Don Draper is the epitome of smooth and cool. The lead character of the hit Mad Men has everything—the beautiful wife, the adorable children, the powerful career. He has all the women and the money and the booze he could ever dream of… As the series unfolded, it also became clear Don Draper has an addiction. Among the many accolades and achievements of Mad Men, one is that it portrays the dynamics of addiction with accurate detail. Don grew up with trauma as a child. The addiction promises (falsely) escape and happiness. Don is charming and charismatic, and he can hide this addiction (at least, for a while), pretending nothing is wrong. Don’s illness also affects his whole life—his marriage, children, and job. Eventually, the addiction takes the good things in Don’s life—his career and his family. Others may not have the same glamour of Don Draper’s life as an ad man in the 1960s, but many can relate to his story. As many as 21 million Americans have an addiction. Despite the many similarities, one thing is very different between the world that Don Draper faced and today’s world: addicts are receiving the treatment they need and learning to live in wholeness, healing, and sobriety.
“I got sober. I stopped killing myself with alcohol. I began to think: ‘Wait a minute –
if I can stop doing this, what are the possibilities?’
And slowly it dawned on me that it was maybe worth the risk.”
― Craig Ferguson
Don Draper’s addiction looked like alcoholism, but addiction comes in many forms. It can be substance abuse—prescription drugs, cocaine, marijuana, heroin, even food. It can also be a compulsive activity—sex, video games, shopping, gambling, pornography, and more. When most people think of addiction, the substance or the activity is generally what they think of, but more and more, people are seeing addiction for what it really is. Regardless of how it manifests outwardly in a person’s life, what happens on the inside is the same. Addiction changes people’s brains. It is a vicious disease, and without intervention, it can devastate people and their loved ones.
The addiction therapists at Thriveworks Newark Counseling have worked with many addicts who are ready to take back control of their lives from the addiction. Our counselors and therapists have guided many people along the road of healing and sobriety.
Addiction’s Various Red Flags
To talk about how addiction changes brain balance is, in many ways, abstract and detached from people’s everyday reality. The reasons brain balance matters is because how well people’s brains are functioning shows up in how they are feeling, the choices they are making, and how healthy their body is. There are red flags—the signs—that someone might be fighting an addiction. These red flags are many, but common ones are behavioral, emotional, and physical. These are the more tangible signs that addiction may have alter a person’s brain.
Behavioral Red Flags for Addiction
- Missed work/ personal engagements/school
- Relationship problems
- Isolating oneself
- Difficulty in school
- Financial problems (especially, needing money)
- Keeping secrets
- Lying to loved ones (particularly, to cover the addiction or minimize its harm)
Emotional Red Flags for Addiction
- Loss of interest in people/activities that were once valued
- Being obnoxious, silly, or easily confused
- Difficulty handling stress (withdrawing from anything uncomfortable or stressful)
- Lack of awareness about the problem: denial, minimizations, blame, rationalizations, diversions
Physical Red Flags for Addiction (In particular, for substance abuse)
- Being hyperactive or lethargic (depending upon the drug)
- Excessive sniffing while not ill
- Red eyes, dilated pupils
- Repetitive speech
- Being undernourished or pale
- Body odor that is unpleasant or different
- Weight loss
Even a casual glance at these red flags will show that addiction can bring inordinate pain and destruction to people’s lives and to the lives of their loved ones. In many ways, addiction is like a parasite. It puts itself first, draining an individual dry. Addiction will risk a person’s well-being, health, finances, relationships, career, and even life so that it can survive. Many mental health professionals, addiction counselors in specific, summarize its effects as the three C’s of addiction: cravings, control, and consequences. Addiction utilizes cravings to control people’s behavior, which will persist despite the negative consequences they will experience.
“What is addiction, really? It is a sign, a signal, a symptom of distress.
It is a language that tells us about a plight that must be understood.”
– Alice Miller
Addiction Treatment at Thriveworks Newark—Counseling and Therapy
Think about your life for a moment. Do you recognize the control, cravings, and consequences that addiction brings? If so, you are not alone, and you have an ally in the fight. Thriveworks Newark is ready to help through addiction counseling or therapy. Addiction is a disease that has many treatments. Our professionals have helped many clients find the right treatment for them, and we have appointments available for addiction.
If you are ready to start treatment, we are ready to get started too. When you call Thriveworks Newark Counseling to make an appointment, a scheduling specialist will answer your call and help you make that appointment. We accept many forms of insurance, and new clients often have their first appointment within 24 hours of their first call. Weekend and evening sessions are offered, but we do not put our clients on a waitlist. We know fighting an addiction is hard—scheduling treatment should not be. Call Thriveworks Newark today.