Every addict is unique, but there are observable traits that such individuals tend to share. Being aware of the common symptoms and behavior of addiction can be helpful because it makes it possible to indentify people who may have addictions. It also makes it easier for the individual themselves to determine if they have a problem, which may be something they are ignoring because of denial. There are many types of addiction, but there are certain commonalities that tend to link them all.
The word addiction tends to be overused and this has meant that it has lost some of its meaning. In common speech people will use this term just to describe liking something a lot. Even among the experts there can be disagreement about exactly what is mean by addiction.
One way to describe addiction is as a physical and psychological dependence upon a mind-altering substance. This definition excludes many types of behavior such as gambling and other compulsive behaviors. A more inclusive definition of addiction describes it as a compulsion and dependence that can occur in relation to any substance or behavior.
To say that an individual is psychologically dependent means that they experience cravings. It also means that even the idea of not using the substance, or engaging in the behavior, will cause them discomfort. They now feel that they need this crutch to make it through the day. It may be difficult to imagine life without it. The individual with devote much of their time to thinking about the addictive substance. They may be in complete denial as to the extent by which this behavior is damaging their life.
Physical dependence only occurs with alcohol and drug addiction. The body changes in response to the persistent use of these substances. Tolerance increases and if the level of the substance falls too low in the body the individual will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. In some instances these symptoms can be so severe that they prove fatal. Even people who are using prescription medication can develop physical dependence if they use the drug for long enough, and at a high enough dose.
It seems that every year there are new forms of addiction mentioned in the media. Some of the most common types include addiction to:
* Illegal drugs
* Prescription drugs
* Membership of cults
* Chocolate and sugar
* Internet and TV
* Sex and pornography
* Anorexia and bulimia
It is a widely held belief that addiction is more likely to occur with certain personality types. While it is not an exact science there does seem to be certain characteristics that addicts tend to share. The addictive personality includes such traits as:
* High degree of tolerance for criminal behavior
* Prone to act impulsively
* Periods of depression
* Antisocial behavior
* History of attention seeking
* Low self-esteem and confidence
* An admiration for rebellious behavior
* Feels like an outsider
* Insecurity in relationships
* They find it hard to wait for rewards
Those who are addicted to substances or behavior may exhibit any of the following symptoms:
* Secretiveness and attempts to hide the extent of their addiction
* They can begin to lose interest in activities they previously liked
* Increasingly focused on the substance or behavior
* Lying and other unethical behavior
* Financial problems
* Work problems
* Family problems
* Loss of interest in personal hygiene and grooming
* Unexplained disappearances
* Mood swings
* Suicidal thoughts
Those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs can also exhibit the following common symptoms:
* Slurred speech
* Inability to concentrate
* Blackouts and other types of memory loss
* Manic behavior
* Excessive talking
* Illogical thinking
* Withdrawal symptoms
* Frequently ill from the night before
* Accident proneness and clumsiness
* Easily agitated
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