If you have a strong compulsion to use drugs and alcohol ––– despite mounting negative consequences at home, work, in your health and relationships ––– you may need help for addiction. Don’t ignore the warning signs, as addiction is a progressive disease. It’s critical to seek an evaluation by a physician or addiction specialist who can refer you to reliable professional treatment.

Key characteristics of addiction, as defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), include:

  • Inability to consistently abstain from substance use
  • Impairment in behavioral control
  • Craving or increased “hunger” for drugs or rewarding experiences
  • Diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships
  • A dysfunctional emotional response

Recovery from addiction is possible with effective treatment – which is best achieved through a combination of self-management, mutual support and professional care provided by trained and certified professionals, according to ASAM. See also our“ Guide to Choosing the Best Rehab.”