Overcoming Addiction: 7 Characteristics of Addiction to Be Aware Of

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If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re concerned about either yourself or your loved one. And you’re not alone: over 21.5 million people in the United States alone struggle with some kind of addiction. 

The characteristics of addiction along with the emotional and physical symptoms make overcoming addiction difficult. Only one-third of people who initially get sober for less than a year will stay sober without relapse.

But, if addicts can manage to stay sober for over a year, their chance at long-term success is significantly high. So what can you do to identify addict behavior and use that understanding to help your loved one overcome this disease? 

We’re going to answer that question in this article by looking at 8 of the most common addict characteristics. 

1. Addiction Is a Physical and a Mental Disease

Addiction is a disease. It physically changes how the brain and body processes substances, information, and emotions.

This can lead to a number of key physical and behavioral signs: 

Understanding these physical and mental symptoms of addiction can help you identify whether they’re struggling with substance abuse. It can also help you pinpoint how they’re doing during their recovery.

If they begin speaking with you about their cravings or their intense mood swings, you may be able to encourage them to go to a support group or see a therapist to help them continue with their success.

Or, for another example, let’s say you notice that their withdrawal symptoms are getting intense and making them want to use again. You can work to help those symptoms by making them healthy meals, bringing them calming tea, encouraging them to try massage/mediation, etc.

Whatever you can do to alleviate these rough physical symptoms will help the addict overcome their addiction.

2. Many Addicts Are In Denial

Addicts are often not aware of the severity of their situation, or they’re in denial about their position. Addicts could be one overdose away from death and still insist they’re fine. They could relapse and make excuses or try and convince you (and themselves) that it’s OK.

It’s your job to remind them and tell them that it’s not OK. You can be a support system in their life without enabling their behavior.

Help them see and understand the severity of their situation. Tell them they have a problem. Don’t enable them by saying relapse or using is OK. Remind them that they can get back on the right track and you’ll be there for them.

You might have to push them or use the law to get them into a rehab program if they refuse to get help. Learn more about your options of getting your loved one in a treatment program even if they resist.

3. Addicts Will Try to Manipulate You

Similar to the above point, addicts are master manipulators. They manipulate their situation to convince themselves and others that they’re fine.  

Don’t fall for it. 

While it’s easy to want to believe that they’re OK, you wouldn’t be reading this article if you weren’t concerned. Help addicts overcome their own roadblocks by providing support and being a strong friend/family member that won’t accept their lies.

4. Addicts Have Certain Triggers

Understand what triggers your loved one to want to use.

Is it work stress? Relationship issues? Going out to places where using is common, like concerts or bars? What about certain friends that also use?

If you know what triggers your loved one, you can help them avoid those triggers as they learn to deal with the issues that push them to use.

5. Addicts Take Huge Risks

A common addict behavior is a risky lifestyle. This could be spending way too much money on a whim, having unprotected sex, using dirty needles, stealing to fuel their addiction, etc.

If you notice these behaviors, do what you can to mitigate them. Be a voice of reason to them, and talk them down from impulsive decisions.

6. Bad Influences

Have you noticed that your loved one is hanging out with a new crowd? Are these new friends or social groups filled with other addicts or people who have a bad influence on your friend?

Do what you can to convince your friend to spend less time with those people. They’re going to be a trigger, like we talking about earlier in the article. Even being around these people after your friend gets clean and sober may trigger them to want to use again.

Keep your friend busy with better influences. Take them out to healthy and safe activities, do things they enjoy, and focus on their recovery instead of reverting back to their old ways.

7. Financial Problems

Addicts often find themselves in financial trouble because of a combination of reckless spending, struggling to maintain steady work, and fueling their addiction by buying alcohol and drugs. If you see your friend struggling with money along with other addict behaviors, that’s a sign they’re still struggling.

That being said, you can help them overcome addiction by encouraging them to get sober and setting up a feasible budget for them to follow. If they continually ask you for money without showing that they’re working on their addiction, don’t give it to them. 

This enables their behavior and won’t help them overcome addiction in the long run. Help them organize their finances and consider setting them up with a therapist, a financial planner, a support group, or a treatment program instead.

Characteristics of Addiction: Is Your Loved One an Addict?

These are just 7 of the most common characteristics of addiction that you can actually use to your advantage to help your loved one overcome their problem. There’s no surefire method to getting clean and sober, but looking for these signs and following this advice can definitely help.

Want some more tips on overcoming addiction? Check out this article on motivational ideas to keep you and your loved one on track.