There is a stigma that surrounds the term addiction. When people first hear the word they almost immediately envision someone who is at their worst. People can become addicted to many different types of things; drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, or gambling to name a few of the more known factors. Regardless of what the circumstances are surrounding that addiction the sad truth is that there are many people suffering from addiction and our society as a whole needs to change their views on how to help those struggling.
Addiction is a serious disease that needs to be treated as such. Many people believe that addiction is merely a choice and that those addicted individuals have made continuous bad choices. This is not the case however. Individuals, regardless of age, gender or status in life can become addicts and these people do not have control over the things they do, take or use. Their addiction might even reach a point that is causing them complete harm and devastation. Overcoming addiction and working towards recovery is therefore vital to end the miseries, the damages, and the negative effects addiction has had on their life.
What is Addiction?
What does addiction really mean? Not all individuals may know it but addiction is defined as a condition which results when someone ingests substance like nicotine, cocaine, alcohol and more or engages in a particular activity like shopping, gambling, and even sex. All of these activities can be pleasurable but when it becomes compulsive it can interfere with normal routines and responsibilities in relationships, work, and one’s physical health. Individuals suffering from addiction might not be aware that their actions and behaviors have become out of control which results in significant problems for themselves as well as their loved ones.
The term “addiction” is being used in many different ways. One known definition describes physical addiction. This pertains to the biological state wherein the body adapts to the existence of drugs so drugs no longer have same effects. This is otherwise referred to as tolerance. Another type of known physical addiction is the overreaction by the human brain in response to drugs. An example of this would be an alcoholic walking into the bar and feeling an extra boost of pleasure because they know they will soon be drinking. Not all addictive behaviors are linked to exposure or cues, many people use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with stressful feelings or situations.
There are also psychologically based addictions as well. These are not physical in the sense that the body or brain needs them to function, but they are definitely habit forming and sometimes just as hard to break as a physical addiction. Many times people will replace one psychological addiction with another as a means of transference. While this may initially seem like a positive thing it is not really solving the deep rooted problem of why the person has addictive behaviors. The main focus of addiction treatment is not necessarily “what” a person is addicted too, but answering the “why” they have turned to substances to deal with stress in the first place. Treating or overcoming addiction requires a better understanding on how this works psychologically. When treating any type of addiction, it’s imperative to recognize and realize that the reason people use it not just for pleasure. It is also important to that addiction has nothing to do with a person’s character strength or morality. There have been ongoing arguments about addiction being a disease vs a choice. Many people agree that addiction is not a choice and it is not just a person of low moral character deciding to be repeatedly make bad decisions. It is a disease and those suffering from addiction should be treated as any other person who needs helps with their illness.
What Does Addiction Look Like?
Addiction has many different faces. It appears in many different situations; the addicted child rebelling against his family, a mother taking drugs because she is fed up with all the overwhelming responsibilities, a businessman taking speed to stay on top of his workload, and many more. Addiction problems do not exclude anyone and the sad truth is that addiction can affect your friends, your religious leaders, and most of all, your family. It does not discriminate. All of this being said, many individuals are still confused what addiction really looks like. Despite individuals’ different views about why addiction happens, there is one common denominator, and that is addictions ability to destroy someone and takes over their life. A person’s interests like school, work, family, and relationships will be replaced with disinterest on and neglect. These areas that were once important to an individual before they started using will no longer be held as priorities.
When someone is afflicted with addiction their entire family is affected. It does not leave anyone who is close with the addict untouched. Many times there are unmet responsibilities and loved ones are feeling the weight of those. They either have to pick up the slack or watch things go undone. The sudden and often times erratic changes in behavior of their loved ones can be stressful. The secrets and possible aggression is upsetting to the family dynamic. Once addiction becomes of a part of life whether that is yours or a loved one, you will start to notice the following happening:
- Neglect. Nothing will matter except when you are going to use alcohol or drugs. Other important priorities in life are set aside because of addiction.
- High-Risk behaviors while using. A person suffering from addiction could start to steal, use shared needles, drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, solicitation, or engage in unprotected sex and more.
- Legal troubles. Using or selling illegal drugs, theft, DWI, DUI as well as other risky behaviors that prompt arrest.
- Relationship issues. Spouses or partners start to set boundaries or give ultimatums to their loved one who is suffering from addiction. This in turn oftens stresses the addict out more which causes them to use more. Discord and fights will take place between partners, families, co-workers, and friends.
If you were wondering what addiction in general looks like this is a little glimpse into the life of an addiction. This can give you an idea but this is just surface. Many times it is much worse than this. Many people will watch their life crumble before their very eyes. They are heartbroken but at the same time unable to stop because addiction has taken over their life. It is a vicious cycle of feeling guilt and shame about their addiction but then using to make those feelings go away.
What are the signs and symptoms to look for if you expect a loved one is suffering from addiction?
Drug and alcohol addiction isn’t a condition that just crops up overnight. Often times it starts with someone who uses occasionally or recreationally to relieve stress or for leisure. When people start to repeat these behaviors is when it becomes an issue. Many people start to use regularly and it becomes a habit and can even become compulsory for some. Once the occasional use turns into regular use there is a fine line between staying in control and losing it. That is often times how addiction happens. No one ever plans to become addicted to drugs or alcohol. It’s the repeated behavior or use can actually progress into the need of using regularly despite the fact that this can compromise their education, career, relationship, safety, finances, and health.
It is different for each person who is suffering from addiction but over time they will do just about anything for the substance they are addicted too because of intense cravings. If your loved one is an addict they might not be able to stop their addiction on their own. Addiction will take away their ability to choose to stop even if their loved ones desperately want them to. It can prove difficult to notice if a loved one is struggling with addiction at the beginning. Things may seem off but there may not be a noticeable reason. Many times people who are suffering from early addiction are unlikely to admit their problems. Individuals suffering from addiction are ashamed and usually cover their own tracks. However, there are signs and symptoms that your loved ones may indicate that they are suffering from addiction.
This might include the following:
- Having new unsavory friends and new places they hangout
- Sudden shifts in attitude, mood, and motivation
- Poor performance at work or school
- Lying and other secretive behaviors
- Sudden weight gain or weight loss
- Unexplained and sudden increase on spending
- Enlarged pupils or bloodshot eyes
- Losing interest in once favorite hobbies and pastimes
- Trembling hands and unusual body odor
- Strange schedule and unusual changes in their sleep patterns
You may also notice that your loved one has angry outbursts which are more unpredictable and volatile. Your loved one may also become inattentive and lacks interest in following through on his or her obligations, duties, and responsibilities. Another sign that your loved one is suffering from addiction is if they all of a sudden become secretive, has unexplained or secretive phone calls, large withdrawals of cash, conceals what is on their phone, and/or erratic changes in schedule. It is also probable that your loved one is not making regular bill payments and may request to borrow money. Some individuals suffering from addiction even end up stealing from family or loved ones. Another sign of addiction is feelings of depression and withdrawn from social situations. Many times people who are withdrawing from drugs tend to be reclusive. There are physical symptoms when someone who is addicted tries to stop using a substance. These withdrawal symptoms can include sweating, vomiting, muscle aches, insomnia, diarrhea, and fever. Just in case these signs are affirming your doubts instead of allaying them, you may wonder what you should do now. Before confronting your loved one, take some time to collect your thoughts, so you are more reasonable and you’re able to get your points across. You may notice that you are feeling anxious and apprehensive. This is normal. This first discussion with your loved one can be tough, but is a needed step.
The best kinds of addiction treatment involves peer support, self-help, or both. Many people enroll in an addiction treatment program facility where they will receive different types of therapies and support. Individuals can also develop strategies which engage support of family, small groups, and friends to meet with addicts. This type of support is to help maintain abstinence and help addicts live a drug-free and addiction free life. These strategies and approaches may not come easily, however through careful and proper instruction; they can manage patients and help them during the course of their rehabilitation. Network therapy can also be a helpful means to overcome addiction. Peers and family are vital parts of the therapist’s working team. Social supports are also necessary to help prevent relapse and denial which are very compromising to and individuals newly found sobriety. The thing about addiction is that it does not discriminate. Everyone and anyone can be affected. You are never too young, too smart, too moral, too athletic, or too rich to suffer from addiction. The only way to stay addiction free is if you abstain completely from addicted substances, which in some cases is nearly impossible.
Get the Best Help and Treatment for Addiction from Couples Rehab
Regardless of whether you are or somebody you love is suffering from drug or alcohol abuse, knowing is the initial step to effective recovery. Understanding what dependence or addiction looks like and realizing that you are not the only one, will bring you towards the road of recovery. Hiding your addiction will never heal anything. In the event that you or somebody you know is experiencing addiction, you can connect with Couples Rehab. We are one of the leading Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery centers operating today. Our substance abuse treatment program is comprised of experienced therapists who have spent years helping people recover from addiction. Couples Rehab is focused on delivering comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction solutions to ensure that individuals suffering from addiction will experience effective and successful recovery. If you are or you someone you knew is struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, note that professional help is available at Couples Rehab. Contact us today and see for yourself how our treatment center can help individuals go all the way through effective and successful recovery.