A physical addiction is an uncontrollable and compulsive use of drugs or alcohol even when it interferes with everyday responsibilities. Addiction is progressive, generally starting with a casual use of the ‘drug of choice’ with escalating tolerance levels.  Eventually there are intense physical cravings for the drug and an emotional obsession to continue using it despite the consequences.
Ironically, denial is a strong symptom of addiction. Denial involves minimizing and justifying continued use as a defense mechanism to avoid recognizing the extent of the addiction. Recognition and acceptance of the addictive behavior is an initial requirement to finding a way out.


Many people hear the term ‘alcoholic’ and assume you are homeless or toothless or a complete loser to qualify. That just isn’t the case. Most alcoholics operate at a functional level most of the time. Unfortunately, alcoholism is progressive and, over time, the ability to manage drinking levels becomes impossible.

12 Step Resources:

Alcoholics Anonymous

Celebrate Recovery

People who experience any combination of these behaviors should seriously consider the possibility that they may be an alcoholic:

  • Regularly have more than 4 drinks in a day.
  • Drinking has made you careless about the safety of yourself, your family, or others.
  • Unable to stop drinking after a few drinks.
  • You drink alone.
  • Need or routinely have a drink at a specific time of the day.
  • Drinking at work, school, or in the morning.
  • Drinking has caused problems at home or with your job.
  • Your ambition has decreased because of drinking.
  • You have lost productivity due to drinking.
  • Relationships have been lost or harmed by drinking.
  • You use alcohol to cope with emotional problems, worries, or other troubles.
  • You drink to boost your self-confidence
  • Your drinking causes regret and/or remorse.
  • Drinking helps you feel more comfortable in social situations.
  • You lower your standards with friends and companions when drinking.
  • Drinking is contributing to financial or legal difficulties.
  • Drinking causes you to have difficulty sleeping.
  • You have blacked out or had memory loss during drinking episodes.
  • You needed medical attention or treatment for drinking.

Drug Abuse


Addiction has spiritual, biological, psychological and social causes. It may begin with curiosity, fun with friends, or to relieve stress, anxiety, or depression. Ultimately, though, there are many harmful consequences. With addiction, individuals are unable to control their drug use and may sincerely want to quit, but use continues despite the harm it causes.

12 Step Resources:

Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
Crystal Meth Anonymous
Marijuana Anonymous 


Here are many common characteristics of people who are addicted to drugs. If you identify with any combination of these behaviors, it is highly probable that drug addiction is a real problem.

  • You feel guilty about your drug use.
  • You use a drug to avoid your real emotions.
  • You crave the drug to feel normal.
  • You feel uncomfortable if your drug is not available so you keep a steady supply around.
  • Friends or family have expressed concern or complained about your behavior.
  • You sneak or hide your drug use from friends, family, or coworkers.
  • You have broken promises to control your using.
  • You have gone to work or school high
  • You need the drug in order to fall asleep or get the day started.
  • You have taken more than you have intended or overdosed.
  • You have switched to different drugs to control or reduce your consumption — or to prove to yourself that you’re not ‘addicted.’
  • You have financial, legal, or marital difficulties because of using.
  • You have you engaged in illegal activities in order to obtain drugs.
  •  You have had medical problems as a result of drug use (such as memory loss, blackouts or flashbacks, hepatitis, convulsions, bleeding)?
  • When you stopped taking the drugs, you have withdrawal symptoms (felt sick).


Prescription Medication Abuse


Prescription drug abuse is taking a prescription drug that is not prescribed for you, or taking it for reasons or in dosages other than as prescribed. Addiction often occurs after a legal and legitimate need for painkillers has occurred, such as after major surgery or injury.  These drugs are often believed to be safer than street drugs, however, they are just as dangerous as every other drug. As with most other illicit drugs, continued abuse of medications can lead to withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped. 

12 Step Resources:

Pills Anonymous

Here are some behaviors that may indicate prescription medication addiction:

  • You have taken a prescription drug without a prescription, even for its intended use.
  • You take a prescription or over-the-counter drug to get high, to “get going” or to “calm down.”
  • You have taken a drug in a way in which it was not intended such as crushing, swallowing, sniffing, or injecting.
  • You use a prescription drug just to feel normal or comfortable.
  • You have stolen drugs for money to buy more.
  • You have experienced withdrawal symptoms when you stop using drugs.
  • You have lost a job due to your prescription medication use.
  • You have been arrested for possession of a controlled substance.
  • You can’t get through the week without using drugs.
  • You have felt the need to cut down on your use of prescription drugs.
  • You are annoyed by remarks your friends or loved ones made about your use of prescription drugs.
  • You feel guilty or remorseful about your use of drugs.
  • You have faked an injury, ailment or other medical condition to get a prescription.