Common Traits of Addiction
Addicts can be baffling, frustrating and their behavior can cause ill feelings. The power of addictive substances is so strong that it can completely alter their behavior. Their actions and words are not dictated by their love for you but rather their need for more drugs. While it can be hard to understand their behavior, it is also hard to not let their behavior change the way you feel about them. Without understanding the erratic, abusive and criminal behavior associated with addiction, the mystery may continue on for years without seeing the truth.
While there are some, very few addicts can be actively using and function in day to day life through work or in society alone. Almost no one can succeed long term in the grips of addiction. The stress will begin to show up in one or two areas of life and progress to all other areas. These feelings trickle over onto wives, children, siblings, and parents. These are the individuals that may see the worst of the addiction. Co-workers and friends may believe things are fine for a while longer.
When someone you love is an addict, it can be hard to see through to the truth. Many family members and friends struggle with coming to accept the reality of an addict. It can become increasingly difficult to deal with the personality and moral changes of your loved one.
That is why we have compiled this list to help you differentiate the truth from fantasy. Once you can recognize these behaviors you can begin seeking the truth for yourself in order to help your loved one.
Common Traits of an Addict
1. They Lie
Addicts have to tell lies in order to hide their addiction. They mislead us into this false truth not because they do not love us but because they know no other way to continue their addiction. They lie about where they have been and what they have been doing to hide their life of drugs and alcohol. Often times they come up with elaborate lies that are just so detailed they have to be true. The more their desire for drugs and alcohol increases they more they feel the need to lie.
When you have a loved one who has been a trusted person for years and they begin to lie to you it can be hard to set their past aside. Family and friends tend to believe the skillful lies for years. But all this time, your loved one is slowly destroying themselves.
If you’ve loved one’s behavior changes rapidly and the explanations do not seem to add up, you need to follow your gut. If what your loved one is telling you doesn’t seem to make complete sense, then you are probably being lied to. While this may be a difficult pill to swallow, active addiction can change a once brutally honest person into the most skilled liar.
While you may have no way of check up on their stories like they lost their wallet and need $20 for gas or their check didn’t go through this week for some reason and they need to borrow $100 just until Monday, the lies will become more elaborate. As the lies begin to pile up, their lives will become more and more chaotic but likely they will hide it all with still more lies
Unless the other family members and close friends are addicts as well, they will want that person to be healthy and happy. Family and friends will try to encourage good decisions, but it is likely that the addict is on a destructive path. The allure of addictive drugs such as opiates and alcohol is so intense that the addict will feel the necessity of the drugs to live and function normally. In order to not succumb to the painful sickness of withdrawal or to get through another day, addicts will manipulate those who love them the most.
Many drugs including alcohol can cause a once loving and honest family member to manipulate everyone they love in order to convince them to let them continue the use of drugs.
Family and friends out of love and concern will continue to try to convince the addict to go to detox and rehab in order to get away from these deadly substances but of course, the addict always has the same response.
“I have it under control”
“I can stop any time I want to”
“This is your fault”
“If you had my life you’d use drugs too”
“You’ve never understood me”
“If you loved me, you’d let me be”
The excuses go on and on.
Some of the most painful types of manipulation occur between couples whether married or dating. The addict will make promises to stop using and to go to meetings and to stop seeing “those” people. The significant other will want to believe the promises so badly that they let them back into the home or back down on their pressure. Unfortunately, as soon as the heat is off the addict will soon return to well-known stages of a spree. Then all promises are off.
An addict may make late nights calls or texts confessing their love and begging to see their loved ones one more time only to beg for money for food or some other excuse and then once again they are gone. The money will, of course, go to drugs and it’s all manipulation.
This type of manipulation can go on for years until there is nothing less and everyone is hurt including children. The sad truth is that while the addict is in active addiction, these promises cannot be believed. It is simply a manipulation tactic.
3. Addicts are likely to be engaged in criminal activities.
While this isn’t the case for every addict, it is typical behavior for an addict who has developed a severe addiction over a period of time. Eventually, the money does run out. Your loved one will have pawned or sold everything of value and perhaps that will include some of your things. They may owe you and many others money. There are no more assets of value, but the drugs and alcohol must still be a priority.
At this point in the timeline, many addicts will begin to commit crimes. While selling or making drugs are one crime common crime, burglary, robbery, credit card theft, and shoplifting are more common. An employee may still items from their place of business only to pawn or sell the items. Many addicts will most likely steal items from the homes of family and friends.
When a person is addicted to prescription drugs, the crimes may be a little different such as doctor shopping or forged prescriptions.
And of course, there is driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Some addicts may experience complete personality changes resulting in paranoia or aggress that may result in assault or domestic violence charges.
Drug use may also result in a complete depletion of self-respect in that addicts may resort to prostitution and other degrading activities to allow them to get their next fix.
4. An addict will shift the blame.
Irresponsibility goes hand in hand with addiction. While your loved one may have previously been a very responsible person, addiction steals this quality. And of course, the blame is never on them. If the addict were to be fired from their job, they will blame their boss for treating them unfairly. If there is a car accident, it was the other person’s fault.
Family and friends will cater to these shifts in blame and care for the children and other responsibilities to prevent further damage. However, even if the addict wants to stop using, they will instead draw closer to their drug dealer and other addicts in order to continue to find their fix. In order for the addict to seek a life away from drugs, a complete psychic change must occur through rehabilitation and aftercare through NA or AA.
5. An addict is likely to become abusive.
Unfortunately, the blame previously mentioned can take a further turn for the worse in the form of violence or abuse. With the delusional thinking addicts tend to become accustomed to, he/she may begin to believe that those around him/her are threatening, dangerous or malicious. As the blame continues to shift to those closest to him, the addict may become physically, mentally or emotionally abusive.
Typically, the spouse of the addict bears the blame and the abuse. It can be hard to do anything right in the eyes of an addict. They are typically not supportive at this point and may direct anger and blame at the spouse in order to escape this deceptive thinking. The addict will place the blame on the spouse in an attempt to avoid the real problem addressing the addiction. It is a very common occurrence that the spouse will endure this abusive behavior for years before any solutions will occur.
The physical abuse is typically reserved for loved ones who cannot or will not fight back against the addict such as wives, children and the elderly.
It does not matter what the substance is that the person is addicted to. The need to obtain and use their drug of choice is not a want but rather a compulsion. It is were not more powerful than the addict would have a choice in the matter and would therefore not be addicted. The addict would choose to stop using and fix their lives.
There is Still Hope
While this is a tragic situation, there is still hope. Rehabilitation for addicts and recovery is still an option. When a person successfully completes a reputable rehabilitation program such as those offered at Addiction Alternatives, the addict can recover. When an addict undergoes such treatment, the program will teach the adduct to overcome his/her NEED for drugs or alcohol. It is possible to get your loved one back. It is possible to recover and return to life successfully without the return to drugs and alcohol.
Not every program focuses on bringing about the desired changes. There are many programs that have a sole focus of detoxing patients rather than also teaching them about their addiction and ways to cope with the feelings that resulted in their drug abuse originally.
Recovery is not an overnight treatment. It takes time for an addict to fully recover. Sobriety is not a short-term solution to the permanent removal of addiction. After an addict completes rehabilitation, the addict will need to attend meetings in order to stay ahead of their addiction as well as work with a sponsor.
Help for the Family of an Addict
Nar-Anon family groups are available for those who know or have known a feeling of desperation concerning the problem of someone very near to you. The members of these groups have all traveled this road and have found the answer with serenity and peace of mind.
When family members attend these meetings, they find that they are no longer along but rather among friends who can understand what you are going through. There is an understanding of anonymity in these meetings. These meetings help to ensure new families and returning family members that no situation is too difficult, and no unhappiness is too great to overcome.
The program of Nar-Anon is not a religious group but rather a 12-step fellowship to bring healing and understanding to those affected by addiction through a loved one. We urge family members to attend these meetings to understand and discuss the above behaviors to no longer enable your loved ones and to heal.
These programs allow family members to release the addicts with love and grace while still understanding the addicts also need recovery themselves.
Nar-Anon helps family members and loved ones to understand the disease of addiction and the realization of the powerlessness of the disease. When family members are ready to do something useful and constructive themselves, only then can you be of help to your addict loved ones.