When you think of your favorite things, you probably experience a flood of sensory images. Your favorite foods smell spiced and sweet; your favorite colors are vivid and bright. The things we tend to do —and should—bring us pleasure. Unfortunately, addictions also deal with pleasure and reward. But because those are inherently good things, it can be hard to determine whether their sources are driving an addiction. Everything from food to video games can become addictive when they cause negative or destructive behavior. The following signs can help to identify addictive behavior—in yourself or a loved one.
One of the tell-tale signs of addiction is the inability to stick to a corrected course. When people try to turn away from problematic behavior but consistently turn back, even after promising themselves they won’t, it could be because of the loss of control that comes from addiction. Most people struggling with addictions do not want to consider that addiction is a reality, so they believe they will be able to just stop participating in problematic behavior. In one illustration, someone wanting to stop watching pornography might say to themselves, “this is the last time,” only to find themselves indulging only a few days later. When this tendency to revert back to the behavior persists, especially over a long period of time, it may be a sign of addiction.
When compulsions drive behavior for periods longer than initially planned, it can become problematic. For example, maybe you told yourself you’d only play a video game for an hour, but six hours passed and you’re still playing. This situation could definitely be considered addictive if there is the rationalization that you just want to play for a little bit longer. That language is indicative of a lack of control and can quickly become addictive if not confronted.
Another acid test for addiction is whether or not there is a presence of anxious feelings when certain behaviors are stopped. If you stop doing certain things, or think about stopping them, your first reactions can be incredibly informative about your behavioral trends. Addicts struggle to even think about stopping participating in their reward of choice. Feelings of anxiety, especially if they’re heightened, could reflect addiction. If the thing or behavior has taken up so much real estate in your life that you feel panic—or even pain—when you stop doing it, it may be a sign of addiction. The addict will have strong negative reactions to the possibility of stopping.
One of the most conspicuous signposts of addiction is the prevalence of disruptions in your life. When participating in your addicting reward of choice, be it video games or sex, you should still be able to live your life unhindered. Basic integrity should not be compromised, like showing up to work or taking care of your children. A loved one is probably going to notice these disruptions first. They may see you failing to take care of basic hygiene because you have prioritized addictive behaviors over it. When the consumption of drugs or alcohol, in another example, interferes with your ability to perform at your work, then there are deeper problems. This is often the sign that precedes intervention because people who are suffering from addiction and allowing disruption can soon be at risk for their lives. They may put others in danger as well. A disruption can quickly turn into neglect or abuse, so friends and family will need to respond quickly.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does include some of the more noticeable signs of addiction. When taken together, it should be quite easy to perceive whether you or a loved one is battling addiction. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be fought alone. Contact Novus Mindful Life today. We can help you.
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