Am I Really an Addict?

You can take the recovery process one step at a time. After all, even answering the question “Am I an addict?” is not a simple task. But by focusing on one step after another, we can answer other important questions and, ultimately, reach a place of healing and the prospect of life as you really want it.

“Am I an addict?” It’s a question which, in and of itself, is unsettling. But even more unsettling are the wasted possibilities and the potential losses and destruction that come when people neglect to answer this important question.

At the moment, you need only to commit to asking and answering honestly. After that, you may face more questions regarding solutions to the problem. But it’s good to take one thing at a time.


Substance use disorders are not uncommon. If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, you are most certainly not alone. And it is that fact that is most likely to empower your recovery. Why? Because:

  1. There are innovative addiction treatment centers ready to meet the need for comprehensive healing.
  2. Most people who beat addiction do so with extensive peer support, which is available in many forms.
  3. Addiction is also a disease of isolation; as soon as you begin to reverse isolative patterns, you can also transform addictive patterns.


Unfortunately, only a small fraction of people with substance use disorders actually receive treatment. The rest continue to suffer in the grip of addiction—whether they are aware of it or not. On the chance that you are one of the many people overcome with alcohol or drug dependence, choose to be one of that fortunate fraction who reclaims their strength and their life.

Answering the Big Question: Am I an Addict?

The line between problem drinking and addiction is probably not as solid as you might think or want it to be. But we can draw lines between each individual’s experience—not because they can’t benefit from each other’s support and understanding but because each person’s experience is unique. Some people slide quickly into the trap of addiction while others tread the line dangerously for years. The way one person’s life gets derailed doesn’t necessarily look like the next person’s storm or battle or quiet suffering. People have different things to lose.

This is all to say that we can’t follow our preconceived expectations about addicts all the way to the end because the way addiction affects each individual is personal. Instead, it’s important to honestly examine your relationship to the substance and the state of your life—compared to how you might want it to be or how it used to be before these questionable patterns of substance use kicked in.

Consider whether:

  • You have used this substance alone.
  • You have lied about your use or about other things in life in order to facilitate your use.
  • You have ever tried to cut back or stop using.
  • You have been underperforming at work or school or other responsibilities.
  • You prioritize the substance before other things.
  • You have used specifically to help you feel better about something emotionally unsettling.
  • Your sleeping and eating habits have changed.
  • You have been seeing your friends or family less or not at all.
  • You avoid people who disapprove of your substance use.
  • You feel any shame or guilt around your use.
  • You have gotten into some kind of trouble related to drug or alcohol use.
  • The thought of not using or of running out of the substance is uncomfortable or even scary.

You don’t need to be able to check off all of these considerations in order to point to substance abuse or even addiction. Remember, everyone’s experience is different and everyone has different things to gain and lose in life. Only you can determine whether you’re living the life you really want. If not, it’s possible that your substance use is getting in the way and that you really could have that life by taking care of the real problems in the best ways.

Hope is Just a Phone Call Away


Answering Other Important Questions About Addiction

The answer to the question at hand may be as simple as “yes” or “no”—once you trudge through all of the inherent complications, including denial, resentment, pride, confusion. And, of course, the addiction itself may very well be blocking you from recognizing it because as soon as you begin to see what’s really going on, you destabilize that dependence.

Let’s look at some of those other complications in search of the truth about your behavioral health.

What’s the difference between substance abuse and addiction?

While they are certainly related, substance abuse and addiction are not synonymous. Abuse of drugs or alcohol refers to a pattern of excessive and/or frequent drinking. This pattern of abuse can have devastating consequences even if you have not yet developed a dependence on the substance. Addiction means that your body and/or your mind have become dependent to the point that you are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using and the levels of the substance in your body wear off. The choice to quit becomes more complicated when this underlying dependence kicks in.

Is addiction biological or psychological?

There are both biological and psychological risk factors for addiction. By the time dependence has taken hold, the problematic relationship to the substance is also biological and psychological in nature. The brain has had to adapt to the use of drugs or alcohol—and because the body now needs the substance to feel normal, an addict is driven to do what it takes to use more. Their behavior becomes compulsive, their impulse control is compromised, and their priorities have shifted to accommodate for the mind and body’s new concept of survival.

Can I handle addiction recovery on my own?

Again, addiction is often called “a disease of isolation.” This is because substance use disorders thrive under lonely conditions and because it is prohibitively challenging to overcome addiction in isolation. Not only is the risk of relapse dangerously high, but the withdrawal symptoms can also be dangerous physically, mentally, and emotionally if you attempt to accomplish detox and recovery on your own.

A diverse range of support is definitely to your advantage on the road to recovery. Peer support can help you feel grounded and understood and can offer real tips and strategies from others facing similar challenges. Clinical support can give you a leg up in the particularly difficult phases of healing and help you to manage any co-occurring disorders. Support from family and friends helps to reinforce the long-range path so you can continue in the direction of healing and recovery and claim the life you truly want.

If I do need help, where can I look for it?

Hypothetically speaking, if you struggle with substance abuse or addiction, help is just a phone call away. It’s not worth playing around with hypotheticals if you really have a problem. The risks of continuing with destructive patterns are too great. So, it’s time to get real about the nature of your alcohol or drug use and what you are risking if you don’t get help.

If you are an addict, your drinking or drug use is most definitely a problem. But there are other problems below the surface that need attention too. They are the problems that provoke you to reach for the substance in the first place as a way to cope. The real truth is that you aren’t bound to the whim of all of these problems. The path of recovery isn’t an easy one, but it is entirely possible—and worth the hard work. Now that you’ve explored the question of whether you are an addict, it’s time to ask: What kind of life do you really want?

Alta Mira offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders and process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Bay Area programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward recovery.