Living in Active Addiction: What is it Really Like?

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Active addiction looks different for everyone. As diverse as human beings are, so are their experiences. While addiction can look glamorous through the lens of Hollywood or Wallstreet- it can also look like living under the bridge- maybe holding a brown paper bag. While these are two accurate depictions, it is more common somewhere in between the two.
It is also common to attempt to separate ourselves from the idea that we may really have a “problem.” It is important to connect with the feelings somewhere beyond our misconceptions of this disease.

  • Addiction can look like sophisticated dinner parties and cocktails
  • Or a suburban mother drinking to cope. Perhaps taking prescribed pills not as they are prescribed.
  • Addiction can look like raiding our parent’s medicine cabinets.
  • Addiction can look like prescribed painkillers being used in excess- ultimately leading to cheaper and stronger drugs.
  • Addiction can look like the compulsion to lie or be sneaky.
  • Addiction can look like feelings of guilt and shame.
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness.
  • Feelings of isolation and withdrawal.
  • Feelings of paralyzing anxiety and fear.
  • Addiction surfaces as the inability to cope with life- sometimes we are left wondering why we didn’t get the instruction manual to life.

The tricky part is deciding if it is time to reach out for help. Addiction is a self-diagnosed disease, which comes down to how unmanageable your substance (alcohol or drug) use is for you individually, even if it’s “just a six pack.” Remember, substance abuse is merely a symptom of the uncomfortable feelings we feel the need to cover up.

Want to take a deeper look? While this is not a diagnosis- it does help us gain insight to any drinking or using patterns that may be considered abnormal. If you cannot connect with alcohol use, simply change the word alcohol with your drug of choice.

  1. Do you ever use alone?
  2. Have you ever substituted one drug for another, thinking that one particular drug was the problem?
  3. Have you ever manipulated or lied to a doctor to obtain prescription drugs?
  4. Have you ever stolen drugs or stolen to obtain drugs?
  5. Do you regularly use a drug when you wake up or when you go to bed?
  6. Have you ever taken one drug to overcome the effects of another?
  7. Do you avoid people or places that do not approve of you using drugs?
  8. Have you ever used a drug without knowing what it was or what it would do to you?
  9. Has your job or school performance ever suffered from the effects of your drug use?
  10. Have you ever been arrested as a result of using drugs?
  11. Have you ever lied about what or how much you use?
  12. Do you put the purchase of drugs ahead of your financial responsibilities?
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