If you’re reading this blog post, someone you know probably came to mind when you read the title. Maybe it’s your significant other, your friend, your brother, or yourself.
Maybe you’re just curious. Regardless, it can be difficult to approach the possibility of an addiction without denial. When reading a list of symptoms, it’s easy to ignore the dawning sense of recognition that confirms a hunch that you couldn’t even bring yourself to label as a hunch. But for the sake of your loved one, or for the sake of the people who love you, it’s important to acknowledge the situation as it is, even if it’s uncomfortable, scary, or disheartening.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence lists the following as Signs of Addiction:
- Loss of Control: Continued use of drugs or alcohol despite promising not to, even with the expectation of negative consequences. This also includes using the substance for longer or more than was intended, and reckless risk taking.
- Neglecting Other Activities: Absences from work, school, family/social events and plans. Lack of interest in activities and hobbies that they usually enjoy.
- Secrecy and Relationship Issues: Being short-tempered, dishonest and uneasy around the people they are close to. Being deceitful and in denial about their substance use, habits and any related injuries or accidents.
- Changing Appearance: Lack of effort in upkeep of appearance and hygiene (can be seen in hair, clothes, cleanliness).
- Family History: People who have a family history of addiction are more predisposed to substance abuse than those who do not.
- Tolerance: As drug or alcohol use is increased in duration and quantity, so will the amount of the substance needed to get the same effect.
- Withdrawal: Experiencing “anxiety or jumpiness; shakiness or trembling; sweating, nausea and vomiting, insomnia, depression, irritability, fatigue or loss of appetite and headaches” as the substance’s effects wear off (NCADD).
If you think you or someone you love has an addiction, the first thing to keep in mind is that you are not alone. It might sound cliche, but it’s true. According to the National Institute of Mental Health: “In 2014, 20.2 million adults in the U.S. had a substance use disorder and 7.9 million had both a substance use disorder and another mental illness.” There are addiction treatment centers like The Aviary Recovery Center that specialize in recovery for people with substance abuse issues and support for their families and loved ones.
So what’s the next step? Researching treatment centers near you, different types of recovery programs, and blogs like this are great ways to begin reasserting your control over addiction. Being aware of the facts from associations like the NCADD and NIMH can also help strengthen your confidence entering into recovery. Knowledge really is power: another cliche, but it honestly is true. Think back to when you were a kid and how terrifying the monsters under your bed were; the real terror under your bed was that fear of the unknown. Arm yourself with information because it can put you into a realistic and positive mindset when addressing your or your loved one’s addiction.
Consider all of the different treatment options that are offered; everyone’s addiction and recovery process is unique. As previously mentioned, many addictions co-occur with mental illnesses, so look for treatment centers that offer comprehensive assessments and methods like The Aviary Center does. We offer detoxification programs, and both inpatient residential and intensive outpatient (IOP) programs. A client might begin in a residential program and then transition to an IOP, or begin at an IOP; it all depends on what the doctor and the client believe is best for them.
When considering addiction treatment facilities, keep an eye out for those with programs that advocate for recovery specific to your situation. For example, The Aviary Center has a specialized College and Young Adult Residential Treatment. Similarly, the family members and loved ones of clients should have support and resources that have their best interest in mind. The Aviary’s Family Wellness Program offers an 8-week curriculum designed to teach families the importance of creating environments that will encourage the client’s recovery. This program also creates a safe space for loved ones that is “based on kindness and compassion for every member of the family, helping everyone become what they want to be.”
Finally, it is essential to remember that “addiction is not a choice: it is a chronic brain disease.” Acknowledging addiction for what it is can be difficult. The societal stigmas attached to addiction can make it feel defeating or unmanageable. Seeking out support as you stand alongside your recovering loved one is not a sign of defeat but a sign of solidarity.