Addiction in the Family

Dr. Purushothaman
January 12, 2014


Recognising addiction may seem like a simple process of watching out for dependency of any kind. Unfortunately, when you or a loved one is involved, things are never that easy. There are many different types of addiction and recognising the early warning signs of deepening dependency could save you and your family a lot of future heartache.
There are two fundamental ways to spot an addict. When some becomes physically and mentally addicted to a behaviour or substance, certain actions and mood changes become manifest. 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 a drug addict it may involve locking themselves away from their family, not saying where they are going and hiding things. 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. The changes in mood are more subtle but are still readily apparent if you know what to look for. 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.
Isolation from friends is also a common symptom 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. Drug addicts will make friends with others using drugs; 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. Recognising addiction now becomes easy. 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 crucial not to try and rush or pressure someone into treatment - the addict must voluntarily choose to enter treatment and you cannot make this decision for them. 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.

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