There are two fundamental ways to spot an addict. When someone becomes compulsive, dependant and reliant on their addiction there are certain physical and psychological signs that become apparent. Although not exactly the same for every addict, it is likely that they will adopt at least some of the behaviour described in this article.
When recognising addiction you need to keep an eye out for secrecy. This is one of the dominant behaviours that all addicts adopt. It doesn’t matter if they are using drugs, gambling or shopping, an addict will always become increasingly secretive the more they immerse themselves in their addiction.
For someone addicted to drugs, this may involve isolating themselves in their room and being secretive about their actions. A compulsive shopper will go to great lengths to keep their money seeking activities a secret from their families, and will hide the things that they buy. A gambler on the other hand will become quiet about the loss, or sudden windfall of money that they get.
Addiction comes in all shapes and sizes. Physically, addicts are always up-tight, anxious and on the move, constantly seeking their next window of opportunity. Though the different addictions have their more distinct signs, all addicts hide a sense of shame about their addiction.
This causes them to be agitated, moody and often quite defensive about where they are going and what they are doing. Psychologically the effects are more subtle but just as apparent. Recognising addiction this way will help you to prevent a growing problem in the future.
Emotionally the addict will feel strung-out, stressed and pushed to the limit. Paranoia is a very common side effect of addiction as the addict’s natural secretive tendencies become their worst nightmare. Convinced that people are watching their every move, they are forced to become even more secretive and very touchy when questioned.
Withdrawing from family and friends is also a sign of addiction. This happens because of the enormous paranoia. Instead of leaving it to chance, the addict will want to be alone with their addiction so that they can enjoy it and feel relief from their constant suspicion.
Often there will be a change in friendship groups, as the addict tries to fit their addiction into their lives by surrounding themselves with like minded people. Heroin addicts, for example, will make friends with other heroin users; gamblers will become friends with other gamblers.
Finally they will withdraw completely from society as the addiction consumes them and they can think about nothing else. Identifying addiction now becomes relatively simple. Addicts that become consumed to this level can no longer hide their need to feed their addiction.
If you think you or someone you know is experiencing some of these tell-tale symptoms then kindly encourage them to seek help as soon as possible. It’s important to be patient and not to try and bully them into getting treatment – this step must be taken by the addict and you cannot enter treatment on their behalf. Show the addict the treatment options that are available and give them time to think about it; be aware that many addicts will initially be terrified by the idea of seeking professional help. Occasional reminders of your initial discussion are ok, but if you push too hard then you may drive them away. You may also find it helpful to obtain some information they can read and consider in there own time.
Waiting for an addiction to get worse will make recovery harder, longer and more painful. There are a lot of treatment centres, support groups and rehabilitation clinics that can help you with free advice.