Emil walks home from school each afternoon and straight into his bedroom where he plays video games until dinner. After supper, he plays for several more hours. A year ago, he came home from school and played outside with his friends. They sometimes played video games together, but they also played soccer, board games, and basketball. Now, Emil does not spend time with those friends. He plays video games alone. Last week, his mom woke up in the middle of the night, and she found Emil playing. She is beginning to wonder if something more serious may be happening. Emil’s mom and dad are talking about trying to get him some help. They are worried he might be addicted. If he is, Emil would be one of 21 Americans who have 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.”
Addiction can take a variety of forms. On the surface, addiction can be substance abuse (opioids, prescription drugs, alcohol, marijuana, and more). On the surface, addiction can also look like a compulsive behavior (sex, the Internet, video games, shopping, and more). In both cases, just below the surface, the addiction works the same. Addiction is an illness that changes people’s minds. It can strike rich or poor, old or young, man or woman. It is a severe disease that strikes indiscriminately, but help is possible. Many people are seeking help early and finding the treatment they need for their addiction.
The therapists and counselors at Thriveworks Counseling in Dallas, TX have many clients who are battling addiction, and we have provided the healing, care, and support they needed. Many people think that addiction is about willpower and making healthier choices. The professionals at Thriveworks Counseling in Dallas know that is not how addiction works, and it is not how to fight this illness.
Addiction’s Red Flags
Addiction rewrites how an individual’s brain functions so that people experience pleasure hormones (endorphins and dopamine) when they engage in the activity or substance. The rewiring of the brain means that people’s thoughts, choices, and behaviors are affected as well. Here are some of the more tangible signs that addiction is changing a person’s brain. Do you recognize anything?
Bodily Signs of Addiction
- Being hyperactive or lethargic (depending upon the drug)
- Weight loss
- Dilated pupils, red eyes
- Repetitive speech
- Being undernourished or pale
- Excessive sniffing without being sick
- Body odor that is unpleasant or different
Behavioral Signs of Addiction
- Missed engagements/work/school
- Isolating oneself
- Difficulty in school
- Keeping secrets
- Relationship problems
- Financial difficulties (particularly, needing money)
- Lying to loved ones (especially, to cover the addiction)
Emotional Signs of Addiction
- Lack of awareness about one’s own behavior: denial, rationalizations, minimizations, blame, diversions
- Being unable to handle stress
- Loss of interest in people/activities that were once valued
- Obnoxious, silly, easily confused
It is easy to see from these red-flags: addiction can cause severe harm to both the addict and their loved ones. Because of an addiction, people may take risks they would not otherwise take. They may put their own well-being on the line so that the addiction can survive—in many ways, addiction is like a parasite. Therapists may talk about how addiction has three C’s: cravings, consequences, and control. Addiction demands control of an individual’s life and drives their decisions, thoughts, feelings, and actions. Addiction will persist despite the negative consequences they bring into an individual’s life. Addiction uses cravings as a way to take this control.
Myths about Addiction
Addiction is a common disease, but many stereotypes and myths about it remain. Many times, misunderstanding of what addiction is and how it functions is at the heart of these myths. Worse, these myths may shame people with and addiction and make it harder for them to seek treatment. The best way to combat misunderstanding is with the truth. Here are a few myths, and here is the truth about addiction.
Myth #1: Addiction Is a Choice.
No one chooses to be addicted, just as no one chooses to have diabetes. A choice did not allow addiction to grow, and willpower is not a treatment plan. Instead, addiction is an illness, and treatment requires people to retrain their brains so that their brain is more balanced.
Myth #2: Addicts Are Weak People.
This myth is based in shame—it attacks the person instead of the disease. Addiction has no connection with being strong. In fact, many people who have an addiction are strong, courageous people. Their illness is attributable to things outside of their control such as allergies, genetic predisposition, or childhood trauma.
Myth #3: Addiction Is Rare.
Addiction wants people to believe they are alone. That is when people are most vulnerable. However, the reality is that addiction is common, and many people who are in the midst of fighting an addiction or who have recovered would be glad to offer support, empathy, and accountability. Mental health professionals often include community support as a part of the recovery process.
Scheduling an Appointment for Addiction Therapy at Thriveworks in Dallas
If you are ready to meet with a therapist, Thriveworks in Dallas is ready to support you. When you contact our office, know that you may have your first appointment the following day. We also take many forms of insurance, and we offer weekend and evening sessions.
Let’s fight addiction together. Call Thriveworks Counseling in Dallas today.