struggling with those same concerns yourself—may be yet another red flag worth contemplating.

Family members discussing a loved one’s addiction.

What If My Loved Ones Don’t Think I Need Rehab?

When a loved one expresses concern, it isn’t coming out of anywhere. However, when a loved one seems to downplay, or even deny, the possibility that you are addicted—or even that you drink or use drugs at all—these reactions should not be taken at face value.

If you feel like you are struggling but trusted friends or family members are saying otherwise, ask yourself this: would it be disturbing to them to admit that you have a problem? Family members may use denial as a coping mechanism because it would simply be too painful to realize that you are in a dark place. Parents, especially, may struggle with acknowledging addiction because to do so, in their eyes, means admitting that they have failed to protect their own child from harm. Likewise, friends who drink or use drugs may not wish to see your struggle for what it is because doing so might force them to admit that they, too, are addicted.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t talk to your loved ones about your situation and your concerns; a strong support network can play a key role in the recovery process. However, at the end of the day, it’s up to you to recognize your own struggles and needs, and act accordingly. 

If drug or alcohol use has been taking over your life—if it’s made you do or say things you regret, act out of character, or neglect important people or responsibilities—chances are good that it has become a real problem, one you will likely need help to successfully overcome.

How Will I Know When It’s Time to Get Addiction Treatment?

Once you’ve answered the question “How do I know if I need rehab?” in the affirmative, the next logical question is to wonder when you need to go. Is this an emergency situation? Can it wait until summer break, or until you’ve accumulated more PTO at work?

The reality is, regardless of how severe your addiction may be, help should always be sought out sooner rather than later. While crisis situations should absolutely be addressed immediately, even a “mild” addiction should not be put on the back burner to be dealt with when it’s more convenient. Addiction is like cancer—the earlier it’s diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated, and the easier it will be to prevent future relapse.

However, if you’re still not sure you’re ready for rehab, keep this in mind too: consulting with a physician does not equal committing yourself to long-term, inpatient treatment. What it does mean is that you will finally be able to gain some clarity and some much-needed support in figuring out the best way for you to move forward with your recovery and your life.

If you’ve been asking yourself, “How do I know if I need rehab?”, New Choices Treatment Centers might be able to help. We understand that you may be hesitant to enroll in a rehab program. If you reach out to us or call us now at (726) 888-7003, our experienced addiction specialists can help you find the answers you need and begin paving a clearer path forward—one determined by your own unique recovery needs and goals.