What is Addiction?

What is Addiction Part 1: Explaining Addiction & Questions to Ask Yourself

Estimated watch time: 4 mins 45 secs


An addiction can be characterized by substance use taking precedence over other areas of your life. You may be preoccupied with the use of that substance. With an addiction, you might continue to use the substance despite negative effects.

This video covers a set of questions to ask yourself to determine if you should speak to a professional. Addiction is a treatable disease, but recognition is necessary to take that step.

Video Materials:


What is Addiction?

Hi and welcome to our lesson on ‘What is Addiction?’

So, let’s talk about what addiction is. It’s a compulsive need to use a substance despite the consequences to you or to others. It’s when the need to drink or use starts to override the people and things that are important in your life. When you are so preoccupied with drinking or using that more and more of your time is spent using, recovering from using, and planning to use again. And all other things start to fall to the wayside when you continue to use, despite the negative impact it has on one or more aspects of your life, whether that’s your physical well-being, your emotional well-being, your important relationships or your productivity.

So, you may be asking, do you have an addiction? Well, this can be a hard question to answer. And it can also be a very hard thing to accept. As I go through the following list, keep in mind what you would answer ‘Yes’ to.  You will have a chance to complete this exercise after this lesson.

  • Have you tried to cut down and failed?
  • Have you spent more time thinking about or engaging in using rather than anything else you intended?
  • Do you continue to engage in your using behavior, even though it has directly or indirectly caused you multiple problems, whether that’s health, relationship, financial, legal problems?
  • Do you get angry or defensive if someone expresses concern about your behavior?
  • Do you need to use more alcohol or drugs than you used to, to feel the same desired effect?
  • Does the same amount of alcohol or drugs not do what it used to do?
  • When you don’t have alcohol or drugs, are you uncomfortable physically or emotionally?
  • Have you used alcohol or another substance to make yourself feel better than you were due to coming down from alcohol or drugs?
  • Do you think about alcohol or drugs frequently?
  • And until you’ve acted on an urge by drinking or using, is it very hard to get out of your head?
  • Have you made rules for yourself concerning how much you will drink or use, but unable to stick to them?
  • Have you tried to quit or cut back your use of alcohol or drugs but we’re not able to?
  • Have you found yourself drinking or using more than you had planned or for a longer period than you meant to?
  • Have you felt at times you couldn’t fit in or feel good without using alcohol or drugs?
  • Have you used alcohol or drugs when you are feeling upset or angry with someone?
  • Have you blacked out or had periods of time for which you have no memory when under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
  • Have you overdosed on drugs?
  • Have used one or more drugs without knowing what it was or how it would affect you?
  • Does the thought of running out of drugs or alcohol make you anxious?
  • Have you been arrested or had other legal problems as a result of drinking or using?
  • Have you stolen things to pay for alcohol or drugs?
  • Have you made mistakes at work or school because of your use of drugs or alcohol?
  • Has your use of drugs or alcohol hurt your relationship with others?
  • Have you been unable to fulfill important role obligations such as household chores, financial responsibilities, caring for children or other loved ones as a result of drinking or using?
  • Have you lost interest in hobbies or things you used to enjoy while increasing the time you spend drinking or using, despite your awareness of one or more negative aspects of alcohol or drugs on some aspect of your life or ability to function?  Do you find yourself continuing to drink or use drugs anyway?
  • Have you not taken good care of yourself because of your alcohol or drug use? For example, not eating well or not practicing good hygiene.
  • Has your drinking or drug use caused or worsened existing psychological or medical problems, depression, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, for example?

This is not a diagnostic tool, but it can help you to take a look at your behaviors and make a decision for yourself as to whether or not you think you’re drinking or using too much. If any of these are true for you, you may seek an evaluation by an addiction professional and we can help you with that. Know that addiction is a very treatable disease. Many, many people obtain and maintain sobriety all the time. And this is something you can do.

Thank you for choosing The Recovery Village.  If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health or substance abuse and would like to find out more about the programs we offer, please reach out to us directly at 855-387-3291.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.