MA LMFT CGP
Paula-Jo (PJ) Husack
January 23, 2020
Are you in the driver’s seat or does your partying have control?
A few Christmas trees are still left on the city streets, dried out and spent after a crazy-partying season. Some of you may feel the same way. It’s time to recover from this frenetic annual cycle. Time to stop.
Time to take a break from drinking too much for a while.
But what if this temporary restorative abstinence is more than a simple response to holiday partying? What if it’s the next step toward the repetitive cycle of using-stopping-using-stopping? What if these substance behaviors have been present all year or more before the holiday season?
Maybe you know deep down that you’ve been marginally getting by at work or at school. Using these substances has become more and more of a distraction.
For many, the first quarter of the new year marks its own “season” of personal discovery, and you may be wondering what the signs of addiction are, and if you might have a drinking problem. The party season stopped weeks ago and you did, too; so, you don’t have a problem. Or, the party season stopped, but you can’t.
And for others, you’re using more now and it’s out of control. Life’s out of control. There’s a problem. You may see it. Or, it’s your family who finally calls it for what it is — an addiction — and they initiate a treatment intervention.
Maybe you have no idea how far you are into addiction. Your New Year’s resolution to lay off for awhile and your ability to do it for awhile supports the fantasy belief, “I don’t have a problem because I can stop whenever I want.”
The holiday party season easily glazes over the seriousness of these behaviors. So does the campus partying season, which lasts all school year. The real story is that we become substance dependent, obsessed, or addicted. These situations and substances are familiar. It can be called “social” to use.
A person can develop addictive symptoms to anything, legal or not.
Some substances, like stimulants (crystal, cocaine), cause the brain to quickly jump into an addictive state. Same with obsessive, non-regulated use of sugar; yes, sugar can also be an addiction. Have you ever seen a spect scans of the brain on substances?
See the similarities cross-substances. Some behaviors, like chronic daily compulsivity with gaming or pornography, can trigger the brain to keep euphoria-seeking. It can be a longer process than blowing coke to get the “hit”.
Yet, all are forms of addiction, whether it’s about a substance (alcohol, heroin, Adderall, food, cocaine) or a process behavior (shopping, gaming, sexting, watching porn). The red light is blinking to ” STOP, STOP, STOP!”
If you’re wondering, “How do I know if I’m an alcoholic?” or “Am I an addict?”, have you spotted some of these addiction-looming clues? Here are 7 signs of addiction to watch for:
Beneath these addictive clues are often deeper core problems: anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Physical or emotional abuse may also be there.
The substance or behavioral process has become an important way to cope. If you’ve paused on one of the seven and said, “That’s me”, it’s worth getting an opinion from someone, who knows you well. If these clues aren’t self-concerning, is your loved one, friend, or coworker struggling?
A healthy, whole, and fulfilling life can be yours throughout all seasons when you put your wellness — and not the substance — first. Facing the problem is the initial giant step.
Add professional help, a community of support, and a willingness to know-and grow-yourself like never before. You’ll build an empowering force to lead your life into the future, one day at a time.