Question

Substance Abuse and Addiction

How do I know if I'm addicted to something?

A Answers (1)

  • AJill Grimes, MD, Family Medicine, answered

    If the thought of giving up a habit for a week produces anxiety, then you may have a problem.


    There are many definitions of substance abuse, but I have a favorite one that a wise attending physician taught me during medical school. He said that when patients ask him if they need to cut back on something, he would reply, “ If I tell you that you absolutely cannot have it for the next thirty days, what would you say?”


    It’s really a great gut check. If your doctor tells you no wine with dinner for the next month, and you feel an immediate panic or protest, perhaps you’ve become too dependent on that habit. It is true that most experts agree that a glass of red wine per day enhances your health, as long as you have no medical issues precluding alcohol (liver issues, medications that interact with alcohol, etc.). But, what we think is healthy is a 4-ounce glass of wine. When is the last time you poured yourself only 4 ounces in a lovely red wine glass? And do you stop at one?


    The point is not to pick on wine at dinner but to point out that it’s healthy to occasionally step back and look at your indulgent habits and see if you are becoming too dependent upon them.

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