The signs of addiction can be hard to spot. What starts as a way to relax or socialise can become an unhealthy habit. Our behaviour can get out of control, leaving our loved ones and us helpless in addiction’s grasp. How do you know when it’s time to seek support for addiction behaviour?
This article may be helpful if you are:
- Seeking more information about addiction behaviour
- Concerned about yourself or a loved one regarding their substance use or addictive behaviour.
- Deciding whether a rehab program for addiction would suit you or a loved one.
Spotting the Signs of Addiction Early
Many people seek addiction help when they hit rock bottom. They often wait to seek help until they have faced some of the consequences of addiction, such as losing close relationships, family or financial security.
But what if there were signs of addiction before the crisis hits? What if you could seek help well before then?
You find it difficult to relax or relieve stress without your unhealthy behaviour or substance
Whether it’s been a long day at work, the kids fight before going to bed, or we’re experiencing emotional distress – we all have ways to cope with and diffuse the stress in our lives. But these coping methods can become problematic when we turn to harmful coping strategies rather than ones that help us build resilience.
Some people may find it tricky to “let their hair down” without alcohol or illicit substances. This can be especially true in Australia, where alcohol has become synonymous with relaxation and social connection. What can start as a harmless way of coping or relaxing can escalate and quickly become an addiction if we only rely on substances to handle these situations.
Do you rely on alcohol to relax or enjoy yourself? The following may be early signs of addiction behaviour:
- Making jokes or light-hearted comments about how a substance or behaviour will help you feel better in moments of stress or pressure.
- When you feel stressed, tired or unhappy, you look forward to alcohol, drugs or unhealthy behaviours (such as gambling) to keep you moving forward.
- Regularly “pre-drinking” or consuming illicit substances before events, parties or concerts.
- Feeling uncomfortable at dry events where alcohol or smoking is not permitted.
If you relate to the statements above, you may benefit from seeking help before addiction behaviour takes over.
Other Signs of Addiction to Look out For
Below are some of the other core signs of addiction to look out for in yourself or a loved one if you’re concerned about addiction behaviour:
You forego responsibilities or commitments to engage in your behaviour.
Addictive behaviours can lead us to feel out of control. We may neglect our responsibilities or commitments or not perform at our best. Perhaps we engage in risky or illegal activities that we wouldn’t normally do, like driving under the influence or stealing.
Do you forego your responsibilities or commitments? Signs of addiction may include:
- Neglecting your responsibilities as an employee, parent or friend due to unhealthy addiction behaviour or substance seeking.
- Choosing to forego or disrupt significant events such as Christmas, birthday parties or anniversaries due to addictive behaviours.
- Engaging in illegal or risky behaviours that we would not normally do.
- Not performing our best as we attend work feeling hungover, foggy or tired due to addictive behaviours.
You find it difficult to stop your behaviours once you start
A healthy individual can exercise self-control over substance use, knowing when to stop and act upon it. However, when caught up in addiction behaviour, we may feel like we have an uncontrollable desire to keep engaging in these behaviours and often end up drinking, taking or gambling much more than we intend.
Do you find it difficult to stop engaging in your unhealthy behaviour once you start?
Signs of addiction might look like:
- Going on “benders” for days at a time;
- Struggle to say no to your unhealthy behaviour or substance;
- Drinking numerous alcoholic beverages even though you only intended to drink one standard drink, or choosing beverages that will make you intoxicated quicker (for example, choosing spirits instead of beer);
- Gambling significant sums of money when you did not intend to.
Does this sound like something you often struggle with? If so, it may be helpful for you to reach out for help.
You engage in addiction behaviour more than you used to
A hallmark of addictive behaviour is that we require more to reach the same effect. We may need to risk more money, take more drugs, or drink more before we feel satisfied. This is a biological concept called tolerance is a strong indicator that you are developing a physical or psychological dependency or addiction.
Alternatively, we may engage in addictive behaviours more than we used to. Perhaps you were once a social drinker, but now you drink daily. Maybe you only needed prescription medication when you were in pain, yet know you take it regardless as a preventative. This pattern may suggest that you have an unhealthy relationship with a substance.
Are you engaging in your behaviour more often than you used to? The following may be signs of addiction:
- You engage in addiction behaviour more often than you used to.
- Your desire for the substance or behaviour is much stronger than before.
- You have noticed that you need to consume greater amounts of the substance or gamble more money to achieve the same effect.
The above are indicators of addiction and should be taken very seriously. Physical tolerance or dependency requires medical attention, and a medical professional should guide any reduction in your intake. To learn more about the importance of medical support in recovery from addiction.
You notice yourself thinking about the next time you can engage in addiction behaviour
One way we can identify a developing addiction is by noticing our thoughts. Do you notice yourself thinking about or looking forward to the next time you can access your substance or behaviour? Perhaps you plan your trip to obtain your substances or think about when you will gamble next.
You feel ashamed of your behaviour or try to hide your actions
When experiencing an addiction, we may not be proud of our choices and regret the pain and hardship we may inflict on our loved ones. The pull between regret and desire for our behaviour or substance can create a lot of shame, secrecy and guilt.
Do you feel ashamed of your addictive behaviours or shroud your actions in secrecy? Some common signs of addiction include:
- Engaging in your behaviours to avoid feelings of guilt, shame or embarrassment.
- Lying about or creating alternative explanations for your whereabouts or unaccounted finances.
- Hiding evidence of substance use or unhealthy addiction behaviour.
- Having separate bank accounts, phones, email addresses or other identities for your substance use or addictive behaviours.
If you identify with any of the above suggestions, it could be worthwhile to seek help for addiction. The understanding team at The Banyans are available to help you get back on track and regain your life: free from the shame and guilt of addiction.
Spot the Signs of Addiction: Free Support Guides Available for Friends and Family
Supporting someone experiencing an addiction can be extremely difficult, especially if you are unsure how to help. The Banyans have created several free, downloadable support guides that may help direct a conversation towards seeking rehab.
Download yours today.
Sooner Rather than Later: Act on the Signs of Addiction
Addiction is one of the most expensive social costs to society, with Australian’s copping over $14 million dollars in social costs every year. Personally, addiction costs an individual much more – relationally, financially, physically and legally. You can read more about the cost of addiction here.
“When we are in the cycle of addiction, it can be difficult to imagine a life that is different to how we know it now. We can lose our perspective. It’s important that we focus on the benefits of recovery, especially when our treatment or therapy requires us to push through some difficult times, ” comments Peter.
Regain your Freedom: Seek Help from The Banyans
The Banyans Health and Wellness is a private treatment centre for those experiencing the challenges of addiction. Our tailored programs will help you uncover the drivers of your addiction, as well as equip you with the tools and strategies to regain control and experience the freedom of life once again. Our highly qualified team of registered professionals will work with you to rediscover joy and relaxation without drugs, alcohol or other unhealthy behaviours. Seek help today from Australia’s best private rehab centre. Call our expert team 24 hours a day 7 days a week on 1300 226 926 or make an enquiry below.