There are four symptoms of addiction which can be recognized and described. I’m talking an addiction to anything…not just drugs or alcohol. The most important thing to remember about addiction is it is more about the addictive thinking and addictive behavior than it is about the actual substance, person or thing that the addiction is focused on.
The problem with addiction is that it is a disease that is best left self-diagnosed. If you addicts can remember back…you were probably one of the last people to truly realize that you were addicted. Unfortunately…that is one of the four symptoms of addiction. But what are the others?
Obsessive thinking and planning for your next “fix” is one of the symptoms of addiction. This starts off innocently enough with constantly thinking about whatever activity it is that you are addicted too. This usually leads into incessant planning of your next “fix” which turns quickly into re-arranging your life in ways that facilitate your use.
Obsessive thoughts about your addictive substance leads to a decrease of rational thought pertaining to the consequences of use. It is the obsessive thoughts about something that first leads you down the path of addictive thinking.
Addiction turns against you…just ask any addict. It starts out great. You obviously get some benefit from it or you wouldn’t be doing it. For myself, when I first started to use Oxycontin it made me oblivious to all of my problems and my loneliness. It made me feel good for the duration of my high.
Sooner or later an addict’s behavior will start to have negative consequences on their lives. And what do we do…just what an addict would do. We keep doing what we are doing anyway. Our addictive behavior still produces pleasure in the short run but pain and grief in the long run.
There are many areas in an addicts life that may be negatively effected by the addictive behavior.
- Psychological Health
- Judgment and Behavior
- Physical Health
Lack Of Control
Lack of Control in addiction simply means that regardless of the negative consequences, once you give into that first whatever you have zero control over stopping this behavior. You could have all the best intentions in the world and you could promise yourself up and down that you’ll only have a couple…you still binge out of control.
An addict is at one of two places in their active addiction. We are either totally out of control or we are trying to control our use. Either way we are unable to just “take it or leave it”.
Denial is the symptom of addiction that us addicts know best. It was the last stop on our downward spiral before finally being able to surrender to the fact that we are addicts and need help.
There are two main things that addicts deny at first. One being the fact that the drug or activity is a problem that they cannot control and the second being that the negative consequences in their lives are in any way connected to their addiction.
These are going to seem very familiar to any addicts out there…here are some of the most common forms of denial.
- Absolute Denying – “No, I don’t have a problem.”
- Minimizing – “It’s not that bad.”
- Avoiding the Subject All Together – ignoring it, refusing to address it, or distracting others from the subject
- Blaming Others – “Sure I do it, who wouldn’t if they had my wife/boss/kids/etc.”
- Rationalizing and Intellectualizing – “I’m not as bad as Joe” or “Cocaine is not that addictive anyway.”
The most detrimental effect of denial on the addict is that it prevents them from correcting the behavior. The clear signs of a persons own addiction are kept at bay by denial.
But as we all know…sooner or later you hit that point where the denial subsides and you realize what you are dealing with. People in recovery talk about something finally clicking in their brain. That clicking is an epiphany of sorts.
Keeping Denial At Bay
What I have found in my addiction recovery is that if you are not careful…that addictive thinking denial can creep back into your mind. You can easily start to lose sight of what has happened and the severity of your problem if you are not diligent in your recovery.
My understanding of being diligent in addiction recovery consists of going to meetings or some other form of sharing and identifying with other addicts as well as staying educated about your recovery via addiction recovery books or blogs. Things of that nature.