Don Draper is the poster-boy for suave. He is the man every woman wants to be with and every man wants to be. For seven seasons, audiences faithfully followed him as the lead character on Mad Men. Don Draper had it all—the powerful career, the money, the women, the booze. As the show explored his life, it became clear that he also had something else: an addiction. The show has received praises for its excellent writing, its deep characters, and also for its accurate portrayal of addiction. As extraordinary as Don Draper is as a character, he is actually a typical addict. Like many others, Draper experienced childhood trauma and loss. Like many others, the addiction falsely promised happiness and escape. Like many others, his charm and charisma were not enough for the addiction—he could hide for a time but not forever. Like many others, Don’s life came down, crashing. Addiction takes and it takes and it takes. Many people today can relate to these dynamics with one important difference: more people today are getting the help they need for addiction than they did in the 1960s. Today, mental health professionals have a better understanding of what addiction is and how it functions and what it means to treat it. More and more, people are getting the help they need for addiction, and they are taking back control of their own lives.
“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
Craig Ferguson and Don Draper struggled alcoholism, but addiction does not have to look that way. Addiction may look like abusing a different substance—prescription drugs, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, food, and more. Addiction may look like an obsessive activity—having sex, shopping, playing video games, gambling, using pornography, and more. These substances and activities are what most people associate with addiction, but they are only part of the story—the outward form. Regardless of what shape the addiction takes, what is happening within a person is the same: their brains are knocked off balance. Addiction is a terrible disease. More and more, people are reaching out for the help they need, and they are fighting back.
The counselors and therapist at Thriveworks San Diego offer addiction treatment because we have seen many clients recover their lives. Help, healing, and hope are possible in the fight for sobriety.
Addiction’s Many Red Flags
To state that addiction alters the brain is too detached from everyday life. What does it mean that addiction rewires the brain? When people’s brains are not in balance, it shows in the decisions they make, how they feel, and their bodily health. Certain emotional, behavioral, and bodily red flags are indicators that addiction may have taken hold in the brain. These are tangible signs that it may be time to reach out for mental health care:
Emotional Red Flags for Addiction
- Loss of interest in people/activities that were once valued
- Difficulty handling stress (withdrawing from anything uncomfortable or stressful)
- Being obnoxious, silly, or easily confused
- Lack of awareness about the problem: denial, minimizations, blame, rationalizations, diversions
Behavioral Red Flags for Addiction
- Missed work/ personal engagements/school
- Relationship problems
- Isolating oneself
- Financial problems (especially, needing money)
- Keeping secrets
- Difficulty in school
- Lying to loved ones (particularly, to cover the addiction or minimize its harm)
Physical Red Flags for Addiction (In particular, for substance abuse)
- 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
A quick skim of this list shows the destruction and devastation that addiction can bring to people’s lives. Addiction is destruction and far-reaching, even into the lives of those who love the addict. In a lot of ways, addiction is a parasite. It is a disease that will ensure its own survival through depleting its host. Addiction demands people’s whole lives—their finances, career, health, and well-being. Without intervention, addiction will escalate, often until an individual’s life is in danger.
“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 San Diego—Counseling and Therapy
What is happening in your life right now? If you recognize some of the emotional, physical, or behavioral signs of addiction, then it may be time to get help. Know that help is available. Consider reaching out to Thriveworks San Diego. Our counselors have helped many people find the treatment they need to fight their addiction. We work hard for our clients, providing informed and compassionate care. Thriveworks San Diego has appointments available for addiction.
We know that battling addiction is difficult. Scheduling treatment for addiction should not be. When you contact our office, a scheduling specialist will answer and help you make an appointment. You will not reach a voicemail. Instead, you may be meeting with your therapist the following day. We also offer weekend and evening appointments, and we accept many forms of insurance. Contact Thriveworks San Diego today.