Is your life unmanageable? Everybody goes through periods in their lives where certain areas become difficult and unmanageable. If you suffer from substance abuse the chances are that ALL of your life is unmanageable, all of the time and only getting worse. You have become attached to the chaos and drama that accompanies substance abuse.

Taking a look at how unmanageable your life has become is one of the first activities you engage in when you enter treatment. It is not pretty. Looking at the effects that drugs and alcohol have on your life is painful, but necessary. You cannot start anew if you don’t have a grasp on how drugs and alcohol have impacted your life, and what you need to change.

When you are clean and sober your life can still become unmanageable. It will start off small and grow quickly into unmanageability and possibly relapse. There is work to be done every day in recovery to keep balance and manageability.

Catch yourself before the worst happens or you find yourself back at square one.


Are you even turning up for work or school? Your punctuality, reliability, quality of work, and general attitude will soon see you out of a job. When you do show up, your interactions with coworkers are less than stellar. The quality of your work is sorely lacking in attention to detail or thoroughness.

You roll in late and leave early. Monday’s are usually a sick day, or a no show. As soon as you get a paycheck, you’re off on another bender.

Work or school soon falls by the wayside. All of your time is spent obtaining and using your substance of choice.


Are you constantly arguing with people? Are you creating hostile and argumentative environments because you want to cause chaos so you are justified in storming out and using? If you are constantly at logger-heads with people, and you blame everything on them, then it could be you.

You will be in the process, or will have replaced your non-using friends with a new group of people. Your new friends will have ties to drinking and using and will also have chaotic lives. Your recreational use has transmuted into daily use. You will only associate with people who you use with.

You will have replaced all of your favorite haunts and activities with those that support substance abuse. You will have given up all your hobbies and relaxation and filled in the time with substance use.

Your family will either straight up be enabling you, or constantly voicing concern, anger, or tossing out ultimatums. Your spouse or significant other will be angry all the time and you will most likely be sleeping on the couch, if you come home at night at all.

Your family will be trying to keep it together by taking up the slack to make daily routine as normal as possible. If any guilt or shame crosses your mind, you will replace the fleeting guilt with increasing amounts of alcohol or drugs.

You could well find yourself tossed out, single, and homeless.


If you drink or use regularly over a period of time it is almost a guarantee that you will end up in the legal system. DUI’s, DWI’s, drunk in public, disturbing the peace, domestic violence, child protective services, and accidents go hand in hand with substance abuse.

Statistically speaking you drive anywhere between 85-100 times drunk or high before getting caught. A disturbing statistic is 1 in every 10 people on the road around you is under the influence of something.

Even prescription medication will get you into trouble. It doesn’t matter what you’re under the influence of, if you get pulled over and the officer suspects you are under the influence, once arrested, you have to submit to a blood test.

A few years ago the makers of Ambien, a sleep med, suddenly cut the daily dosage for women in half. The drug is supposed to clear the system completely within 4 hours. There had been numerous reports of women having accidents, not recalling hours of their lives, and blackouts due to the fact that they process the drug differently than men.

Legal problems will get you fines, jail time, classes, drug testing, loss of driving privileges, loss of children, and a permanent record.

There is also the possibility that your actions will be directly responsible for the death of another person.


Your messy house will stay that way. The pride you used to have in your environment will disappear. Keeping things up is just too much work. Your waking hours are spent on substance use, not doing dishes, laundry, or vacuuming. It is too much work to bother cleaning up.

The garden, lawn and outside of your home will probably mirror the inside. Curb appeal is not a priority.

If you aren’t able to keep a job, or manage your finances, you are unlikely to be able to afford a mortgage or rent on an apartment or house.

If you live at home with family, paying rent to them is not a priority. Although it may take a while to get evicted, the process is inevitable.

You will find yourself in a shelter or homeless with continued substance use.


Any dentist, doctor, or mental health appointments will be missed and calls to reschedule ignored. Again, it is too much trouble and you don’t want to get in front of anyone professional who can call you out on your behavior or current health issues.

Running out of prescription meds, unless they are mind altering, will happen regularly. Instead of ordering ahead you will be scrambling to get them filled at the last possible moment.


While out and about drinking and drugging simple things like food, sleep, water, cleanliness and dressing well go by the wayside. You may get so wrapped up in your addiction hat days, if not weeks go by where you don’t look after yourself.

It is likely you will begin to suffer from psychological issues due to the chemical imbalances and lack of necessary basic needs. Regularly neglecting food, water, sleep, and cleanliness leads to physical and psychological issues over time.

It will be especially hard to look after yourself if you are without housing or staying in places that don’t have access to facilities.


There is an increased danger now that drugs are being laced with compounds and substances that are more potent and deadly then you can imagine. Mass overdoses have been experienced in increasing numbers and regularly make the headlines.

Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Carfentanil is 100 times stronger than fentanyl and 10,000 times stronger than morphine. This is what is being used to bulk up drugs like heroin, fake vicodin pills, spice, and synthetic club drugs. Carfentanil is so dangerous that .00002 grams can kill. This is what you are facing when buying street drugs. Mass overdoses are in regularly in the news. The danger is real.

You have no thoughts of the future and longevity is not even on your radar. The damage you are doing to your body is potentially permanent but symptoms are ignored. You always feel like crap anyway, so you won’t notice anything serious until disaster strikes and you find yourself hospitalized.


Your healthy values and morals will become seriously compromised by substance abuse. You will find yourself acting in ways that are completely contrary to your non-using self.

There are just about no limits to the lengths you will go to in order to obtain and use your substance of choice.

This includes lying, stealing, cheating, criminal actions, spiritual avoidance, and other core value distortions.

You will engage in behaviors that you could never have envisioned yourself being a part of.

There will be definite twinges of wrongness, which you will shrug off. It is too painful to think about the mess you’re making of your life.


Rational processing of thoughts, feelings and emotions will be impossible after a while. Almost anything will set you off. Any strong emotion will send you on a binge.

Negative thoughts and emotions will derail your self-esteem, your confidence, and your ability to respond appropriately.

You will become suspicious of other people and their motives. You will begin to feel like everyone is out to get you, or against you.

You will become unstable and unpredictable. People will avoid you. You will be argumentative and unpleasant to be around.

Denial, guilt, and shame will continue to drive your need for any substance that can shut the noise off.

Your roller coaster mind will keep you off balance and confused.


Having an alcohol or drug habit becomes expensive when you spend most of your waking hours obtaining and using enough to get through the day.

Making poor choices with finances and ‘forgetting’ to pay bills or meet financial responsibilities will see you lose vehicles, schooling, housing, utilities, and any other discretionary spending you had.

If it gets bad enough, you will start hocking your belongings in order to buy drugs. It is not a far step to bank fraud and stealing from friends and relatives or pimping yourself out.

You will have no way to earn money due to your poor state of mind.

Another way to burn through money is putting yourself and your friends up in seedy motels for the explicit purpose of partying over days or weeks.

There becomes very few options when your friends, family or significant others won’t stand for your behavior any longer and kick you out.


Addiction will change your entire reality. You will lose a great deal of your social and emotional support, physical and mental health, material goods, and your core values.

What used to be a fun or recreational pastime will engulf your life and turn it into something so unsavory you wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Substance use affects every single aspect of your life. The longer you abuse substances, the worse it gets.

You will not even know it’s happening until something drastic happens and you find yourself in jail, hospital, a Psych. Ward, or if you are lucky, in treatment.


What is the common denominator in all of your troubles? That would be you. You are the one making all the bad decisions and creating wreckage in your life.

Your defense mechanisms and coping skills are dysfunctional at best. Denial, defensiveness, blame, lying, cheating, stealing, self-medicating, and running wild is probably not how you envisioned your life.

You have probably lost sight of your lofty goals or dreams for your future. Normal activities, schedules, hobbies, a social life, and any joy or pleasure in life has been replaced with a substance.

If chaos is your normal, then your life is likely unmanageable.


One of the first assignments in treatment is looking at how unmanageable your life has become. This is an activity that makes you feel worse than you already do. Being faced with the reality of what your life has become is extremely difficult.

The beauty of stopping and taking a look at all of these areas is so you can make a plan. You plan step-by-step how to turn the negativity and problems around.

Taking a look at how and why things got so out of control will give your insight into what areas you need to work on. It gives you a starting point to build on.

It took time to blow up your life and it will take time to fix it. As long as you don’t drink or use, you have the power to get back on track.

Recovery is not for the faint of heart. It is a long road back to happiness and wellness, but the benefits are worth it.


Being in recovery does not guarantee that everything is going to go well all of the time. There will be difficulties along the way. Stress, responsibility and problems are normal. Learning how to cope with them is part of being in recovery.

Being self-aware is important so you can catch when you are letting things go. Recognizing when you are choosing to let things go is a big red flag.

If you are struggling to maintain work or school, household chores or tasks, paying bills on time, forgetting appointments, ignoring phone calls and emails, or isolating yourself are signs that something is going on with you.

Red flags such as Irritability, insomnia, argumentativeness, and general malaise and unhappiness should be addressed quick smart. Any sudden change should be investigated.

When one area of your life becomes the focus you lose the balance in your life. Getting absorbed or hyper focused on one problem means sacrificing other areas that also need attention.

Any form of unmanageability in recovery can lead to slips and full blown relapse.

You have worked way too hard to blow up the progress you have made.


Unmanageable is subjective. It will look different for each person struggling with substance abuse, or struggling to remain in recovery. Everyone has ups and downs, but for people in recovery it is critical to look at what is going on.

The first step is to stop your substance abuse. Nothing will get better if you continue to drink or use. Guaranteed, everything is going to get a lot more complicated.

Treatment should be your first stop. Getting stabilized and prioritizing problems and setting goals to solve them is part of your treatment plan.

To counter unmanageability the key is to know what to look out for. The more you know about coping with and solving problems that come up for you, the stronger your recovery will be.

When you begin to feel stressed out, stop and figure out why. It will become apparent as you run through your mind.

Don’t forget to ask for help if you can’t solve a problem on your own. Sometimes just getting a second opinion will put things in perspective.

How is your life unmanageable? What kind of problem causes you the most stress? What are you good at dealing with when it comes up unexpectedly?

Find out how to banish negative self-talk to build self-esteem and confidence. Setting goals for yourself will give you a sense of accomplishment, find out how to use SMART goal setting. Remove toxic people from your life, learn the warning signs and how to cope.

For inspiration and additional resources, click here.

To download a pdf copy of this post, click here.


If you enjoyed this post, please share on social media. I would greatly appreciate it.

unmanageable life recovery ends chaos

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *