An addiction is a serious condition, and it has been affecting humanity since the dawn of our species. Thousands of years ago we discovered many substances we can abuse, and behavioral disorders definitely go even earlier than that. But no matter what kind of malady you are facing, there is a way out, and it’s not the same for everybody. Each person has their own reasons for acting the way they do, and sometimes the road to recovery begins with understanding why you are struggling in the first place. In this article, we are diving deep into addiction, looking at the common signs and red flags.
What Is It
Identifying an addiction disorder may be harder than it seems. One of the world’s most influential organizations, ASAM (short for American Society of Addiction Medicine), describes addiction as a persistent condition that alters our mind’s most crucial circuits, such as the reward system, motivational inputs (the ones in our limbic system), as well as memory and learning factors.
The way addiction wrecks havoc on us is paramount: it’s a self-reinforcing circle, where each time you repeat a certain behavior it gets ingrained even deeper into our psyche. When you have satisfied the intense craving, the brain will release rewarding chemicals into the body, making you feel relaxed, satisfied, and calm. However, it will also note how pleasurable the act was, and the next time it will demand of you an even higher stimulus with a greater sense of urgency.
Everyone knows the good feeling of finally visiting a toiler after you could not do so for a while, right? This a very simplistic version of the same circuit, except in this case it’s actually beneficial. Your body absolutely needs to urinate, and the faster you do it the better. The pleasurable sensation comes from achieving the action. It doesn’t matter if it’s a substance such as drugs or alcohol, or a certain behavior such as gambling or gaming, there is always a stimulus and a reward. The reward is always a consequence of a certain act.
Each Person Has Their Own Story
A healthy person can sometimes recognize this kind of behavior and come clean on their own. However, this is very rarely the case in someone with an addiction disorder. Instead of addressing the problem and finding a way to fix it, an addict will lie and deny that they have one and will resist any attempts to resolve the issue.
A psychologist friend of mine from Dubai has recently shared a public case of successful remission at sagamecare.com. It truly inspired me, and I believe the story is absolutely worth sharing. It’s about a man who had a gambling addiction for most of his adult life, and only after many of the challenges that life brought was he able to stop. It’s an easy translation with a few clicks in your browser, and you will definitely learn a lot from it.
An Unusual Appetite
Craving is the first red flag you should be cautious of. It’s a normal human response for a need, but it should only apply to basic human needs such as your body’s needs (hydration, nutrition), social needs (talking to someone, showing and receiving affection), or survival mechanism (a roof over your head, a warm bed and not much else). When it results in obvious harm to the individual, and or society, such as in the case of narcotics, a craving for a substance is only “normal” for an already addicted person.
When the person is so obsessed with their internal hunger to fulfill their addictive need, that they tend to it more hastily than their life’s responsibilities and commitments, it means that the addiction is already settled in the individual life’s. But even in the beginning stages, when it’s much harder to notice if you look diligently enough, you will see certain proclivities that signify intense motivation to achieve the desired thing, with little to no thinking of any consequences.
Here are some things to look out for:
- Absence of self-control, the person is unable to stop using a substance or behaving in a certain way
- Abstaining from outgoing activities, such as commitments or important relationships
- Acting despite known high-risk scenarios, such as sharing needles with other people or betting more than they can afford
- Physical or mental withdrawal, such as increased cravings after stopping, and needing a high-stimulus to achieve the same effect
All of these four frequently go together. How apparent and extreme these symptoms depend on the person and how long the addiction has affected them. Here is more on how to spot addiction.