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Am I Chemically Dependent on Drugs?

Updated on January 16, 2013

If you find yourself consistently using alcohol or drugs on a daily or regular basis, you may be chemically dependent or addicted to a substance. Chemically dependence is defined by the body’s inability to function normally without a particular substance, and the control over the use of drugs or alcohol is impaired. Often, people who use a substance over a period of time will cause changes in their body that come to expect the substance in order to function and not experience withdrawal. Even if you stop the use of a substance, you may return to it eventually, even after years of abstinence. Chemical dependence occurs without logical or rational reasons and is often referred to as a baffling and bewildering disease of addiction.

Is Chemical Dependence or Addiction a Disease?

Disease is defined by the “interruption of the body’s ability to function normally.” Most would agree that diabetes, cancer, or any number of diseases or conditions would impair the body from functioning in a normal capacity. Obviously, addiction or dependence impairs the body’s ability to carry on with normal processes without alcohol or the drug of choice. Smoking, for instance, is a powerful addiction to nicotine that may render the chemically dependent person powerless to stop smoking, regardless of warnings of cancer, lung disease, and the possibility of lifelong supplemental use of oxygen.

Signs and Symptoms of Chemical Dependence

If you find yourself preoccupied with a mood-altering substance despite the warning signs and dangers of continued use, you may be chemically addicted. The brain now believes that the chemical is more important for survival than food and powerful coping mechanism, known as denial, will promote thought distortion and actually help you to justify the drug or alcohol use without experiencing guilt or remorse.

  • Continuous or periodic use of a substance despite willpower or logic
  • Fear of not having access to substance
  • Use of substance regardless of harmful effects, negative consequences, or effects on relationships
  • Signs and symptoms of uncomfortable and life-threatening withdrawal effects on the body
  • Inability to function appropriately without the use of the drug or alcoholic substance
  • Attempted detoxification of the substance but unable to achieve complete abstinence
  • You make excuses and rationalize your drinking or drug use no matter what the circumstances

Am I Chemically Dependent?


Why do I Use Drugs or Alcohol?

People who are prone to depression may self medicate with alcohol or drugs and have a high risk of becoming chemically addicted to a substance or substances. Depression is a painful and uncomfortable state that may be alleviated by smoking, drinking alcohol, or abusing prescription or illicit drugs. Unfortunately, the person may become addicted and chemically dependent on the substance over a period of time. Once the body has adjusted to the toxic side effects of drugs and alcohol, withdrawal will ensue when the substance is no longer being consumed.

Signs and Symptoms of Chemical Dependence

Signs of Abuse
Symptoms of Dependence
Possible Outcomes
Increased use of substance
Denial of substance abuse
Chemical Dependence with withdrawal if substance is stopped abruptly
Increased preoccupation with the substance
Fear of not having the substance on hand
Increased dependence on substance with fear of withdrawal
Continued substance abuse regardless of harmful effects
Health problems, legal problems or relationship problems with continued use
The Chemical dependence is more important that survival itself

Are You Chemically Dependent?

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If You Score 50-100 Percent

A score of over 50 percent is a sign that you may be chemically dependent on a substance. Please consult your physician and discuss the possibility of your addiction and treatment options. This information is not meant to replace professional medical assistance or to diagnose any conditions or disease.


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    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 4 years ago

      ...well I think I am chemically dependent on you Deborah and your world class hub presentations where I am always learning something new and interesting. I hope sincerely all is well in your life these days and I am sending you warm wishes and good energy to you from Colin and his cats at lake erie time ontario canada 10:54am and yes since I have been taking my anti-depressent/anxiety pills along with my blood pressure pill I am wondering if I am chemically dependent on them now because it's the best thing I've ever done for my health and they seem to be working very well for me

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Wonderful hub Deborah. I'm glad I have no addictions whatsoever. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and useful.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Pam, I appreciate your support, and thanks for stopping by!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      This is a very informative hub and hopefully it will help people who might be questioning the amount of drugs they consume or how much they drink. You explained this topic very well.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Extremely useful hub! The quiz will be really helpful to people.

    • tipstoretireearly profile image

      tipstoretireearly 4 years ago from New York

      Very well written article. I especially found the list of signs & symptoms of chemical dependence to be interesting. I luckily avoid drugs and all but the occasional drink of alcohol. But I must admit that most of the signs and symptoms would apply to my love of coffee (and its caffeine). Voted up!

    • onegreenparachute profile image

      Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

      Hi eHealer: As someone who suffers from depression and was addicted to alcohol I appreciate your Hub. It has been many years since I last drank and, thank God, I haven't forgotten the devastation booze caused. Up and awesome!

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hey Jackie, that is just wonderful that your nicotine free! I have been free about 22 years and still dream of them, but I never think about smoking when I'm awake. I don't ever want to go back there!! Thanks for your supportive comments!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Nope, I sure am not. Been over ten years free of cigarettes! Which they had and probably still have loaded with narcotics! I wished years ago they would outlaw them and still wish they would, I mean even drug addicts don't have to have something burning almost every minute?! I will never get over the nastiness of them! Thank God I am free of them, and they being the least of the bad.