How deep is your involvement with heroin?

Dr. John Ewing, founding director of the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has designed a simple test to determine if a person has a problem with substance abuse:

  • Have you ever felt you should cut back on your heroin use?
  • Have other people annoyed you by their criticisms of your drug use?
  • Have you ever felt guilty about using heroin?
  • Do you think of heroin as something you need as an everyday thing, to get through your day?

If you answered “yes” to the four questions that comprise Dr. Ewing’s “CAGE” test, then heroin is a problem in your life – and you need to get help

Other Questions to Ask Yourself

Another way of determining your involvement with heroin is to look at the book that doctors use when they diagnose substance abuse as a medical condition. If you have the symptoms of substance abuse as listed in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, you are a candidate for treatment.

  • In the past year, has your heroin use interfered with your obligations at work, school, or home? Interferences may come in the form of being absent too often from school or work, or being unable to do your work or make grades at school because of your problem with heroin. The problems may also involve neglecting your children, other family members, or friends.
  • In the past year, have you put yourself and/or others in physical danger when you drove a car, used machinery, performed sports or other physical tasks while you were under the influence of heroin?
  • In the past year, has your heroin use caused you problems with family members and friends? Are you getting into arguments – or even physical fights? Are your social problems getting worse or being made worse by your habit?

Answering “yes” to either of the following questions is also a strong indication that you need to get help for your addiction:

  • Do you suffer from withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using heroin?
  • Do you find yourself using higher doses of heroin to achieve the same highs you got when you first started using?

The basic question doctors ask is, “Do you continue to use heroin even though it is causing problems?” The problems may be about money, family relationships, ability to hold down your job, involvement with the police, or even constant guilt. If heroin is damaging your life and yet you continue to use it, then you qualify as a candidate for treatment.