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How to Identify Addiction Within Yourself

Updated on May 20, 2013
A painting entitled The Morphine by S. Rusiñol dated back to 1894 to portray a victim of addiction.
A painting entitled The Morphine by S. Rusiñol dated back to 1894 to portray a victim of addiction. | Source

Look Deep Within Yourself

It always seems to easy for others to tell you that you have a problem with substances or certain behaviors. It feels that the world is ganging up on you, telling you to seek help for something that makes you happy and aids you in enjoying life. It feels that no one wants you to be truly happy, and that they are trying to pry the life out of you, feeding off of your depression, making you isolate yourself and lie to your loved ones, so that you can protect your tiny shred of joy.

Even when everyone around you seems to notice dependency, addiction, and abuse within you, you cannot see what they see. You look in the mirror and notice slight changes, but you see a person who has found a niche, spiraling into a place where you are content, warm, and gleeful (or so it seems). Where no one else accepts you, your addiction protects you. Where the world seems to be against you, your addiction comforts you. It can be difficult to come to terms with your own abusive behaviors, but once you recognize your personal abuse, you can travel a path to fix it. Your addiction doesn't make you whole, it tricks you, manipulates you, lies to you, steals your true happiness, destroys your life, and then kills you. Addiction preys on weakness, depression, and self loathing. Learn to distinguish your pain, so that you can find the help and the happiness that you truly deserve. Kick your bad habit to the curb to live a fulfilling life in the light, instead of burying yourself in the darkness.

What is an Addict?

An addict is a person who has let an addicting behavior and/or substance to control them; they allow a behavior(s) and/or a substance to lead them in poor decisions. An addict is not a bad person but has allowed themselves to be corrupt into making bad decisions. An addict is someone who has been lost in the shadows, someone who has given up most of themselves, most of their good, to make room for demons that only wish to drag them deeper into the darkness. An addict is lost, but they still have hope, they can still change. There is still a light within them and it shines through their tear filled eyes and through their damaged and broken smile.

What is Addiction?

Before you can notice your actions, poor decisions, and addiction, you must first understand what addiction is before you can identify it within yourself. Without this understanding your behaviors will go unnoticed and you will continue on a destructive and dark path steered by demons, fueled by anger.

According to the dictionary, addiction is the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

An addiction is an action, behavior, or a habit that gives one a false sense of euphoria that develops into destruction of ones bank account, personal relationships, and internal emotions. If your behaviors and habits have enslaved you and carried you into the darkness, it is safe to say that you have an addiction, and you will not be able to change your actions unless you admit that fact to yourself.

Identify Your Specific Addiction

The first step you must take before you can help yourself and step off of the path of destruction and onto the road to recovery, is to identify the addiction that is taking control of your life. Addiction can come in many forms, many behaviors, and many substances that steer you down a path of self destruction. People can become addicted to one specific substance or behavior, but others can become addicted to many. Before you can save yourself from a rock bottom that will swallow you whole, you must determine what is pushing you down, and covering your mouth from screaming for the help of those who surround you.


Are You an Alcoholic?

Are you able to drink just one beer and save the rest for the morning? Or do you suck down every bottle and feel empty again when you reach the last drop? Do you have a tolerance that exceeds all of your family and friends? Do you find yourself feeling defensive and lying about how much you actually drink? Do you ever feel guilty about drinking? Ashamed? Alone?

An alcoholic is a person who cannot control their drinking but waste all efforts trying expecting that they can be like the normal people who have a beer at dinner and go to bed with five more in the refrigerator. An alcoholic is one who craves a drink when they roll out of bed, thinks about it throughout their day, and dreams about it when they are asleep. An alcoholic is one who has one drink, then a second, and a third, and a forth until it is all gone (and then the alcoholic will more than likely try to buy more). An alcoholic will drink more than the average person, tolerate it, wake up without a hangover, and begin the vicious cycle all over again. The alcoholic spends more money on booze than on household bills and spends more time connected to a bottle than with friends and family. The alcoholic grows weary of his lies, deception, drinking, binging, and the hole left in his pocket. The alcoholic needs to gain control but can't seem to find it at the bottom of the bottle. The alcoholic hates himself and covers up his self loathing and depression in a tidal wave of booze, drowning himself, making him feel numb. The alcoholic loves the warm sensation of the drunken liquid flowing down their throat, filling their stomach, replacing their blood. They love that the alcohol gives them a sense of strength and happiness. An alcoholic feels that they need alcohol in order to make friends and to feel good about themselves. Drinking becomes first nature, taking control over the alcoholics life, personal relationships, work ethic, and emotions, and will eventually destroy everything. The walls will close in, the alcohol will flood the room, and the alcoholic will drown.

If you are an alcoholic, don't drown in your sea of dependence, start now by getting the help you need and deserve and start living your life on dry land.

Are You Addicted to Narcotics?

Perhaps you don't drink, perhaps you go to the streets looking for a hook and synthetic happiness. Do you hide behind drugs? Do you buy illegal prescriptions or hardcore narcotics, such as heroin or cocaine? Do you love the sense of flooding euphoria and instant gratification?

For a person who is addicted to narcotics there is usually a deep seeded depression that flows through their veins, and one tries to flush it out by flooding their veins with euphoria that comes from narcotics. The person who is addicted to narcotics can't just try a new drug once and move on from the experience, but instead they fall in love; they fall into a destructive love. They can't let the feeling of numbness leave their soul, so they go to venture for a stronger, better, more euphoric hit than the first, but that hit doesn't exist, and the more they use the more they bury themselves into a false reality that one day they will find it. The more they use, the more hatred one feels for themselves, and eventually the euphoria is replaced by withdrawal, and with withdrawal comes not only the desire for more but the need for more. Soon the substance seems to be the thin line between life and death. It seems that the substance puts strength into the addicts bones, stops them from shaking, puking, and fearing the worst.

Other Behaviors One Can Become Addicted to Are:

  • Exercise
  • Extreme Dieting
  • Food
  • Sex
  • Porn
  • Gambling
  • Body Modification

Recognize the Behaviors of an Addict

There are many distinguishing behavior patterns that the addict engages in. Addiction changes ones behavior drastically, and this is due to the constant need and desire for one to get a fix. An addict tends to only think about their addiction and they have a very difficult time recognizing behavioral changes that effect not only their life performance, but those of the lives around them as well. if you can recognize some of these behaviors in yourself, it may indicate that you have and addiction.

Many behavioral changes that effect the addict are (but are not limited to):

  • Sudden drop in attendance and/or performance at school and/or in the workplace

  • Constant complaints from peers, teacher, coworkers, supervisors

  • Financial struggle, unusual desire, longing and/or need for [more] money

  • Becoming more silent and secretive

  • Lying more often

  • Engaging in suspicious and/or destructive behavior

  • Sudden change in friends and relationships

  • Sudden change or loss of personal hobbies

  • Frequently getting into trouble

  • Frequent arguments and/or fights

  • Engaging in illegal or dangerous activities

  • An outspoken need for something

  • Isolation

Recognize the Emotional Signs and Symptoms of an Addict

There are also many emotional and psychological changes in the addict as well. An addiction puts a lot of emotion strain on a person, and it soon becomes obvious that the addict is struggling.

The emotional struggle includes:

  • Unexplainable change or shift in personality and attitude

  • Sudden mood swings and/or changes

  • Irritability

  • Angry outbursts

  • Abnormally happy

  • Laughing at nothing

  • Periods or spouts of unusual hyperactivity and/or agitation

  • Lack of motivation

  • Inability to focus

  • Appearing lethargic or “spacey”

  • Paranoia

  • Increases anxiety

  • Depression

  • Appearing withdrawn

  • Appearing fearful

  • A sudden sense of longing or need for a certain vice

Recognize the Physical Signs of an Addict

Some addicts also begin to show physical signs of addiction (these signs are usually connected with substance and/or alcohol abuse).

  • Bloodshot eyes

  • Pupils that are either larger or smaller that normal (opiates and opioids make the pupils smaller while hallucinogens and stimulates make the pupils larger)

  • Frequent nosebleeds (this is related to snorting drugs)

  • Changes in appetite

  • Sudden weight changes-- either rapid weight loss or weight gain

  • Changes in sleeping habits (the person may be more awake and alert more than usual, or may sleep longer and more often)

  • Inexplainable injuries, cuts, pokes, or bruises (or refusal to explain these injuries)

  • Deterioration of personal health and/or hygiene

  • Unusual smells on the persons breath, hair, clothing, and/or body

  • Shakes

  • Tremors

  • Seizures

  • Squinting, or inability to fully open eyes

  • Incoherent or slurred speech

  • Change in alertness (the person may be very alert, or not alert at all)

  • Impaired coordination

  • Physical withdrawal

  • Tolerance

Anything can Become an Addiction

Anything can transform into an addiction. If you are spending most of your money, your time, your energy, and wasting all of your thoughts thinking about a specific substance and/or behavior than you are more than likely addicted to it. You are swayed into acting in a certain way or living a certain way to make room for the vice you believe you cannot live without. You form relationships with those whom accept your addiction and your use and decrease your interaction with those who do not. You believe that you are in control, but in reality, your addiction controls you. If you believe you have a serious addiction, keep reading to learn how to find and walk on the path of recovery.

The Path to Recovery

Becoming a slave to your actions and behaviors are not normal human responses. You are allowing these things to take over your life because there is a deeper emotional connection with your addiction; you are trying to cover up something else that has a severe emotional strain on your personal being. These stresses and emotional strains are very difficult for you to confront and deal with in a healthy and proper way, so instead you cover it up with substances or addictive behaviors to keep your mind numb and occupied shoving your thoughts far into the back of your mind. The more you make yourself numb and the longer you allow your emotions to become faded, the stronger they become, and the more you use to hide it and ignore it, creating a vicious cycle for yourself, burying yourself deeper into false hope. It is possible for you to receive proper help if you follow certain steps and are personally willing to help yourself.

Realize that You Have a Problem

The first step onto the path of recovery is the realization that you have a problem that is beyond your control. Without a personal realization of your loss of control and your usage of addictive behavior and/or substances you cannot recover fully and will always be chasing something that you will never find. If you try to recover for the sake of those around you and you do not see in yourself what outsiders do, you will never get better, and you will never be able to soak up all the information necessary for proper recovery. You must come to a personal understanding of your addiction, you must personally understand that your actions will destroy your life and lead you into hell. You must realize that if you do not recover there are very devastating consequences that you will endure. If you cannot see the reflection you produce, you cannot help yourself.

A Will for Recovery

The second step on your journey to recovery is to find a willingness deep inside of yourself to make a very hard, demanding, long, tedious, emotional change in your life. Even without a full realization and understanding of your addiction, you can find a will to recover. Some people need to hit rock bottom and never have a will to change. Others never see what awaits them in the devilish dark shadows and find a will to change very quickly afraid of whats was waiting with jaws wide open. You will have to find your will on your own time, but if you wish to change, and hope to recover, you have to find the will to do so. Without a will there is no way out.

Separate Yourself from Triggers, Negativity, and Enablers

To travel a safe road to recovery you must separate yourself (this is completely different from isolating yourself). You must separate yourself from personal triggers, negativity, and those who only enable you. You must come to an understanding of what certain triggers are that bring out the addiction in you and you must avoid these triggers (at least until you gain a sense of control over the addiction). Triggers can include parties, bars, horse races, casinos, going fishing, and even driving. A trigger is something that gives you a strong craving to bring your addiction out to feel a sense of normalcy, when you feel this urge, don't try to forget about it, think about it, how it makes you feel, and what exactly is triggering the urge, and then try to avoid that trigger as much as you can to avoid relapse.

Just as you should avoid personal triggers, you must avoid negativity as well. Constant negativity can bring you down, making you depressed, and making you feel incompetent, which then urges you to use. Negativity can come in many forms, it can come from certain family members, it can come from certain friends, it can come from deep within yourself. Find the negativity in your life that makes you feel like an awful person and rid it from your life, this can be very difficult, but if you cannot rid your life from negativity and surround yourself with positive influences it will seem impossible to get the help you truly need.

You must also separate yourself from those who enable you. Enablers are the people who allow you to believe that you do not have a problem with your vice, they make you believe that you can use and never live a single consequence, and they help you use, they help you lie, they help you hide. These people do not have your best interest in mind. These people notice that you are happy when you have your addiction in your life, and they do not necessarily believe they are causing you any harm, but the truth is, is that they are. To be able to control your addiction, your triggers, to gain positivity, you must separate yourself from your enablers. Enablers can be good friends or even family members and it may be very difficult to keep a healthy distance between yourself and them, but it is necessary. When you gain a sense of control and confidence you may be able to one day confront them and explain your feelings, and your enablers can even turn into supporters, but that is a rare outcome.

Find a Support System

Once you find a way to separate yourself from all of the negative actions, behaviors and people in your life, you then need to venture out into the world to find a solid support system that works for you on your path to recovery. Everyone finds a support system in different way. Some find it in friends that do not condone their addiction. Some people find it in their families. Some people find it in group therapy, therapist, or in recovery centers (such as rehab). You have to find what personally works for you. What has worked for others may not help you, but without a strong support system you will easily slip back into bad behaviors, poor decisions, and addiction. Once you are open and honest about your addiction you will be able to find a strong support system that only wants to aid you into getting better.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is a place where people that have the same addiction and dependency issues as you can come together talk, gain support, gain confidence, and vent about their problems. Addiction can make you feel isolated and alone, but there are many people out there that feel the same way, it may be helpful to know this and listen to other peoples horror stories about their personal addiction and success stories of their recovery to give you a sense of hope.

Personal Therapy

Personal therapy is where you can go to talk about your emotional strains, addiction, and afflictions to an educated professional that can ask you the proper questions to get you thinking about why you turn to addiction, and to point out the emotional strain that may have caused you to form an addiction.

Rehabilitation Centers

Rehabilitation centers are also a great option for those who find separation and boundaries difficult. Rehabilitation centers provide one with distance, boundaries, consequences, and therapy sessions for those who need it.

Recovery Centers for Addiction

Addiction Recovery Center:
Dartmouth Center on Addiction, Recovery and Education, Hanover, NH 03755, USA

get directions

Rehabilitation Center:
Rehab Center, Stoughton, MA 02072, USA

get directions

Addiction Recovery:
Addiction Prevention & Recovery, 1300 1st St NE # 3, Washington, DC 20002, USA

get directions

Addiction Recovery:
Broward Addiction & Recovery, 1011 Middle Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312, USA

get directions

Find a Healthier Hobby

It is extremely important to try to discover a healthier hobby that will occupy your mind and curb your addiction cravings. You have put so much time, money, and energy into your addiction and that energy does not just dissipate (even with years of sobriety under your belt). You must find a hobby that you can put your heart and soul into, something that will keep your thoughts busy, and to decrease the urge to use.

Some healthy hobbies include:

  • Writing
  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Hiking
  • Walking
  • Running
  • Exercise
  • Cooking

Never Stray Off of Your Road to Recovery

Once you step onto the road to recovery it is very important that you never get dragged into the shadows again. If you have decided to recover, you have come further than many people, and you should continue to work hard at a productive and “normal” life. You are a good person, you can do this.

Always Remember

Addiction is a serious issue that causes great strain and consequence in ones life. If you have begun to take steps toward identifying your specific addiction and ways to become healthier, mentally, emotionally, and physically that means you are taking the very first necessary step into getting better and walking on a brighter path. Everyone has to find ways to cope in their own time and in their own way, never give up!


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    • JamiJay profile imageAUTHOR

      Jami Johnson 

      6 years ago from Somewhere amongst the trees in Vermont.

      Thank you Michelle! It is truly scary that one can seriously become addicted to anything. An addiction is a state of mind, but not an act of being. One can be a good person, but their mind controls them into thinking otherwise. It is truly a difficult thing to overcome but it is entirely possible. Thanks for reading! I hope you stop by my hubs more often!

    • profile image

      Michelle Widmann 

      6 years ago

      I love how detailed and informative this hub is - well-organized, too! I like how you focus on the most common forms of addiction, but I think some of these points are also applicable to some more uncommon types of addictions. A person can get addicted to anything - which is, to me, what makes it so scary.


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