There are many lenses to view addictions through. If you are an addict of any type no words can truly describe addiction, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you are not an addict then it is almost impossible to understand why anyone would do any of the following when they know it will lead them down a dangerous path:

Hard to understand too is why addicts continue with their addiction even when

  • the person they married, have a family with, built a life with is leaving
  • the dream job they spent years in college for is gone

Addiction is being able to say “no” now and then, but 99% of the time the addict is going to use without giving it a second thought. The urge is so strong they can feel it before that drug is in their system. The bet they can’t cover is placed, or it’s 3a.m. and they just maxed out your credit card shopping online. There’s always the promise that when this is done it is over and they’ll quit. It can be a physical addiction such as drugs or alcohol; or it can be gambling or sex and love addiction. As the saying goes “addiction, is addiction, is addiction”

“Addiction is a primary, progressive, chronic disease with genetic, psycho-social, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive. Without treatment the person most likely ends up in jail, a mental institution or dead. This disease is characterized by impaired control over use of the substance, preoccupation with the substance, continued use of the substance despite adverse consequences and distortions in thinking.” Morris &Flavin (1992).

There are numerous self-administered tests to get an idea if you have an addiction problem; the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 4th Ed .) published by the American Psychiatric Association states three or more of the following symptoms within a 12-month period of time indicate addiction or dependence:

  • Preoccupation with use of the chemical between periods of use
  • Using more of the chemical than had been anticipated
  • The development of tolerance to the chemical in question
  • A characteristic withdrawal syndrome from the chemical
  • Use of the chemical to avoid or control withdrawal symptoms
  • Repeated efforts to cut back or stop the drug use
  • Intoxication at inappropriate times (such as at work), or when withdrawal interferes with daily functioning (such as when a hangover makes person too sick to go to work)
  • A reduction in social, occupational or recreational activities in favor of further substance use
  • Continued substance use in spite of the individual having suffered social, emotional, or physical problems related to drug use
Hitting Bottom

There are a multitude of addictions with one thing in common: Pain. People who are addicted stop when the consequences of their addiction become more painful than the pleasure or relief of their addiction. As a result of addiction, numerous areas of life are severely impacted.

What substance abuse/addiction and gambling problems as well as sex and other addictions have in common is the fact that they frequently destroy a person’s self-esteem and dignity. There is also a high risk for medical problems and disease after having neglected one’s health. The nature of addiction frequently places people in high risk situations which are health hazards. There is a lot of work to be done in early recovery. Most important are attempting to rebuild feelings of self-worth and making up for neglected health care.

Relationship damage ranges from 10 to 100. In the midst of an addiction, drugs, alcohol, gambling, the addict is preoccupied with getting and using their drug of choice. That may be first getting the money, the time and the place to use, or how to get away from family and work to use. As a result of these needs the addict’s behavior changes to:

  • Lying
  • Being emotionally unavailable
  • Becoming moody & sometimes angry for no apparent reason
  • Change in sex drive or behavior
  • Money missing with no explanation or unexplained availability or amounts of money
  • Significant others have a sense of “I feel like I don’t know you”
  • Not coming home at normal times or not at all
  • Change in friends

Rarely does someone come into treatment who does not need to work on healing relationships in their lives. Realistically this person may have to first work on their sobriety and being able to stay sober before being able to face all the damage they have done. Each situation needs to be judged individually, never by any “rule”.

Work and financial problems are all too frequent . The nature of addiction dictates that urges be satisfied regardless of consequences. Without being highly motivated and given support and the tools of recovery, it is unlikely that many people will actually stop their self-destructive addiction.

If you are suffering from addiction, or someone you care about needs help to overcome their addiction, contact us today: or call: (973) 359.0662