This question can be asked by the CEO of a large corporation, an unemployed parent of five, or a freshman in high school. Addiction does not judge us by our age, race, or status and substance abuse does not spare those who give it room to work in their lives. If we are honest, and remain self-aware, we may address the issue early and make adjustments now that will only become more difficult if we wait. In reality many of us need to be approached multiple times by others and forced to reflect before asking ourselves: Am I an addict? How do I even know if I’m addicted?

The way to identifying if we are dependent is through a dialog of total honesty. We must honestly assess to what degree we choose our substance over everything else in our lives, particularly when our relationships, job, and health begin to suffer. One place to start is with this valid and easy self-test.

The CAGE Test for Alcohol Addiction

  1. Have you ever felt that you should Cut down on your drinking?
  2. Have you ever felt Annoyed when people have commented on your drinking?
  3. Have you ever felt Guilty about your drinking?
  4. Have you ever felt that you needed an Eye opener, a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?

Though many self-test questionnaires were designed to evaluate alcohol addiction, they are easily adapted for other addictions.

  1. Have you ever thought you should Cut down on your drug use?
  2. Have you ever felt Annoyed when people have commented on your use?
  3. Have you ever felt Guilty about your use?
  4. Have you ever used drugs to Ease withdrawal symptoms, or to avoid feeling low?

The most important question in the CAGE questionnaire is E: The use of a drink in the morning as an Eye Opener or using drugs to help Ease feeling low. Often, clinicians may use a “yes” to this question alone as positive test for a substance disorder. This is because using so early in the day and in such a context indicates that the user is experiencing withdrawal and thus is dependent.

What do I do once I learn I am addicted?

Acknowledging you have an addiction is a crucial part of recovery but ultimately must be followed with action. Seek help through friends and family and reach out to a rehabilitation centre that fits your needs. You have to take steps to remove the drug or alcohol from your life and replace the behaviour of using with one that is edifying, something no self-test can accomplish.

Begin by avoiding the places that you would go in order get drugs and alcohol and where you use them. Separate yourself from the people you use with, those that supply you or encourage your use, and people you may have conflict with, that indirectly leads you to use. Finally, be very aware of the things that helped you use, or that remind you of using, and remove as many as possible from your life.

The ultimate goal is to remove the substance abuse and reclaim our life. Our lives will not look the same as they did before addiction and some relationships will be forever damaged. Forging new relationships with the people, objects, duties, and pleasures that each of our lives contains will be a slow and difficult process, and the only way forward from addiction.