Addiction and the Myth of the Weekend Substance User
“I only use (fill in the blank) on the weekends, therefore I cannot be addicted to it.” The denial of addiction and the myth of the weekend substance user have been the subject of many debates. Whether the weekend user is a parent, spouse, child, sibling, friend or co-worker – trying to get them to see that their weekend use is in fact an addiction can be difficult.
What Does Science Say About Addiction?
While many may argue that substance use is a choice and not a disease, the American Psychiatric Association cites that “Addiction is defined as a maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by three (or more) of the following, occurring any time in the same 12-month period:
- The individual develops a tolerance – a need for increased amounts of the substance to achieve the desired effect or diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance.
- Withdrawal: the same substance is taken to relieve withdrawal symptoms; the substance is taken in larger amounts to avoid withdrawal
- Desire to have more of the substance and unsuccessful in cutting down on the substance
- The individual obsesses about using, preoccupation with getting more of the substance; neglecting routines/responsibilities to engage in substance use. The individual continues to engage in substance use even when their life begins to fall apart as a result of their substance use.
At the same time the American Medical Association writes that alcoholism and drug addiction are “a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psycho social, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by imparted control over drinking/using, preoccupation with the drug/alcohol, use of alcohol/drug despite adverse consequences, and distortion in thinking, most notably denial. Each of these symptoms may be continuous or periodic.” (1992) Moreover, the DSM-III (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) classified drug and alcohol use as a substance abuse disorder in which there are mental, emotional and behavioral symptoms present including a loss of control and inability to stop using even when there are dire consequences present.
The “My Weekend Use is Not Addiction” Argument
It is not uncommon for persons who only use on the weekend or only binge drink every once in a while to argue that their substance use is not an addiction. However, if it has led to the development of tolerance, has resulted in a breakdown in their relationships, problems at work or school, or legal and financial troubles… it may be a good time to reevaluate the effects of their “weekend use.”
Dealing with Substance Use Head On
Chronic use of any substance can lead to addiction. For most people overcoming an alcohol and/or drug addiction requires professional detox treatment followed by rehab, participation in behavioral therapy and/or a community support group such as a 12- Step. Are you worried that your weekend substance use may actually be an addiction and you need help? Call Gallus Detox Center today, at 855-338-6929 for a confidential consultation. Help is here!