When do you know that it is time for addiction treatment? Look for the four cardinal signs of addiction, alcoholism and abuse.
The symptoms of addiction are recognizable and can be described, but this does not always make addiction simple to diagnose. In many situations addiction is something that has to be self-diagnosed. At least, for the diagnosis of addiction to take hold and for addiction treatment to be successful the person struggling with addiction must recognize the disease for what it is.
This can be frustrating to friends, family and loved ones who witness the signs of addiction before the addict him or herself comes to terms with it. At this stage of the process, it is often helpful to step back and evaluate the four signs of addiction individually. Sometimes evaluating these four signs of addiction can help the person struggling with alcoholism and abuse come to terms with the problem in their life.
The four signs of addiction are:
- Negative Consequences
- A Lack of Control
Addictive behaviors are often compelling and time consuming. Planning your next “fix,” the anxiety that builds up before engaging in the activity and the frustration that results when use is blocked for some reason are all aspects of obsession.
Most people who struggle with addiction begin arranging their life in a way that facilitates drug use. As the obsession grows it can interfere with other aspects of their life, such as with relationships and career aspirations.
2. Negative Consequences
A regular habit does not become an addiction until there are negative consequences associated with the behavior. These consequences may develop as a result of engaging in the action or when the behavior is missed.
An addiction will turn against you. Just as with a habit, an addiction will provide some apparent benefit, whether that is stress relief, enjoyment or something else. However, sooner or later the addiction will cause negative consequences to develop in your life.
Common consequences include:
- Financial distress
- Career loss
- Relationship problems
- Loss of proper judgment
- Decay of physical and mental health
3. Lack of Control
Despite the emergence of negative consequences addictive behavior will continue. The very mark of addictive behavior is that in trying to bring it under control, willpower is not enough. The substance or activity takes control of you, and you no longer are able to maintain control of your own behavior.
To gain control over an addiction, a person must heal from within. The addiction treatment process requires a review of the ways an addiction impacted a person’s life, including their physical and mental health, their most important relationships and their career.
The last tell-tale sign of an addiction is denial that there is an addiction. At some point the individual struggling with an addiction will have to accept the fact that they have a problem, but this is a step encountered during addiction treatment. Before reaching this point there will be a stage of denial.
There are two categories of denial:
- Denial that the activity is an uncontrollable problem
- Denial that the activity is impacting them negatively
Denial might take the shape of avoidant behavior, minimizing or rationalizing events, blaming others and absolutely denying that a problem exists.
Denial is a delusional thought process. To be in denial literally means to be out of touch with reality. When someone is in denial they are not making an effort to hide the truth from someone. The person in denial will honestly believe they are right and they are arguing the truth. This is a form of self-protection on the part of the addict, and it is a wall that must be broken down carefully. A person cannot overcome a state of denial until they are ready to accept that they have an addiction.
If a person exhibits signs of each of these four signs, then they may be struggling with an addiction. These signs present differently among each individual, so it is important to consult the advice of an addiction specialist.