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Recovery Coach Resources: 5 Symptoms of Substance Abuse and 5 Tips to Overcome it

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A recovery coach has an arsenal of resources to help you spot symptoms of substance abuse, and tools to help you overcome it. Here is a sampling of some of the best.

Symptoms of substance abuse

There are many symptoms of substance abuse that I could list, but the following 5 are the ones that will be the most noticeable.

  1. Neglecting Responsibilities­: Whether it is at home or at work, there is an increase in forgetfulness or just plain loss of desire to take care of certain responsibilities. At one point in time, these duties were important, even pleasurable, but with an increase in use of alcohol or drugs, these responsibilities have taken a back seat. You may notice that certain social activities that once provided pleasure are taking a back seat because drinking has become more important.
  2. Using alcohol or drugs when it is unsafe­: We all are aware that drinking and driving is dangerous, but when it becomes a problem, there will be various excuses like: “I wasn't that drunk,” or “I didn't have far to go,” or “I had no choice.” Another symptom of substance abuse is when a person drinks or drugs against medical advisement, whether it be because of certain interactions with medication or a condition brought on by the use itself or something else. The person has clearly become dependent if they can’t stay away even with the stern warning of the physician.
  3. Having trouble in relationships: Whether with a spouse, partner or the kids, declining relationships is a sign that something is not right. There may be an increase in arguments or just plain disengagement, but the relationship has noticeable changes. It may be because “you are nagging too much,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Blaming the state of the relationship on the other person and what they are doing is a clear sign of impaired thinking. Someone who has a drinking/drug problem does not want to be called out on it. Another sign is the continued use of alcohol or drugs despite the unhappiness of the people around you. That may cause the person with the problem to start hiding their use.
  4. Using alcohol/drugs to destress: It may have started out as an "after work" drink to relax, but quickly has escalated to an every day stress reliever. If alcohol or drugs are the only coping skills and it takes more and more to feel relaxed, then it is a problem. There may be a feeling of entitlement for having the drinks such as: “My life is so stressful,” or “I deserve this because it is my only source of fun.” These are lies they tell themselves to justify continued use.
  5. Unkept Promises: How many times have there been promises to quit or cut down only to go back to it after a brief period of time. Many hopes have been raised only to have a big let down. Then there are the promises to show up at an event or party. They either show up late or not at all. These are followed with any number of excuses, none of which make sense.

When someone is deep within the throes of drinking/drug use, it is hard for them to tell the truth. However, THEY believe what they are saying most of the time. There are times when they are sober and you remember why you love them, but then they get drunk and start the cycle all over again.

There are many situations in life where success has come easy to the drinker, but not with quitting alcohol or drugs. They can’t seem to get a handle on their use. The following is just a few suggestions if they WANT to stop.


5 Tips to Overcome Substance Abuse

  1. Remember when... Think back to a time when you felt good. When all was right with the world. Get all your senses involved: what did it feel, smell, sound and taste like. Really feel the emotions wash over you. This is what you are trying to get from alcohol and drugs, but the truth is you won't find it in a pill or a bottle. Life gets complicated and stress increases, but all those good feelings can be yours again, once you put down the drink/drug.
  2. Make a commitment­​... Living on the edge and lying to the people you love is not what you are all about. You are a slave to the alcohol and drugs and are trapped. Say to yourself, "today is the day I will not (fill in the blank)". Start small and hold yourself accountable (better yet, have someone else hold you accountable.) Put together some days and you will be so proud of yourself. Everyday that you don’t drink or drug, think about the repair you are doing to your body, family and friends.
  3. One act of kindness... ­It is proven that one act of kindness has a powerful and lasting effect on those we love. For a long time, spouses, partners and children have viewed you in a way that is not who you really are. Show some love and kindness and work towards recapturing their hearts.
  4. Find a de­stressor... ­There are as many ways to relieve the stress as there are people in this world. You have to find one that works for you. Some people find that exercise is key for them, while others require a bath and a cup of tea. This is personal and found through trial and error, but do find something for this is key. Many reasons people turn to alcohol and drugs are for relief of stress and a heathy alternative is necessary if you want to quit.
  5. D​o what you say you are going to do​­​...All the times that you have said you would show up and didn't or showed up late can wreak havoc on those around you. If you say you are going to show up to your child's recital, then do it! If your spouse or partner wants to go out to dinner, do it and show up on time. This will go a long way in repairing relationships that have been damaged because drinking or doing drugs has taken center stage.


If you are looking for a coach to help with abuse recovery, schedule a free coaching call with Ginger Berkelhamer, professional recovery coach.


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