Identifying and Helping a Loved One’s Addiction
Addiction is characterized as a dependence on a particular substance, object, or activity. The impact addiction has on an addict is based on substance of choice, frequency and duration of use. Addicts will spend an excessive amount of time, money, and resources on obtaining drugs or alcohol to avoid dealing with past and present issues. Addiction causes family problems and if left untreated may also lead to legal problems. Those afflicted with an addiction may lose their grasp on reality, oftentimes neglecting their self-image, children, financial obligations, and potentially their lives. It is important for the addict to receive professional help to overcome the addictions that are preventing his / her ability for success, happiness, and good health.
Addiction uses both physical and psychological processes to keep the addict dependent. Each individual may display different symptoms of addiction. However, there are some key factors to determine if the individual requires an intervention. Some of the common symptoms of addiction include: social and physical withdrawal, tolerance, difficulty moderating intake levels, revolving one’s social, occupational, and recreational activities around the addictive activity, and becoming preoccupied with satisfying the fixation.
Loved ones can take the time to observe certain signs and behaviors exhibited by the addict. For instance, addicts may display certain behavioral patterns, such as pathological lying, mood swings, lethargy, oversleeping, overeating, stealing, lack of personal hygiene, lack of fulfilling financial obligations, and stealing in order to get enough money to support their habit. Not all of these behavioral patterns hint towards an addiction. However, if these signs appear over a prolonged period of time, then they should be considered as indicators of a serious problem that must be promptly addressed. Additionally, some of the most problematic addictions stem from seemingly harmless activities, such as drinking wine with dinner, viewing pornography, gambling, and going to work. Excessive participation in activities that neglect time or attention with loved ones, or for you, is never healthy.
Family and friends can intervene if they sense an addiction worsening over a period of time. Loved ones may suggest that the addict join a support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, in order to overcome his / her addiction and take back control of his / her life. If left untreated, some addicts may find themselves in disarray, destitute, and disconnected from the real world. In fact, some drug addicts resort to a life of crime in effort to supply money to continue their habit. This may lead to rehabilitation, prison, or even death. It’s essential to communicate to the addict that he / she must seek addiction treatment to learn how to manage life without being dependent on external sources. Treatment for addiction begins when the addict acknowledges that he or she has a problem. Through education the addict will learn how to make more rational decisions, use alternative coping skills, identify potential danger zones, become accountable for future actions, and reward themselves for good behavior. These basic guidelines will help the addict recognize when old self-defeating behaviors are present decreasing risk of relapse.
Follow these links for a comprehensive list of addictions, including symptoms, signs, and treatment methods:
- Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse: A comprehensive article detailing the ill effects of alcohol addiction, including the signs, symptoms, and intervention needed to help the addict sufficiently recover.
- Prescription Painkiller Addiction: 7 Myths: A WebMD featured article addressing 7 myths regarding prescription painkiller addiction, including the popular myth that higher doses or withdrawal means the patient is addicted to painkillers.
- NIDA InfoFacts: Cocaine and Codependency: A government-sponsored website delivering pertinent facts regarding cocaine codependency with a close examination of how an addiction can ruin lives.
- Caffeine Withdrawal: MedicineNet answers frequently asked questions (FAQ) about caffeine addiction, including signs, symptoms, and coping strategies when breaking away from the habit.
- Nicotine Addiction: Medscape addresses arguably the most addictive substance on the market: nicotine.
- American Psychology Association: Internet Addiction: The American Psychology Association (
) identifies and answers whether society has developed an Internet addiction.
- How Kleptomania Works: Kleptomania, an addiction characterized by compulsive thievery, can lead to problems with one’s relationships, self-respect, and especially the law if left unaddressed.
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