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When it comes to drug addiction, recognizing that a problem exists is relatively simple.
The seedy underworld of drug addiction, though morbidly alluring to many, is difficult to deny –even for the most seasoned addict. Due to the nature of the lifestyle that accompanies drug addiction, people who find themselves hooked on drugs usually acknowledge their addiction long before alcoholics do.
Because heroin, crack, marijuana and other mind-altering drugs of this caliber are illegal, a vast array of risky behaviors must take place in order to obtain them. Before an addict can get high, he or she must break the law and put themselves in harm’s way. Money must exchange hands between the user and a dealer, which often happens in the dark alleys of dangerous neighborhoods. Interacting with prostitutes, gangbangers and thieving junkies usually goes hand in hand with the person who is addicted to hard drugs. Even those who only smoke marijuana often discover that getting their drug of choice requires at least some risk. Indeed, the high cost of low living causes a rapid decline in a person’s quality of life.
There are a number of reasons why drug addicts fall harder and faster than their alcoholic counterparts. For starters, the very nature of illicit drug use causes the addict to become isolated, avoiding friends and family who do not approve of such behavior. Financial strain usually accompanies drug addiction, since street drugs don’t come cheap. Soon bill collectors are calling and services are being cut off. Many addicts find they don’t even have enough gas money to get them to work –or the dope house, for that matter. Erratic behavior, violent mood swings, legal difficulties and severe and chronic health problems go hand in hand with drug addiction. These glaring consequences usually make denial difficult.
On the other hand, alcohol addiction is a much easier concept for the alcoholic to reject. After all, alcohol is legal and offered at just about every corner store in America. If an alcoholic wants a drink, he or she will likely be able to find one within walking distance. In the United States, alcohol is associated with social interaction. It is served at parties, weddings, business mixers and all kinds of lively celebrations. It is advertised on the television, radio and Internet. Everywhere we turn, we are being sent a message –it is okay to drink beer, whiskey, wine, margaritas and any other mind-numbing liquor you can think of. This level of social acceptance makes it easy to drink mass quantities of alcohol in social settings without anyone raising an eyebrow.
Furthermore, alcohol doesn’t take an immediate toll on a drinker’s life. Someone who smokes crack or shoots heroin will begin experiencing incredibly negative consequences almost immediately. The alcoholic can drink for decades before he or she even begins to see any negative effect alcohol is having on their life. Many alcoholics are considered high functioning people. They get up and go to work –with a hangover, no less, but off to work they go. They pay their bills, have decent relationships and get a clean bill of health from the doctor for years. Why should I stop drinking? thinks the alcoholic. My life is going quite well.
What the alcoholic fails to realize is that slowly, over time, he or she is poisoning the body, mind and spirit. Long-term alcohol abuse results in liver and kidney failure, brain damage and is the sole cause of many cancers. While the drinker may not realize it, their consumption of alcohol is preventing them from reaching their full potential. The time, money and energy dedicated to getting drunk requires quite a commitment. These resources would be much better spent on productive action and positive activities. Alcohol addiction may even be the cause of divorce, alienation of affection from loved ones, termination of employment and other potentially life-threatening scenarios. The problem is; the alcoholic will blame external circumstances, rather than recognizing their drinking as a major crisis.
So, Do You Have a Problem?
If you think you might have a problem with alcohol, you probably do. People who are not alcoholics do not sit around wondering of they are an alcoholic. If you’re drinking every day, drinking more than you planned to when you do drink or have experienced negative consequences as a result of your drinking…you may very well be in the grips of alcoholism without even knowing it.
Still not convinced? Don’t take our word for it. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has a confidential self test you can take to determine whether you need to seek treatment for your alcoholic consumption. Click here for the test.