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It can be difficult for people to distinguish whether or not they have a drug or alcohol problem, especially if they are using drugs or alcohol to cope with life. Many individuals who suffer from addiction didn’t start out that way, and certainly, no one wants to become an addict. But life gets in the way sometimes, and when people turn to drugs or alcohol, it’s often because that is the best way they know how to cope with whatever is going on in their lives. While drug use or drinking might have started out as a way to “escape” life, it can quickly turn into addiction if people continually return to those vices for comfort and coping. If you think you or someone you know is using drugs or alcohol to manage your emotions, here’s how you can tell.


Expressing Emotions

We all know someone who is “more fun” when they have a few drinks on a Friday night, but drinking can be a coping mechanism for a lot of people. If you or someone you know suffers from anxiety or social angst, you might find yourself reaching for a few more bottles of beer to relax. When people are relaxed, they can express their emotions easier, but it doesn’t always come out the way people intended. More often than not, people end up getting hurt, and you or the person using alcohol to express emotions end up feel regretful or embarrassed by their behavior. Still, though, many people turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to “bring out” what they consider to be the real them.


Masking Emotions

Some people drink or use drugs as a way to hide feelings of anxiety, stress, or even boredom. When people perceive there is a lack of entertainment, they might feel compelled to create their own. Sometimes, people drink or use drugs as a way to feel something other than what they currently feel and that can turn into an addiction if it is continued over time. Of course, people realize that their problems or worries are still going to be there when they wake up in the morning, so they drink more or do more drugs.


Avoiding Emotions

People hate to feel uncomfortable or sad, worried or anxious. When life gets the best of us, it can be hard to cope and deal with the cards we’ve been dealt. If you have ever gone out on a bender trying to avoid dealing with your life, you know that it doesn’t get you any further ahead in life, but it does take the edge off for a short time. Similar to masking emotion, avoiding emotion is a common problem amongst drug and alcohol users. If they are too busy doing other things, i.e., drinking or doing drugs, they can’t solve the problem in front of them.

When it comes to recognizing a drug or drinking addiction, it can be difficult to admit that you might have one. Even more challenging is the task of approaching someone you care about and asking them if they think they have an addiction. If you aren’t sure, assessing how you or your loved one use drugs or alcohol in relation to your emotions can be a good place to start. And if you think you have an addiction, seek help as soon as possible so you can get back to living your life.