Mike and Glenn
“Addiction Signs” Part 1; Understanding the addict
Updated: Jan 14
On a recent sober.coffee podcast, we discussed a trending topic or common search term; “Signs a Loved One Has a Drug Addiction.” Click here to hear the discussion.
As we prepared this accompanying blog(s), our hearts went out to those whose fingers typed that phrase. Assuming it wasn't one person who queried these hundreds of thousands of times, we are left with the fact that hundreds of thousands of people asked this painful question. Additional statistics show that millions have a devastating hold of alcohol and drug addictions.
This post talks to the loved ones on the outside looking in and hopes to provide healing through understanding as we walk through some common “signs” of addiction from the vantage of the addict.
A good starting point for any problem-solving exercise is to understand the problem. On this topic, we wish to share the behavioral attributes we possessed while in addiction. This list is neither all-inclusive nor scientific but should be considered a good starting point for insight.
The addict is sometimes secretive.
For the alcoholic, it began when we started hiding our addiction. Early on, the beer was in the refrigerator, and the bottles were in the cabinet where all could see. Ultimately, in a quest to hide the level of consumption, the alcohol was moved to places where it would be harder to find; bedrooms, garages, storerooms, attics, etc. The alcoholic thinks these are safe havens for his inventory under protection from watchful eyes when attempting to hide consumption levels. For the drug addict, this could look like locked rooms, carrying bags, and being protective of purses and private areas.
The addict is sometimes dishonest.
While some people possess this characteristic fundamentally, addicts tend to take it to the next level lying about small and large things. Some examples are; where we were, who we were with, how much we drank, and how much we spent. Over time, we found that lying became our go-to in almost all scenarios. This pains the addict as it is complicated and cumbersome to keep up with the made-up details. But we continue on that course anyway as you never want the world you know how bad it is.
The addict is sometimes moody.
Drug and alcohol use is, by definition, mood-altering. We can go from happy to sad, elated to depressed, and melancholy to manic as the alcohol or drug plays through our system, affecting different aspects of our brain. We can't make ourselves feel one way or another. If we could, we would choose happy as that is always our quest in using - but euphoria constantly alludes us, so we up our intake to attempt to recapture “the good.”
The addict sometimes has problems with sleep.
For the addict, sleep only interrupts the pattern so heavily reinforced in waking hours. We don't sleep for pleasure. We pass out; we don’t sleep at all; is a more realistic definition. We want to stay up and continue our quest to recapture a level of pleasure and push ourselves to exhaustion. We know that our sleep patterns are abnormal, and others do. But until we get sober, our bodies will manage that clock.
The addict sometimes has varying energy levels.
After the body gets some rest and we inject new “energy” into our systems, we feel vibrant and energetic. Heck, we could move an automobile with our own bare hands. Moments later, it could take all our strength to lift a glass to our lips. We are sure that there is a chemical cycle within us that our behavior becomes evident to us and obvious to others. Again, there is little that we can do to mask this.
The addict sometimes shows rapid attitude changes.
As with energy levels, our attitudes about all things big and small change on the dime; we hear the same thing twice, which could affect us in two different ways. There is no predicting what our attitude will be as the chemicals will dictate of responses. Even when we want to be in a happy place, because the environment is comfortable doesn't mean we will be satisfied. And similarly, sad situations won’t affect us if we are over-chemically imbalanced. This is something to look out for as the loved one, as the addict can't see it at all.
The addict is sometimes disinterested.
Things that once felt pleasurable now possess little to no joy or appreciation. These could be hobbies like gardening, skiing, golfing, etcetera, or they could be fundamental life phenomena like family time and careers. This also is a frustrating point for the addict as, by default, we seek pleasure and find that our depression is exasperated as the things that used to bring us natural delight no longer do.
The addict is sometimes irresponsible.
We all know the right things to do; pay the bill, comb our hair, do the speed limit, and return the phone call. Though this may be a trait for the average person, simply executing responsibility, the addict takes it to a whole new level; we don’t miss just one or two things but ultimately miss them all; Picking kids up from school, paying the mortgage, driving drunk.
We hate to beat a dead horse, but the addict knows that these are destructive behaviors, but we don't have the gumption to right the ship. This is one area of drastic change when one is sober. Sober people are responsible. It is also an area of relapse indicator that the responsibilities are beginning to drop from the addict's life.
The addict is sometimes forgetful
We believe this goes with responsibility, but it's a little more chemical-induced. Forgetting somebody called, forgetting somebody told us something, ignoring an important event. These are indicators that the chemicals are affecting the recall quadrant of our brain. Again, this is frustrating for the addict, who is quickly written off and self-forgiving as the next drink or drug is the priority, and there is little concern about brain deterioration.
The addict sometimes steals
Where does it start? Probably with a padded expense account or stealing money from the family budget envelopes to support our habits. An attic will find a way to keep our practices afloat. There is a physical need to continue to draw the drug of choice, and morality and ethics are deeply discounted obstacles in our quest to stay high. This makes no sense to the average person, but if I told the average person that water was no longer available in the world, I would assume they would stoop to the lowest levels for survival. And that is what we are talking about here: survival of the habit is essential in the addict’s world.
The addict sometimes changes associates.
Said a more straightforward way, changing one's friends and associates is an early indicator of future trouble. Birds of a feather flock together, and we can say that hanging with sober people was not an option for us as we grew deeper in our illness. We have seen in thousands of cases that networks are formed of like minds so that drinkers will hang with drinkers, and druggers will hang with druggers - until even that doesn't become fun or productive, and we move on to isolation, which we will discuss further down the list.
The addict is sometimes paranoid.
This one comes very late in the addiction cycle from our vantage. We are not scientists, but our brains get affected and defective while using. We can't say that this paranoia is part of everybody's story, but it is often an attribute as addiction deepens.
The addict is sometimes aggressive.
Confront an addict and be prepared to see a new level of aggression. Here's the thing, we know what you're saying is accurate, and we were angry at ourselves long before you got angry at us. We are trapped in a place we see no escaping—painted into a corner if you will. We will not be honest about the level of our addiction or pain. Anger masks frustration and fear. We know there is no stopping the loved one from broaching the subject of our addiction, but until we surrender and seek help, no sentence structure will heal our deeply hurt souls.
The addict is sometimes, in the end, an isolator.
This is the topper and the behavior of most significant concern Isolation, though caused by the addict, is the addict’s best scenario and worst nightmare at the same time. It was finally coming to a point where we could be alone with their addiction, free from the world's input and any accountability. The isolator initially thrives in their self-professed freedom but ultimately aches for the relationship’s loss. This conundrum, in our case, led to severe anxiety and depression. We got what we wanted but didn’t like what we got.
This is the area where suicidal tendencies are born. This is the area you never want to see anybody in. This is the area that screams for outside help. This is the area where we pray for the addict and the loved ones of addicts. This is where we put our contact information for you to reach out to if you need help:
SUICIDED HOTLINE dial 988 on any live phone
Mike and Glenn’s phone number is 630-401-8583 for non-suicidal calls
Mike and Glenn’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from sober.coffee podcast #92 Titled: #Trending Series: Pt 5: Signs a Loved One Has a Drug Addiction The podcast dropped on12/28/2022 click here to hear the podcast
Photo by Greta Schölderle Møller on Unsplash
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication, nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be thought of as a substitute for advice of healthcare professionals. The authors advice and viewpoints are their own.