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Losing Touch With Friends Because They Become Addicts

Updated on September 22, 2011


In America, lists of "symptoms to watch for" are published by a number of agencies and organizations with the hope of catching drug abuse or similar afflictions in time to remedy before a user inadvertently commits suicide in an overdose.

We see the posters and Public Service Announcements so often that we may become tired of seeing them! We may think that neither we nor any of our family or friends will ever fall to that syndrome. However, such problems affect persons in all demographics. The symptom lists also apply to other addictions: food addiction, gaming addictions, gambling, spending problems, sex addicition, shoplifting, and several others.

Spending is a problem that can be pretty crafty in its operations, but then all addictions are insidious. They are entities unto themselves that do not want to be destroyed. Their powerless hosts do everything in their capabilities to protect the addictions until they decide to stand against them.

For example, I once knew a lively 20-something couple that changed within a year of marriage. They began to take out bank loans every Christmas season in order to purchase high-priced presents for everyone in their two extended families (most of these were wealthy) and for friends they thought were "rich". The problem did not reveal itself fully until friends noticed that the man and woman stopped communicating with in-town friends while still in their early thirties. Something was wrong.

Friends ran into this couple and noted that their clothing was ragged. The husband was laid off by the same family for whom he had bought expensive gifts at his wife's insistence and the wife refused to work. She took heavy doses of narcotics, slept most of the day, and was up all night on the computer. Friends learned that the couple had lost a dozen credit cards and four checking accounts to over-limit spending, were three months behind in their mortgage, their utilities were about to be cut off, but they had three Cable TV boxes and Internet hookups. Their lives had become filled with Cable TV series, online shopping, and for her, sex-related chat rooms. I don't know what ever became of them.

Habits and Obsessions

Another couple made it a habit to eat in restaurants three times a day, until both husband and wife were downsized. They sold possessions to pay their bills, until they secured additional employment. They withdrew from friendships and moved away to another area of the country - embarrassed perhaps.

Moving out of state without a forwarding address was used by another person a group of friends and I once knew. Although he had a tremendously high income from both work and inheritances/investments, he never paid any of his bills. He lost his house and car, the utilities were cut off, and he abandoned his property.

His habit was to spend large amounts of money on new friends, then to abruptly snub them for newer friends. Those people he met that rejected gifts and money upfront, he rejected right away. This was some sort of "power over" others through a cycle of luring in and rejecting. He lost all his friends before he moved and one day he was just gone, his attorney managing his affairs and refusing to provide a forwarding address.


GONE | Source

Age Not a Factor

The range of age among my friends is from under 30 to 75 and I must say that staying in touch is more difficult with the older ones. This is true for both those that live in town and those that live out-of-state. The reason for much of this loss of touch is 1) online computer games and 2) chat rooms.

Men and women I know spend 14 to 18 hours per day, seven days a week, in online games and chat rooms. Online games are the largest culprit and who knows what would have been the result of the Internet had become popular in the 1960s and these folks had 50 years of it?

SecondLife creates a whole alternate world for a person's existence and relationships; and Runescape traps some players into accumulating "things" (hoarders) and completing mission after mission to accumulate scores and powers. I briefly was acquainted with a 70-year-old man that left his wife and moved into a one-room apartment in order to participate in SecondLife a greater number of hours each day. FaceBook games can present similar traps that use up the day and half the night.

While I have an imagination, I apply it to reality and so, enjoy science fiction rather than fantasy. I can concentrate for 8 hours on a research project, but on a fantasy game - no. However, many of these games are fantasy-based and can draw the imagination to such a extent that the players become engrossed and entranced. They lose interest in their friends, even those that live right next door

One of the freshman high school students dropped out of my martial arts classes afgter 6 weeks, becasue he was committed to a mental health institution. He had been playing an online computer game many hours each day for months and had become convinced that the game was the real world and visa versa.

After several months in treatment, he was released and his family moved to a rural area and eliminated the Internet in their home. But at the same time, his parents (age 40s) were deeply enmeshed in Renaissance Era life, much like an ongoing Live Action Role Playing Game (LARP), so this did not help their son. The family moved several times more and virtually disappeared.

Mental Health Disorders?

As much as I dislike mental health disorder labels, much of the behavior I mention above seems unhealthy.

I feel it also unfair to place a disorder label on a person's hobby. However, if one cannot leave an activity alone for a week, then I think it is a problem. Even working online can become more obsessive than before the Internet became popular and commonplace. Writers and online merchants think about "maintaining one's momentum" in online posting. Will they write enough? Do they post at the "right", most effective time of day? Do they feature enough products and blurbs?

Some IT-related jobs have become 24-hour-a-day on-call types of affairs as well. SmartPhones and iTouch-type devices make it convenient to check in with an employee, employer, or fellow gamer any time of day. Thus, some of what we might call obsessive may become the norm (average) within the next decade.

For example, the 19th-century Pony Express delivered mail at l-o-n-g intervals; today we have less-than-24-hour delivery of even "snailmail" and packages. In the 1940s - 1970s, women wrote to sweethearts in the US Army every day during WWII and Vietnam, and may have received an answer only every month or few months. Today, folks back home may expect texted messages hourly from some duty stations. Society changes, and so do mental illness titles and definitions.

Unnecessary Losses

The saddest losses of contact are unnecessary, in my opinion.

When friends refuse to answer the phone and tell you that they will communicate with you only on Facebook, SecondLife. or the Runescape messaging system, but you do not or cannot participate in any of these, then a tragic loss occurs.

When a friend moves across town from your neighborhood, but continues to work across the street from your home, you're a sahm (stay at home mom), and they refuse to stop by or call because they are in a hurry to get home to an Internet chat room, then they are probably not your friend, either - or they have a problem. Some individuals become very nasty if they cannot get to their chat room when they want to do so. This has happened to a few people I know.

Losing touch in the 21st Century may more often come to mean losing friends to electronicsrather than losing friends to a move across town or across the world. Instead of using the Internet and digital technologies for communications, some use it to create an insulated world for themselves. Some do not realize that they are doing so. In a few cases I have witnessed, an eviction notice or a death in the household were the events that changed the behaviors.

There must be easier ways to reconnect.

Humor Can Help

Fell asleep in a chat room...
Fell asleep in a chat room... | Source
":Just one more game"
":Just one more game" | Source


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Yes, it is a great loss and a sad one.

    • Purple Perl profile image

      Esther Shamsunder 

      9 years ago from Bangalore,India

      It is indeed sad that some people just fall down by the roadside and refuse to acknowledge that they need help, counseling or change their thinking for a better lifestyle that keeps them in good health and effectively manage relationships. Thanks for this eye opening hub, Patty.

    • profile image

      Mohammad Wasim 

      10 years ago from To become a good human being need love.

      Hub-pages always fascinating me and I feel admire to be a part of it.

      As far as addiction is concern, It is a kind of fatal disease. Sex addiction, Gambling addiction,Drug addiction, Alcohols and lot of other addicted things create obstacle in the way of progressive and to perform the pleasant life.

      These addictions are one reason of high divorce rate in our European society. Children are effected mostly to see the unfavourable relation between mother and father due to harmful addiction. No doubt the addictions are insidious.

      It is very important to discuss in the family and in friends circle before the deviation of their own and the children life. Parents much keep an sharp eyes on their children friends and their activities. The bad societies,addicted friends circles are mostly key responsible to bring such a hardly unrepairable addictions in a good family. Spending more time with children in good things and planting love in the families are pretty.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Exactly true. One cannot control another's addiction. it is best not to be sucked into it!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      10 years ago from London, UK

      An interesting point of view. It is very hard to stand back and do nothing because there is nothing you can do to stop or help.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      It's sometimes more like film depictions of possession, given the worst case behaviors I have seen and helped treat in psych practice. Some never recover, but others choose to do so.

      For the rest of us, as Elvis said: When things go bad, don't go with them.

    • MyFavoriteBedding profile image


      10 years ago from United States

      Patty, this is a great hub!! I guess anything that is overdone is considered addictive behavior. The sad thing is, these addictions not only effect the addict, but everyone around them. It is a viscous cycle in our society, and many people are not very sympathetic to the addict. People have to understand that it is a disease, just like any other disease, and it does not make a person bad.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thanks for comments? I agree that relationships - and I add work - ARE more important than online worlds.

      Yes, a couple people I know would only use Facebook, AOL and other messaging systems - no phones.

    • cheerfulnuts profile image


      10 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      What an interesting and though-provoking hub, Patty! I was reminded of someone I know who has become addicted to drugs and gambling. He was the adopted son of my rich distant relatives. All his things - from the clothes he wore to the car he drove - were very expensive. He was good-looking, too. But after his addiction, he had been sent to rehab several times. When he was released, he would go back to his old ways. He lost all his money, so he would go to his sick parents and beat them up to ask for money. It was very sad. His foster parents loved him very much, but they were helpless and gave in to his demands.

      His wife left him. He became a homeless person since then. My family has no idea what has happened to him now.

      I'm guilty about my own "addiction" to games LOL. But I think that as long as people don't let their addiction interfere with their daily functioning, and as long as they have enough time for important things, then their addiction is perfectly safe.

      Voted up!:)

    • profile image 

      10 years ago

      Fascinating reading Patty!...and I dont exist anymore except on the internet! It's hard to believe someone could only communicate on Facebook or not at all - is that true? OMG!

    • woodamarc profile image

      Marc Woodard 

      10 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      It's simply amazing how one's life purpose can become addicted to a substance, person, place or thing in a way that it absorbs and replaces the most important relationships of all... Family and close friends. Great hub!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @drbj - You made me laugh!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thanks for all the worthy comments above! They all add to the topic immensely.

      Now, some of the Internet users I knew that were online for 3/4 of the 24-hour clock (I knew several and mentioned only one or two) were unemployed and supported by a spouse or had moved back home to parents' houses. HOWEVER, some received disability incomes that were sometimes quite large - from under $600 up to $3,500 a month in the mid-2000s. That's $42,000/year, tax-free.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @leni - Thanks very much but "Elite" only means that I am a volunteer; but I appreciate your praise!

    • leni sands profile image

      Leni Sands 

      10 years ago from UK

      We need to all stop and think about whether we are becoming addicted to something. Especially with the internet being so accessible. I don't buy on ebay or Amazon anymore but I do browse alot. I used to think that I couldn't stay away from my hubpages and guess what? I can't...Great hub, well written and thought through. This is why you deserve to be one of the HubPages Elite. My do I ever wanna catch up!

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 

      10 years ago

      Wow Patty! GREAT Hub! I have such profound admiration for your insights so I know the above is true! Much of it is news to me! Thank you for increasing all our awareness about some of the lesser-known addictions! Blessings always, Earth Angel!

    • BlissfulWriter profile image


      10 years ago

      Wow, that is an eye-opener. How does one spend 14 to 18 hours per day on online? Do they not have to work?

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 

      10 years ago from Great Britain

      This was a marvellous , balanced hub . l know exactlywhat you mean about losing friends to addictions, in my case, alcohol and/or drugs were the problem. Now l have no way of contacting them and don´t knowif they are dead or alive.

      The image you portrayed of a ´friend´passing your home to get to their favourite chat room, just goes to show how sad it is that modern technology can be so amazing, but like almost anything else can be abused.

      Great piece of work, Thank you.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      10 years ago from south Florida

      Compelling and interesting hub, Patty. I would never fall into that addiction trap because . . . wait a minute, I need to check this text message . . .

    • profile image

      Ratanak Ou 

      10 years ago

      That's very interesting to read your new hub.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      10 years ago

      This is a problem I worry about for me as I don't trust the internet. I'm a shut in for much of the winter because of balance issues and I work at a home office-not what I would prefer but that is what is available to me right now. Even before I was laid off as a bookkeeper last year, I did all my bookkeeping at home and not see anyone not related to me. I spend a lot of time on hubpages, but I try to read things of meaning, leave comments that require thought-not allways possible-and publish on a regular basis to keep my mind focused and productive. There was a time in my life after I graduated from universuity that I was so unused to seein people that I felt paranoid in the everyday use of the term to go outside in my yard because someone might see me. I needed professional help to fix this, and I don't want this to happen again.

    • VENZKHVAM profile image


      10 years ago from Milk way galaxy, trying to find a more adventurous place in another galaxy with my great followers

      Finance is some thing if not managed has spoiled many a good relation ship.

      When this no contact symptoms start, it is purely out of guilty or ego or may be other compulsions, but one thing is sure they are on a path of destructive life styles.

      So these addictions, if discussed at least with the closest friends will obviously & may possibly get an analysis and solution before the deviation of their own lives.

      Many a people always try to live a hypothetical and public pleasing life.For all these set of people this particular hub is really an eye opener and a realisation time.

      I had always liked your hubs for its implications on social issues.

      I had liked reading this and thanks for sharing

      I had voted this up and interesting.

      with warm regards

      Dinesh Nair

    • A M Lehrer profile image

      A M Lehrer 

      10 years ago from Southern United States

      O my goodness! I never thought of addiction this way. Very crazy and informative! I'm going to log off now and go to bed.


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