What is Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain and body similar to other chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes or heart disease. It is considered a brain disease because drugs can change the brain’s structure and how the brain works. These brain changes can be long-lasting and lead to harmful health and social consequences.

How do I know if my alcohol/substance use is a problem?

Substance use disorder symptom checklist

Use the checklist below to determine if your use of substances falls into the range of risky or problem use:

  • Have you had drinking- or drug-related problems with your job, relationships, health or the law?
  • Have friends or family been concerned about your drinking or drug use?
  • Have you experienced nausea, sweating, shakiness or anxiety when trying to stop your drinking or drug use?
  • Are you pregnant and continuing to drink or use drugs? (Note: Even moderate use during pregnancy can be harmful to your fetus.)

Interactive tool

Our alcohol use disorder interactive tool can help you decide if your drinking is dangerous or unhealthy, or if you may be addicted to alcohol.  

Treatment can help

Call your health care provider if:

  • You are concerned about your use of alcohol, cocaine, or other illicit or prescription drugs, and you want help.
  • You answered "yes" to any of the questions in the substance use disorder symptom checklist.
  • The alcohol use disorder tool indicates you may have a problem.
  • You suspect that you, your child or someone close to you has a substance use problem.

Your provider can help you determine whether you have a problem, and if so, recommend the best course of action. Keep in mind, the sooner you get help, the better your chances are for a successful recovery.