Are You Ready to Begin Alcohol or Drug Treatment?

You duck out of the room to take a substance that can make you feel good, have more energy or hold you for a while. After a quick inspection of your eyes, nose and breath, you scan your exit, hoping to make it back before anyone notices you left. Even if someone does notice and asks you where you were, you have a reason why you weren’t there. Taking quick breaks isn’t new; it’s a lifestyle.

The realization of being ready to stop using substances can happen in many ways.

Sneaking a sip, pill or drug can grow old. The lost hours or days can wear on you. Not knowing where your money went or being surprised by purchases arriving at your doorstep can cause financial stress. Feeling exhausted from not sleeping, poor nutrition and withdrawal from relationships can wear on you. Drinking alcohol or taking drugs used to make you feel good, melting away anxiety, depression or other emotions. Over time, you notice you need more of the substance to make you feel the way you felt when you first took it – when will this cycle come to a close?

Increased Use

The brain is a complex organ that has a massive amount of cells called neurons. Neurons are the control system for information. Each neuron sends signals to other neurons. If one receives enough signals, it will send them to another. 

Alcohol and drugs affect how your brain processes emotions or feelings. Substances block the signals sent from one neuron to another. Certain substances like heroin, opioids or marijuana can act as a neurotransmitter, a chemical compound at the end of a nerve that sends responses to other nerves because they can mimic the chemicals made by your brain. Other drugs like cocaine or amphetamines can activate an abnormal amount of natural neurotransmitters or block neurotransmitters’ reuse. Whether the substance is cocaine, marijuana, alcohol or an opioid, all substances interfere with the brain’s natural communication system.

When you began to use a substance, you didn’t need a lot to achieve your desired feeling. At first, you used your preferred substance with friends or in social situations. The use was a regular part of hanging out. Getting together included watching the game, playing a sport or working on a project — the occasion didn’t matter. However, you noticed you needed more or you began to use it outside of social activities. 

Substance use can lead to addiction. Ask yourself how often you drink or use a drug. Think about how you felt after you drank or used a drug. Some signs of substance addiction are:

  • Loss of control over actions
  • Increased craving for the substance
  • Seeking out the substance despite risks
  • Damaged relationships — friends and family
  • Problems at work — losing a job, demotion or warnings
  • Lack of appetite
  • Increased appetite
  • Decreased interest in activities previously enjoyed

Increased use of a substance heightens the risk of long-term damage to your brain, organs or mental health. This could signal you to realize that it’s time to seek help for drug or alcohol use.

Aging Out

Aging out means a few things. In some cultures, there are markers of achievements for certain times in a person’s life. The expectations to achieve the goals in each phase of life can help you seek treatment for your addiction. The process of aging out can happen at any age.  

In general, society assumes you can lead the life laid out by social standards. You go to school, maybe go to college, graduate, get a job, get married and have kids. If you started to use a substance while you were in high school, it is possible to continue your use throughout college or the beginning part of your career. 

However, many people curb or stop using substances because they move into the next phase of their life. Growing up and taking on responsibility at work or in relationships means, for many, the need to stop using substances. Substances can affect your work productivity or the relationships you have with your colleagues. When you are under the influence of a substance, you can miss deadlines, fail to make meetings or cause strife. Substance use can lead to your dismissal from a job.

You may decide to quit substances because you want to develop a healthy relationship with yourself and others. Meaningful relationships with others can encourage healthy living. Unhealthy life choices can take their toll on any relationship. They often block your ability to connect purposefully with others. Society and your family await the time when you are married and have children. This stage in your life can create a need to seek treatment. You may want to build a strong relationship with your spouse, or the prospect of a child or having a child can lead to the realization you can benefit from being sober.

Don’t try to stop using substances on your own. Stopping using substances like alcohol, cocaine, opioids or other drugs requires trained medical staff.  Whenever you choose to replace unhealthy habits with healthy habits, take the steps necessary to prevent physical or emotional damage. 

A Need to Change: Seeking Treatment

Once you feel the need to change, it is time to consider addiction treatment. Treatments can include detoxification, partial hospitalization, residential, intensive outpatient or outpatient therapy. Addiction treatment is a positive step to take back your control. Whether you decide to stop using substances because you aged out or noticed an increased need for substances, you are choosing to change your life. Make an appointment with a therapist at a treatment center and discuss your thoughts about your use, goals, and level of care you might need. Comprehensive addiction treatment creates a foundation for a healthy recovery journey. 


The choice to stop using substances like alcohol, opioids, cocaine or marijuana is personal. Societal expectations can play a part in your will to live. It does not determine when you achieve a phase in your life. You can transform your life at any point. When you are tired of being tired, alone, continually seeking your next use or sneaking around, you can begin to heal through addiction treatment. The decision to quit using substances can influence how you envision life after addiction. Cliffside Malibu provides a serene, private setting for you to learn why you used substances. We work with you to find meaningful ways to address triggers for use. When you enter treatment at Cliffside Malibu, you have the support of a caring addiction team that will continue to provide help after you leave our center. You came to us seeking relief from addiction. We offer you the skills you need to realize your goals.