Gabe runs home from the bus stop and straight up into his room. He shuts the door and grabs the video game controller. His friend texts to see if he wants to play basketball at the park. Gabe ignores the text, focusing on his game. His mom calls for dinner, and he wonders how it could already be dinner time. She insists he come to the table. Gabe is irritated, but he goes. After dinner, he returns to his room and plays until after midnight. The next day and the next day and the next day, Gabe repeats this routine. His parents are worried. A year ago, Gabe came home from school and would play video games for an hour or so, but then he would do his homework and play with his friends. His parents are wondering if this is what it looks like to 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 manifest as a compulsive action—like Gabe. Sometimes, people cannot control how often they gamble, use the Internet, have sex, or shop. Addiction can also manifest as substance abuse—like Susan Cheever alludes to. People can abuse anything from prescription drugs to food to cocaine. But Susan is correct in that whatever form the addiction takes, it is not about the behavior or the substance. Addiction is an illness that changes people’s brains. It can have serious consequences in an individual’s life. It can also be treated.
The therapists at Thriveworks Wilmington understand addiction, and we understand the treatment options that are available. We have helped many addicts find the counseling, support groups, and willing they deserve.
Addiction’s Red Flags
Addiction disrupts a brain’s normal healthy balance so that endorphins and dopamine (pleasure hormones) flood the brain and self-regulation functions are bypassed. What is happening in the brain may not be visible to the naked-eye, but there are visible signs in people’s emotions, body, and behavior. Some of those red flags of addiction include…
Emotional Signs of Addiction
- Lack of awareness about the problem: denial, rationalizations, minimizations, blame, diversions
- Being unable to handle stress
- Loss of interest in people/activities that were once valued
- Obnoxious, silly, easily confused
Bodily Signs of Addiction
- Weight loss
- Red eyes, dilated pupils
- Being hyperactive or lethargic (depending upon the drug)
- Repetitive speech
- Excessive sniffing while not ill
- Body odor that is unpleasant or different
- Being undernourished or pale
Behavioral Signs of Addiction
- Missed work/school/personal engagements
- Isolating oneself
- Difficulty in school
- Keeping secrets
- Financial difficulties (particularly, needing money)
- Lying to loved ones (especially, to cover the addiction)
- Relationship problems
A quick glance at the red-flags can show that addiction can cause significant problems for both an individual and their loved ones. Addiction functions as a parasite in many ways. It will drain an individual so that it can fulfill its cravings. When people have an addiction, they put their well-being at risk, even possibly to the point of death. Addiction can cause people to sacrifice their own financial, physical, and relational health, much to their and their loved one’s harm. Early recognition and early intervention are often keys to successful treatment.
Myths about Addiction
As many as 21 million people are struggling with addiction in the United States, but it is a disease that is still severely misunderstood. Certain myths about addiction shame those who have it and can keep them from reaching out for help when they need help the most. It is important to counter these myths with the reality of what addiction is and how it functions.
Myth #1: Addicts Are Weak People.
Shame assigns blame to the individual instead of focusing upon treating the disease, and this myth is based upon shame. Addiction affects people in every religion, gender, socio-economic status, and age group. Just as cancer can develop in anyone, so can addiction.
Myth #2: Addiction Is a Choice.
This myth is also based upon shame. The truth is that no one chooses to be addicted. In fact, many people despise their addiction and want to change. They may not know how to change, and that is why treatment is so important.
Myth #3: Addiction Is Rare.
Addiction thrives when an individual is isolated and alone. There are many lies that addiction uses to entrap people, and one of the most potent says, you are all alone in this fight. The truth is that many have suffered from an addiction. Many have overcome an addiction. There are many forms of support—communities of people who understand and offer help without judgment or shame.
Setting Up an Appointment at Thriveworks Wilmington for Addiction Counseling
Are you fighting a compulsive behavior or substance abuse? If so, you are not alone. You do not have to fight alone. Reaching out for help may be the key to regaining control of your brain and of your life. Consider setting up and appointment for addiction counseling at Thriveworks Wilmington. When you call our office, a person will answer the phone and help you make an appointment. You may be meeting with your therapist the following day. We accept many forms of insurance, and we offer evening and weekend appointments. However, we do not put our clients on a waitlist. Let’s fight addiction together. Contact Thriveworks Wilmington today.