Tag Archives: Substance Abuse Patterns

Tag Archives: Substance Abuse Patterns


“Am I an addict?” is an extremely common question for those who find themselves behaving differently or making uncharacteristic choices in the name of drugs and alcohol. Individuals who prioritized academic success above all else may find themselves struggling to perform at school. Supportive parents may begin missing recitals, football games and family dinners. There is no way to predict how substance use will affect your life until it has spiraled out of control.

Addiction to drugs and alcohol is a nationwide epidemic. This disease affects your brain and behavior – those who are addicted modify their lives to center around substance use. While the ways that people begin using or drinking may vary, it is universally accepted that no one starts using with the goal of becoming an addict.

Today, we have compiled some resources for those who would like to ask themselves this pivotal question. If you would like help, the team at Cumberland Heights is here for you.

Self-Test for Addiction

This yes-or-no self-test has been developed by Narcotics Anonymous. If you are wondering whether you are an addict, only you can answer that question. This may not be an easy task – from the beginning of your substance use, you probably told yourself, “I can handle it.” This is no longer true. Addiction is a progressive disease, meaning that it worsens with time.

There is nothing shameful about being an addict. Armed with this knowledge, you can begin making powerful, positive changes to your life. Take a moment to answer the questions below as honestly as you can. Keep track of how many items to which you respond “yes.”

  1. Do you ever use alone?
  2. Have you ever substituted one substance for another, thinking that one particular drug was the problem?
  3. Have you ever manipulated or lied to a doctor in order to obtain prescription drugs?
  4. Have you ever stolen drugs? Have you ever stolen in order to obtain drugs?
  5. Do you regularly use a drug when you wake up, or when you go to sleep?
  6. Have you ever taken one drug in order to overcome the effects of another substance?
  7. Do you avoid people or places that do not approve of your substance use?
  8. Have you ever used a drug without knowing what it was, or how it would affect you?
  9. Has your work or school performance ever suffered from your substance use?
  10. Have you ever been arrested as a result of using drugs or alcohol?
  11. Have you ever lied about how much you use, or what you use?
  12. Do you put the purchase of drugs ahead of your financial responsibilities?
  13. Have you ever tried to control or stop your using?
  14. Have you ever been jailed, hospitalized, or placed in a treatment center because of your substance use?
  15. Does using interfere with your sleeping or eating habits?
  16. Does the thought of running out of drugs terrify you?
  17. Do you feel that it is impossible to live without drugs or alcohol?
  18. Do you ever question your own sanity?
  19. Is your drug use making life at home unhappy?
  20. Have you ever thought you couldn’t fit in or have a good time without drugs?
  21. Have you ever felt guilty, defensive, or ashamed of your substance use?
  22. Do you think a lot about drugs or alcohol?
  23. Have you had irrational or indefinable fears?
  24. Has using affected your sexual relationships?
  25. Have you ever taken drugs you didn’t prefer?
  26. Have you ever used drugs because of stress or emotional pain?
  27. Have you ever overdosed on any drugs?
  28. Do you continue to use in spite of negative consequences?
  29. Do you think you might have a drug problem?

Ultimately, the total number of yeses does not dictate your result. The answer to the question “Am I an addict?” lies in your feeling about how substance use has affected your life.

Many people try to make excuses, believing that their circumstances are different or that they are just having a tough time. Ultimately, the truth is that addiction makes life unmanageable. Narcotics Anonymous requires the acceptance of three realizations:

  1. We are powerless over addiction and our lives are unmanageable;
  2. Although we are not responsible for our disease, we are responsible for our recovery;
  3. We can no longer blame people, places and things for our addiction. We must face our problems and our feelings.

I’m an Addict. What Can I Do?

Acknowledging that you are an addict is an important first step to finding recovery. Next, you must create a plan to get well. What should you look for?

Seeking treatment for addiction can be a complicated endeavor. Many people may feel overwhelmed by this process – a simple Google search uncovers countless nearby treatment centers, all with vastly different offerings. Luckily, there are a few specific criteria you can look for in a facility that ensures high quality of care.

  • Joint Commission Accreditation – A seal of approval from this governing body means that a center has committed to high standards of patient safety, evidence-based care and continued education for providers. It can only be attained through an on-site visit and must be maintained afterwards. This indicates that a facility has achieved the gold standard of addiction treatment providers.
  • NAATP Membership – Facilities affiliated with NAATP, the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, must submit proof of adherence to best practices and a universal code of ethics.

Once you have reviewed a center for these standards, you should also take some time to tour their facilities. Most places will have a page on their website dedicated to showing off amenities like walking trails, labyrinths and ropes courses. When you know more about a center, you will feel more comfortable pursuing your recovery there.

Contact a Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center

Finally, you should contact the admissions center at your facility of choice. At Cumberland Heights, our friendly admissions staff are available 24/7 and can even help to verify your insurance coverage. They will discuss your treatment options and help you to organize your finances in order to obtain care. If you are worried about being an addict, we can help. Contact Cumberland Heights today.

Abusing Substances in the Armed Forces

Members of the U.S. military are not immune to the substance use problems that affect society at large. With one notable exception, drug and alcohol use patterns mimic or are higher among military personnel than among civilians.

For example, the rate of illicit drug use is lower among military personnel than it is among civilians. However, the rates of prescription drug abuse, as well as heavy tobacco and alcohol use, are much higher and on the rise.

According to the 2008 Department of Defense Survey of Health Related Behaviors, among active-duty personnel, only 2.3% of troops had used an illicit drug in the past month, compared to 12% of civilians.

Despite the relatively low rate of illicit drug use, abuse of prescription drugs was found to be higher among service members than among civilians and on the rise. In 2008, 11% of troops reported abusing prescription drugs, which was up from 2% in 2002 and 4% in 2005. The majority of misused prescription drugs were opioid pain relievers. Prescriptions for pain relievers for troops quadrupled between 2001 and 2009, to nearly 4 million. Much of the increase was likely due to combat-related injuries and the stress of carrying heavy equipment during multiple deployments.

What is behind these patterns of substance abuse? 

Experts believe that the unique culture of the military, as well as the potential stress of deployment during wartime, are behind some of the variations. As an example, the lack of confidentiality deters many of those who need treatment from seeking it. Additionally, perceived stigma and zero-tolerance policies make it difficult to identify and treat substance use problems of active-duty military personnel.

Among the troops, multiple deployments and combat exposure are the greatest risk factors for developing substance use issues. These individuals are more likely to have greater prescribed use of behavioral health medications and to engage in heavy weekly drinking and binge drinking. They are also more likely to experience drug and alcohol-related problems and to begin smoking or relapse after quitting smoking.

The zero-tolerance policy for drug use among military personnel is believed to be a major reason behind the consistently low illicit drug use rate recorded for the past several decades. The policy was implemented in 1982 and is enforced by frequent random drug testing. If military members test positive for illicit drug use they face criminal prosecution and/or dishonorable discharge.

Stateside Aftershocks

Even after discharge, returning veterans may carry the physical, emotional and psychological wounds from their military experience back home and into their civilian lives. One study found that 25% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans reported symptoms of a mental disorder after returning home. Additionally, one in six of these veterans reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Disorders such as these are strongly linked to substance abuse and dependence, traumatic brain injury,  sleep disturbances and violence in relationships among returning military personnel.

Among veterans, young adults are particularly at risk for developing substance use disorders and mental health issues. One study conducted in 2004-2006 with veterans found that 25% of 18- to 25-year-olds met the criteria for substance use disorder; this is more than twice the rate of veterans aged 26-54 and five times the rate seen in veterans 55 and older.

Historically, suicide rates among military members were lower than among civilians within the same age range. However, in 2004 the trend began to turn, and the suicide rate among personnel in the U.S. Army began to climb; this rate surpassed the civilian rate in 2008.

Experts recognize that substance abuse is involved in many military personnel suicides. In 2010 a report by the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force revealed that nearly one in three active-duty Army suicides from 2005 to 2009 involved alcohol or drug use. The report showed that in 2009, prescription drugs were involved in almost one-third of military suicides.

Along with substance use disorder, alcohol use is also higher among troops versus civilians. Nearly 50% of active-duty personnel reported binge drinking in 2008, compared to a 35% rate reported in 1998. In 2008, one in five military personnel reported binge drinking every week within the past month. This rate was considerably higher (nearly one in three), among those with high combat exposure.

Statistics show that in 2008, 30% of all military troops smoked cigarettes, which was comparable to the 29% rate for civilians. However, as was evidenced by alcohol use, smoking rates were significantly higher among those personnel who had been in combat.

Based on these concerning statistics a report issued by the Institute of Medicine recommended ways to address the substance use problem in the military. The 2012 report was prepared for the Department of Defense and recommended increasing the use of evidence-based treatment and prevention strategies as well as providing greater access to health care.

The report also recommended widening insurance coverage to include efficacious outpatient treatments and better training for healthcare providers in order to recognize and screen for substance use problems, as well as limiting access to alcohol on military bases.

Increased confidentiality is necessary in order to successfully address substance misuse in the military, according to the study, as is changing a cultural climate in which substance abuse problems are reacted to with stigmatization.

Curbing Prescription Drug Abuse

For example, the Army has undertaken changes that include limiting a prescription for opioids to 6 months and having a pharmacist monitor medication use when multiple prescriptions are being used.

Recovery is possible—recover your unique, purposeful, sober life by reaching out to the dedicated experts at Cumberland Heights.

Addiction is a chronic, progressive and potentially fatal disease. For over 50 years we have carefully provided the highest quality of care for adults, adolescents and families who suffer from, or are affected by this devastating disease.

Our nonprofit alcohol and drug addiction treatment center is located on a peaceful, pastoral 177-acre campus on the banks of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. We provide a continuum of services through two 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes.

At Cumberland Heights, we always put the patient first, and value the importance of family participation in the recovery process. Take the first step toward healing by calling us at (866) 899-5231 today.


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