For those of us who have hit our rock bottom, admitted we are addicts and alcoholics and started to live a new sober life, we can easily spot the signs of an addict. However, before I came into the rooms of a 12 step fellowship, I pictured an addict as a homeless person under a bridge or someone slumped over in a back alleyway of a big city. I never realized how absolutely manipulative and subtle the signs of addiction could be and how many people suffered from it. As someone who now works in the treatment field, I have become familiar with some warning signs that someone is an addict, despite whether they know it or not.
Addictions can vary for each person, sometimes it can be to alcohol, sometimes to a drug, and sometimes to eating, gambling, shopping or even nail biting. Obviously, some addictions are more dangerous than others, but once something starts to hinder a person's life in a negative way, there can be cause for concern.
1 - The Necessity of the Substance
The number one most common factor of addiction is when a person presents not only cravings but an actual physical dependence upon a substance. Again, the addictive substance can vary for everyone, but when a person must use whatever they are addicted to in order to FUNCTION, and they will put the use of their substance above everything else, they are in the grips of an addiction.
2 - It Interferes with Daily Life
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous makes a reference to the thought process of an alcoholic, who, trying to control their drinking, will go to any lengths to master their habit. It discusses the promises they keep with themselves to only drink at parties or switch up their preferred liquor, and even to quit their job if they are ever caught at work drunk. This thought process shows how far addicts will go to ensure that they can still function normally while using their substance. The downfall is that all of the plans to control their use are usually thrown out the window when they develop the physical and mental necessity to use their substance.
3 - The Craving is Never Satisfied
12 Step programs have a saying, "One is too many, and a thousand is never enough," in other words, once an addict has one, they will never be able to comfortably lean back and say,"okay good I feel much better, I can stop now." An addict, in comparison to a normal user, suffers from a phenomenon of craving that is never satiated, despite the amounts taken. It usually takes a blackout, an overdose, an arrest, or another serious event to finally stop the use.
4 - The Use Becomes a Secret
When an addict is aware that what they are doing would be considered shameful to some people, their using will start to become a hidden endeavor. This is especially true for people who use illicit substances, and people who have families and dependants. For example, one of the biggest groups of addicts who never get help are single mothers. They hide their addictions from the outside world for fear that they will lose their children or if they seek treatment, they have no one to help with the kids while they are gone. So these people suffer in silence, and behind closed doors, for fear of judgment from the outside world.
5 - Denial
A huge aspect of addiction is an addict's denial of the issue at hand. For example, many people are unaware that they are ever as bad as they really are. Many addicts will live in the false reality that they can control their using or that they can stop at any time. When the day comes that an addict admits they can't stop on their own, they will usually be able to validate their using with the excuse of, well I don't have time to take off work to go to detox or "I'm only going to keep doing this until this day, and then I'll stop." This is why the first step in 12 step fellowships is often just ADMITTING that there is a problem, to begin with.
6 - Negative Consequences
People that don't suffer from addiction will watch with horror as an addict completely destroys their life for their addiction. It makes no sense when perfectly intelligent and well-mannered people make horrible decision after horrible decision and still don't admit that they have a problem. Addicts often face legal issues, the loss of family and loved ones, and even serious health issues and seem to continue using like nothing has happened. This is one of the most baffling aspects of addiction, as normal people would assume their loved one would stop after their 4th overdose or their 2nd DUI. However, once the addiction becomes strong enough, negative consequences mean nothing in the light of the next fix.
7 - The Abandonment of Responsibilities
When a person has entered into the realm of a full blown addiction, nothing else matters. An addict can be surrounded by the most loving family, have the best job, and be the most intelligent and caring person but in the face of their using, none of those things will ever be enough to get them sober. This is the difference between a real true addict and a heavy user. A real true addict will never truly be able to stop, regardless of their daily responsibilities and all of their external situations.
The fact of the matter is, a full blown addict is pretty easy to spot. It is often the people who show only some of the symptoms, enough to cause concern, that should be worried about. In order to help our loved ones who seem to be going down the path of addiction, we need to always come from a place of love. It is important to remember that addicts will usually know deep down that what they are doing is not "socially acceptable" so they will probably be carrying guilt and shame already. Trying to force an addict out of their addiction will never work. As family members, it is of absolute necessity that we provide them with a comforting outlet for whenever they are ready to stop using. This by no means signifies that their behavior should be enabled, but they should always feel as though they have a safe place to turn when they are READY.
Finding the Right Treatment Center For You
If you believe you have a problem with drugs or alcohol and want to seek help, then call the professionals at Evolutions Treatment Center today at 1-800-795-8527. We can help you find the right treatment you need in order to finally overcome your addiction and get you on the path to recovery. Our trained staff knows exactly what you are going through and can give you the tools you need in order to finally overcome your addiction. So don’t delay, call us today.