You wouldn’t choose to be unhealthy. But, sometimes, we encounter things in life that aren’t “choices” in the true sense at all. And if you’ve found that alcohol or drugs are becoming a larger part of your life, or that the role they play is already so great as to negatively impact your life, then you need to seriously consider what your habits might be doing to your health — and how you might change those habits and reclaim a healthy, substance-free life.

What substance abuse does to your health

It’s no secret that excessive consumption of any dangerous substance, from alcohol to opiates, can be devastating to your health. But it’s worth reiterating just how terrible the consequences can be.

Alcohol, opiates, and many other drugs can poison and kill you in a relatively short period of time. It is possible to overdose on these drugs; simply ingesting too much of the dangerous substance can kill you, and this happens far too often. Tragically, overdose deaths are on the rise in the United States.

Surviving each binge drinking or drug use session does not, of course, get you off scot-free. On the contrary: There are a great many short- and long-term health problems associated with substance abuse. They’re nearly countless and sometimes even self-contradictory; alcoholism, for instance, can make you gain weight or make you lose it, depending on your other habits and the severity of your issue. Long-term issues include increased cancer rates, liver damage, and brain damage; alcohol shares many of these consequences with other drugs.

Addressing a substance abuse issue

If you have a substance abuse issue, then you are exposing yourself to the health risks outlined above. But how can you know if you have a substance abuse issue?

The simplest and most tried-and-true way to find out is to ask yourself one question: Does your use of the substance in question interfere with the way that you want to live your life? Are you wrecking relationships because you can’t stop getting high? Are you missing days at work because you’re too hungover to come in? Are you getting in trouble for driving under the influence? Are other bad decisions stemming from your use of alcohol or drugs?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you likely have a substance abuse issue. Unfortunately, getting to that “yes” may be tough. Denial is a huge part of addiction, and it can trick just about anyone into thinking that they don’t have a substance abuse problem and that they “can quit whenever they want.”

Taking online quizzes may help you see the truth. So might turning to a mental health professional, especially a counselor or psychologist who specializes in addiction and recovery.

Once you’re ready to admit that you have a problem with substance abuse, you need to seek help. A true substance abuse problem is simply not something that should be addressed alone. You’ll need the support of mental health professionals, and you may want to seek the positive and cleansing environment of a good rehab, explain the experts at a respected alcohol rehab in Toronto. You may also find that twelve-step programs and peer support groups are crucial to helping you get sober — and staying that way.

And make no mistake: Sobriety is a lifelong commitment. You can kick a substance abuse habit, but you can’t kick addiction. Relapse is a real danger for those in recovery, so rely on the experts and on your other sources of support. With the right allies and commitment on your part, you can find the better life that you deserve.