Ezra comes home from school and goes straight to his room to play video games. He plays until bedtime, when his parents make him turn them off. A year ago, he would text his friends to play basketball at the park or hang out at their houses after school. That has not happened in months. Ezra barely spends time with his friends. They have stopped texting if he wants to meet up, because they know his answer. Ezra’s parents are noticing too. They are concerned, and have put restrictions on how long he plays video games. Ezra did not take this well. He lied and found a way around the rules. Ezra’s parents even found him playing video games in the middle of the night. Ezra may be one of the 21 million Americans struggling with an addiction.
“Addiction isn’t about substance—you aren’t addicted to the substance,
you are addicted to the alteration of mood that the substance brings.”
Many people associate addiction with a substance, but addictions can also be behavior based— Alcohol. Gambling. Prescription drugs. Internet. Cocaine. Video games. Marijuana. Sex…to name just a few. Addiction can strike the rich, the poor, men, women, the old, the young. Whatever form addiction takes and wherever it chooses to strike, the disease is the same. Addiction alters the way an individual’s brain functions. It is a serious illness, but there are treatments available.
That is why Thriveworks Counseling in Cary offers addiction counseling and therapy. Support, care, and healing are available here.
Red Flags for Addiction
Addiction rewires people’s brains so that they experience the pleasure hormones, dopamine, and endorphins when they are engaging in the activity or consuming the substance associated with the addiction. The changes in how the brain works show up in people’s behavior, emotions, and body.
Bodily Signs of Addiction
- Weight loss
- Being hyperactive or lethargic (depending upon the drug)
- Red eyes, dilated pupils
- Repetitive speech
- Excessive sniffing while not ill
- Being undernourished or pale
- Body odor that is unpleasant or different
Behavioral Signs of Addiction
- Missed work/school/personal engagements
- Difficulty in school
- Isolating oneself
- Keeping secrets
- Financial difficulties (particularly, needing money)
- Relationship problems
- Lying to loved ones (especially, to cover the addiction)
Emotional Signs of Addiction
- Being unable to handle stress
- Loss of interest in people/activities that were once valued
- Lack of awareness about the problem: denial, rationalizations, minimizations, blame, diversions
- Obnoxious, silly, easily confused
Addiction can overtake an individual’s life, taking risks and putting their well-being in jeopardy so that it can survive—like a parasite. Addiction will also put loved one’s well-being at risk. Addiction has three distinct markers. Mental health professionals sometimes call them the three C’s of addiction: consequences, craving, and control. Addiction takes over control of an individual’s life—driving their thinking, decisions, and actions. Addiction uses cravings as a way to control—either for a substance or an experience. Despite the negative consequences, people rarely leave the addiction.
Even though addiction is a common illness, there are many misunderstandings about what it is and how it functions. Shame fuels these myths. They can stigmatize people who suffer with addiction and may even keep them from seeking treatment. It is important to name these myths and explore the reality of addiction.
Myth #1: Addicts Are Weak People.
Shame is a hurtful weapon that addiction uses against people, and it often comes in this form: if only you were stronger, you would not have this addiction. The truth is, people who have addictions are some of the most resilient and strong people. Addiction has nothing to do with being strong or weak, however one might define these. Often, people are predisposed to addiction through things completely out of their control—family history and genetics. Just as cancer patients do not have cancer because they are weak, so addicts do not have an addiction because they are weak.
Myth #2: Addiction Is a Choice.
Another way addiction can use shame to derail people is through the myth: if you make different choices, you could be done with the addiction. The cure for addiction is not willpower. In fact, willpower is a false promise. Treatments are available, but they involve medication, therapy, and support networks. Addiction is not a choice and neither is its cure.
Myth #3: Addiction Is Rare.
Shame can also whisper, you are alone…no one else understands. Yet, the reality is that millions of people understand because they are struggling with an addiction. Millions more have struggled and are healing. Even more understand because they love someone who has an addiction. Organizations like Alcoholic Anonymous offer community and support and understanding. Therapists and counselors are empathic and can often connect their clients with treatment options. You are not alone. Help is available.
Setting Up an Appointment for Addiction Therapy at Thriveworks Counseling in Cary
Are you struggling? Do you feel like you are fighting a compulsion alone? We are ready to help. Thriveworks Counseling in Cary has appointments available for addiction therapy. When you contact our office, know that you may be meeting with your therapist within 24 hours. You will never reach a voicemail or be put on a waitlist. Instead, we have evening and weekend appointments available. We also work with many insurance companies and accept many forms of insurance.
Let us fight the battle of addiction with you. Contact us for addiction counseling today.