It seems as though if someone is an alcoholic or drug addict it becomes pretty clear, pretty fast what the problem is for them in their life. It does not take much inquiry or assessment to understand that substances are controlling their life. Obsession and compulsion take over from reason and logic. A person finds themselves once again drunk or high and wondering “how did I do this again?”
What if it is not so clear? What if addiction has gone underground, as it were? Perhaps the alcoholic or addict is no longer drinking or using however, they rage at the slightest inconvenience. What if that person chooses all-you-can-eat over traditional restaurants more times than not? What if that person is always helping others, willing to give abundance of time, energy and effort to others, yet their car, house and family are in a state of disarray?
There are so many signs of addiction that have nothing to do with substances but are just as powerful and destructive. Eating disorders, co-dependency, sex and gambling are just a few where people actual die in the pursuit of their dysfunctional “passions.”
So how do you know when it is too much?
Here are a Seven Sneaky Signs of an Addiction Problem:
1) Lying – Not the big, “I don’t know what you are talking about, I was NOT at the casino last night” type lies. I am talking about the “little white lies” you know the ones that don’t hurt others (also a lie). Telling a friend that you don’t feel well so that you can stay home to play online slots. Explaining that you think you have food poisoning when co-workers ask why you just threw up lunch. Telling that person that you were just driving by so you thought you would drop in when you had been cyber stalking them for hours waiting for them to get home.
2) Making Excuses – Very much in the same vein as lying except that it is you to whom you are lying. “They are going through a rough time and need me to be there for them,” a co-dependent would say. Seeing your favorite band from the 70s or 80’s that you haven’t listened to in 30 years at a local casino (unless you just go to the concert and don’t have a gambling problem). Someone with an eating disorder might think that the food just tasted so good they could not stop and then were too uncomfortable after eating too much and had to “get rid of it.” My personal favorite excuse from my own distant past: “I just need to go for a walk in the park” then I would drive across town to the park most known for cruising and sex after dark.
3) Repeated Illness – It doesn’t matter whether you are using substances or behaviors, addiction will lower your immune system. I have seen it over and over with people whom I have worked with that they get that summer cold two or three times when most never get it. It is caused from unhealthy patterns of behavior that take over the body’s immune mechanisms and override the ability to stay physically healthy when you are emotionally, mentally and behaviorally sick.
4) Sour Stomach – Remorse causes this. “I feel sick to my stomach” you might hear someone who has just acted out say. Nausea, GERD, abdominal pain are all focused around the chakra connected to Power and Will. When you are acting out on self-will in opposition to the Universe’s Will for your life this is where you will feel your symptoms. Additionally, when you give over your power to baser instincts and additions it is your Power center that is affected.
5) Lump in the throat – This is also connected to your chakras, specifically your throat chakra or you Expression. The lump represents a block to true expression. This feeling can be related to the feeling of guilt and shame. Not wanting to speak up or out about how you are feeling and what you are doing and knowing that you just cannot stop the behavior.
6) Belligerent justification – This is generally at the beginning of such behaviors or at least is a very adolescent response. Not in natal years but in behavioral years. “Because I wanna!,” “Because I can!,” Because there is a child at the helm of your behavior is the true reason. Secret: If you see this behavior in yourself, stop. If you see this behavior in someone else, don’t immediately try and control them. This will be as successful as dealing with a defiant pre-teen. Show love and compassion and set your boundaries.
7) Ambivalence – This perhaps is the most frightening of all of the behaviors you could exhibit in your addiction. A lack of care for yourself or others is a very dangerous sign and should be carefully watched. Most often, you do care and you want someone else to care too. Ambivalence comes from a profound feeling of hopelessness, desperation and despair that naturally comes with addictions of all shapes and sizes. These three feelings are universal for truly addicted people. Get help if you find yourself saying “I don’t care.”
The most important thing to know if you think you have a problem with addiction or behaviors that look like addiction is that you are NOT alone. There are more resources today than ever to help a myriad of problems. At the time of writing this blog, there were 34 Twelve-Step programs listed on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_twelve-step_groups). Besides Twelve-Step groups there are a plethora of community organizations specifically chartered to help you.
There is a line from the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous that says: “We want to know what you want to do about your problem and how we can help.” This is the most powerful statement to make a change. There are so many resources at your disposal and people that are just wanting and waiting to help you the way they were helped BUT the whole process hinges on YOU. What do YOU want?
Best and Blessed,