Addictions can happen to anyone for any reason. While the things people become addicted to can be as diverse as cooking and exercise, people with addictions have several things in common. If you identify with any of these confessions, you may have a habit that is disrupting your life.
Signs and Symptoms of Being Addicted
1. “I avoided being social.”
Many people with addictions will choose to stay home to feed their desires. This habit can be as simple as staying home to watch television when you want to go out with friends. It may also include neglecting friendships. Isolation is a universal sign in many people with addictions. If you find yourself pulling away from friends and family, you could be in the first stages of addiction. Try to force yourself out of the habit and connect with other people.
2. “I couldn’t stop thinking about the behavior.”
If something starts to consume your every waking thought, you may be developing an addiction to it. Even things as healthy as fitness can become addictive if you don’t allow your life to have any balance. You may also have trouble concentrating on other things when you have constant thoughts about your addictive behavior. These thoughts may affect your relationships. With distracting thoughts about your addiction, paying attention to loved ones becomes more difficult. You could lose your friends or significant other due to your addictive behavior.
3. “My grades in school dropped.” Or “My work performance suffered.”
Part of addiction involves difficulty feeling present in other situations. If you are addicted to exercise, you may feel so tired from regular workouts that getting work done is difficult. You may even have distracting thoughts about your behavior that keep you from focusing on your coworkers or teachers. A drop in performance is one area where other people notice the effect the addiction has on your life.
4. “I wasn’t sleeping like I used to.”
Addictions aren’t just 9-5 habits. They affect you 24 hours of the day. If you find yourself staying up too late or getting up much earlier than you should, you may have a problem. While staying up to finish reading a book or watch a movie occasionally is normal, losing sleep regularly is detrimental. By sacrificing your sleep, you’ll harm your health, and you also increase your chances of making the kinds of slip-ups that lead to things like car accidents.
5. “I just couldn’t stop.”
Maybe you’ve tried to stop on your own but couldn’t. If you couldn’t give up your addictive behavior through willpower alone, you have a problem. Addictive behaviors would not be severe if anyone could drop them easily. The DSM-5, the psychiatry diagnostic manual, does not recognize all addictions. But that does not mean they are not serious. Many doctors still consider a variety of unrecognized conditions as real addictions.
6. “My eating habits changed.”
Some addictions can make you eat more while others reduce your intake. If you give up meals to engage in a behavior, you could have a problem. Another addiction many don’t consider is overeating. Binge eating is not just having a big meal but eating past the point of feeling full because you feel compelled to. Food addiction and skipping meals can both negatively affect your health. If you think you’re not eating as you should due to your addiction, consult with a dietitian or your doctor.
7. “I was spending too much money.”
Addictions hurt your pocketbook. Though many hobbies need some financial investment, addictive habits take up too much of your paycheck. If you pay for addictive behaviors over bills, you may have a problem. For example, if you buy new video games and skip out on paying your car payment, you are allowing your addiction to rule your decisions. Consequences of this could include bankruptcy and having utilities shut off or possessions repossessed.
8. “I was using the behavior to avoid uncomfortable emotions.”
Everyone experiences feelings of sadness or loneliness at times. How you deal with those emotions is essential. Acknowledging them and finding ways to alleviate negative emotions is a healthy response. Turning to addictive behavior to ignore the feelings is not healthy.
Feeling out-of-place at a party and spending the entire time on your cell phone is a maladaptive behavior. Or you feel depressed at home and binge-watch television every night. Instead of turning to these addictive behaviors, try mindful meditation. In one study on meditation, participants reported positive changes in their brains just two months after the start of the study. Meditation can be an integral part of addiction recovery.
9. “I didn’t feel like myself when I couldn’t do the behavior.”
Feeling upset or angry for the rest of the day after bypassing lottery tickets at a store without buying some is a sign of a problem. Not engaging in the behavior can make someone who is addicted irritable and moody. Whether or not you do something should not affect your mood for several hours. This is related to needing the behavior to feel like your usual self.
10. “I had to do the behavior more often to feel normal.”
The hallmark of addiction is the need for more to feel the same effects. Using more for the same high is true of using drugs, abusing alcohol, gambling excessively and partaking in other addictions. Even if you only started out shopping a day or two a week, if it increases over time, you have a problem. You may feel that you don’t get the same satisfaction from the length of time you first engaged in the behavior. Needing more time for the same effect indicates changes in the brain that are occurring from the addiction. It means you have a real condition. And real problems have real solutions through therapy and recovery groups.
Help is Available When Addicted
Addiction is a real concern for millions of people. Recovery from any unhealthy behavior is difficult. But you don’t have to try it alone. If you cannot find a recovery group in your area for your problem, consult with a therapist. He can help you learn about healthier alternatives to the behavior. Also, trust your friends and family members to help you through the recovery process. With support, you can get your life back. If you or a loved one is addicted, call to speak to a Treatment Specialist for personalized assistance and guidance locating a treatment option that meets your unique needs and resources at 866-644-7911.