5 Normalized Behaviors That are Actually Signs of Addiction

With growing public awareness and education around the topic of substance abuse and addiction, more people than ever before are re-evaluating their relationship with drugs and alcohol. While not all people who experiment with illicit substances or use recreationally will develop an addiction, having greater understanding of the signs of addiction can help those who do receive the help they need to overcome substance abuse sooner. Unfortunately despite the advances made in the fight against addiction, many addictive behaviors may still fly under the radar because they are socially accepted or encouraged. 

These five normalized behaviors may actually be signs of addiction.

1. Frequent Binge Drinking

With the legal drinking age at 21 across the United States, there’s a culture of binge drinking and partying among young Americans. Because alcohol lowers inhibitions and encourages reckless behavior, higher levels of consumption can lead to dangerous situations. While responsible alcohol use can be fun, frequently binge drinking may be a sign of an alcohol abuse problem. If you find yourself unable to have a good time without needing to drink it may be time to take a closer look at your relationship with alcohol.

Front view of a doubtful woman shrugging shoulders and looking at you sitting on a sofa at home

2. Using to Cope with Strong Emotions

Despite what the media shows us, using drugs and alcohol as a crutch for dealing with break-ups, grief, trauma, or mental health issues is a major red flag that a substance use problem may be developing. While movies and TV shows glamorize the practice, this is a harmful coping mechanism that only masks the problem. Getting drunk or high may bring temporary relief from strong negative emotions but they don’t solve the problem. In many cases it just prolongs things and compounds the issue with hangover or withdrawal symptoms. This can lead you to using it again to avoid those symptoms, creating a cycle of both physical and mental dependence.

3. Framing Social Engagement Around Drug and Alcohol Use

Our friend circles are typically framed around mutual interests like music, TV shows and movies, hobbies, or world views. Common substance use habits and interests may also draw people together into acquaintanceships and friendships. However, if you find that your friend group is primarily held together by drugs and alcohol it may be time to consider why. If you find yourself more amiable to hang out with loved ones if there is a promise of access to alcohol or an opportunity to get high you may be experiencing substance dependence.

4. Needing a Night Cap or to Wake and Bake

We all need to unwind sometimes after particularly stressful days. Deciding to have a drink with dinner or a night cap every so often does not necessarily indicate a substance use problem. However, needing a drink before bed to get to sleep or looking to get drunk or high first thing in the morning may be. Whether spurred on my physical symptoms of withdrawal or a psychological dependence, a daily habit could be a sign of deeper issues.

5. Black Out Antics

While the trope of waking up with no recollection of the previous night has been played through a thousand times for comedic effect, black out drinking is incredibly dangerous. It leaves you not only vulnerable but increases your risk of doing something regrettable. Blackout drinking isn’t ‘just harmless fun’. If you find yourself having to apologize for acts you don’t remember or facing worse ramifications than embarrassment, it’s time to consider quitting drinking. 

If any of these potential signs of substance abuse resonate with you and you or a loved one needs help, contact Golden Peak Recovery now. 

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