5 Ways to Tell if Someone You Know is Addicted
First let’s get something out of the way. Not all addicts are abusing drugs or alcohol. A person can form an addiction to a variety of behaviors from gambling to Facebook games to sex. The cycle of addiction is a biological phenomenon and can enslave a person to any vice. So how do you determine if someone close to you is suffering from the early stages of addiction? Here are 5 clues to watch for.
1. Behavior Changes
Forming an addiction is often jarring to a person’s normal routine and can often result in abrupt changes to regular behavior as the object of addiction takes precedence for time and attention. If you notice someone’s work or school routine change or they are missing or unavailable for long stretches of time, check on them. Losing interest in favored hobbies or spending time with new people can also signal a potential problem.
2. Mood Swings
Most addictions are chemical in nature, even if the addiction is to something other than drugs. Gambling and pornography can stimulate a reward chemical in the brain and that chemical is what a person forms an addiction to. Any time brain and body chemistry is changed, a person’s mood can reflect that change. If you notice sudden changes in mood or new intensities to certain emotions, this can be a red flag.
3. Keeping Secrets
One of the more dangerous behaviors new addicts form is the need to keep their addiction and everything related to satisfying it a secret from those close to them. Secrets that conceal unhealthy behavior can become as poisonous as a dangerous drug. Always strive for open and honest communication with someone for whom you fear addiction may be an issue. If a person fears judgment or reprisal from a love one, they are less likely to feel comfortable being honest.
When confronted with someone we don’t want to admit openly, we can each of us become hostile or defensive. It’s a trick of the ego. But someone whose ego is enslaved to addiction can often react more violently or aggressively to criticism or judgment.
An addict, especially someone who is substantially far along in the addiction process, will often find anything and anyone responsible for the addiction except themselves. Addicts often feel helpless in the face of their condition and develop a persistent victim mentality, one that sees the world as an oppressive force and outside factors to blame for their addiction and choice to indulge.
If you feel someone you love is struggling with addiction and your first attempts to confront them about the problem is unsuccessful, seek advice from a qualified professional.