The Top 7 Signs of Addiction
In a climate where alcohol is everywhere, pills are often over prescribed, pot is almost legal and street drugs are pretty easy to score, a vulnerable person can get caught up in an addictive, compulsive loop.
Spouses are concerned about their partners, parents are concerned about their children and business owners are concerned about their employees.
When someone finds that they are no longer in control of using whatever it is they are using, we generally see them as addicted.
The dictionary defines addiction as: “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming (such as narcotics) to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.”
We can apply this definition to almost anything such as compulsive over-eating, gambling or even working out at the gym.
In our society there is a tendency to overdo things. We seek out newer and better experiences, we want more space, we crave more excitement, and we seem to need more attention.
Some people almost always want more, often not satisfied or grateful for what they actually have.
The dissatisfaction with oneself can be the beginning of a downward spiral.
Instead of looking within and soul searching (through therapy, religion or any other means available) the person seeks comfort in the escape substances appear to offer.
That apparent escape, however, becomes the trap that creates even more dissatisfaction and self-loathing.
We all have a responsibility to point out to someone we care about that we are concerned about their behavior. We cannot afford to be timid about this, too much is at stake.
Addictions and compulsive behaviors come in many varieties.
There is of course substance abuse and drug and alcohol addiction. But there are also many other types such as gambling, food, sex, exercise and even love.
Whether you believe some of these are actual addictions or define them as compulsive behaviors the signs are similar.
Perhaps you, a loved one or someone you know is struggling with one of these issues. It is not always easy to see.
The Top 7 Signs of Addiction
If you notice any of these present in someone you know and care about please bring it to their attention.
1) Change in Attitude or Personality: Someone who has typically been upbeat and connected shows signs of becoming aloof and negative, withdrawing or isolating. I am not referring to someone having a bad day…we all have those from time to time. I am referring to a pattern shift which is not making sense to you.
2) Change in Mood: Here I am talking about sudden shifts of mood or mood swings, a lack of patience or tolerance, an increase in edginess or sudden jumps to anger. If a spouse has always been edgy or angry you may now notice that it is happening with more frequency or intensity.
3) Change in Motivation: Work or school now takes a back seat. You may notice what looks like a lack of energy or drive. Someone who has previously been sharp is now lethargic and uninterested.
4) Irresponsibility: He or she may forget to pick up the kids, buy the groceries, arrive at a dinner party or pay the bills. He may jeopardize work or career by being late or not showing up. There are likely to be excuses for this or any of the other types of behaviors but it becomes obvious that something is wrong.
5) Suspicious Behavior: Becoming more secretive, jumpy or even defensive when asked simple questions about where he or she is going or what they had for lunch, could be a signal for you to pay more attention. This type of behavior becomes more alarming if it is a real departure from a person’s normal behavior pattern.
6) Sloppy: Someone who has typically been well groomed begins showing up unkempt. I am not referring to someone showing up occasionally unshaven or having a bad hair day. There is a difference between that and inappropriate sloppiness which can be a sign of too much drinking or drug use. The person struggling with substance abuse will often try to cover up the hangover, wrinkled clothing or bloodshot eyes. They might use more makeup or mouthwash but to those who are paying attention, something appears wrong.
7) Risky or Self-Destructive Behavior: Driving under the influence, uncontrollable gambling, antagonistic behavior in public places, promiscuity, unsafe sex; these are just some examples of careless or risky behaviors. This type of behavior is especially concerning because of the risks to their safety and the safety of others.
The road to addiction is on a very slippery slope and he who travels it can one day find his life in ruins.
If you notice any of the above signs showing up in someone you care about I suggest you have a conversation with that person. If the behavior has been increasingly more disturbing to you I highly recommend seeking professional advice.
About the Author
Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. He specializes in treating addictions, anger, anxiety, stress, depression and work life balance. He also works with couples struggling with powerful issues such as infidelity, careers and intimacy.