Signs You’re Developing an Addiction & Why Prevention is Key
Have you or a loved one been feeling like your life seems chaotic? Have you or someone close to you noticed you’ve been using alcohol or other substances to numb any pain too frequently? Do you or someone you know use substances in secret and/or to excess?
The first step towards getting help for you or someone close to you is recognizing and understanding the signs of addiction, which have behavioural, physical, and psychological aspects.
There is no guaranteed way to prevent someone from abusing drugs and alcohol, however, there are things we can do to try and prevent an addiction from forming.
Let’s destigmatize addiction and openly talk about how addictions develop. Only then can we truly understand what those close to us are going through.
If an addiction has developed, and you or someone close to you wishes to seek help, hypnotherapy may be a healing tool in your arsenal.
Note: acknowledging there is an issue is the very first step towards help, and recovery. With this in mind, I’d like to say thank you for taking the time to read the signs, and if you resonate with any of this article, know you are not alone.
How Addictions Impact Those Around Us
- Does your family trust you? Has it changed due to using any substances?
- Are there fights within the family due to substance use?
- Is there avoidance within the family when using? Do they avoid you, or you them?
- Any violence within the family because of the substance use?
- How has substance use harmed your friendships?
- Has anyone suggested cutting down on substance use?
- Do your friends feel embarrassed by anything you’ve done?
- Any arguments among friends about substance use?
- Any broken promises?
- Do your friends trust you, or you them?
- Have you lost friends due to substance use?
Arguments among those who live with addiction may be a regular occurrence with an addict blaming everyone and everything else other than themselves when things have gone wrong. Mistaken for interfering or deliberately trying to cause difficulties, genuine concern can be hard to express. Paranoia is an effect of addiction, which can lead an addict to make loved ones feel guilty or ashamed when they’ve done nothing wrong.
When it comes to being a parent with an addiction, often we see our children being put on the backburner, dragged into sticky situations, and/or left to take care of themselves. Arguments between parents over addiction can be traumatic to any children involved. It can be scary for the children, the surrounding family and even the addict themselves.
Addiction is not cheap. Funding the substances can cause financial responsibilities to become neglected. With unpaid bills, leading to debt and possibly losing your place of residence. Money that should be spent on essentials like food can be spent on these substances, which can lead to family going with very little or without. It can lead to criminal activity, doing anything to obtain enough money to keep the habit going. It can also lead to possibly living in your car or even on the streets. This brings in the stigma over homelessness and addiction.
Once addicted, friends and family can be concerned about your health and well-being. The decline in your mental and physical health can cause others worry and distress. Your partner or close friend(s) may prioritize or be sucked into prioritizing your needs ahead of theirs, resulting in their suffering mental and physical health. Being worried about someone with an addiction with their children in tow, can mean someone is being there just for the sake of the children.
Friends and family may do everything they can to help, but everyone has limits. Once these limits are reached, they may need to let go, for their own health and safety, especially if criminal activity is involved. If it gets to this place, an addict may feel extremely helpless continuing to beg for help, including trying to use guilt, to obtain their substance to continue using, so they don’t become sick.
We hope as an addict they will reach for help in stopping their substance use and heal their addiction. We can be supportive when the time is right and with genuine open arms.
Behavioural Signs of Addiction Worth Noting
The behavioural signs are what involves someone’s outward interactions with the world, with the physical signs relating to the body’s expression of side effects due to the occurrence of substances in the system.
Behavioural signs are (including but not limited to):
Obsessive thoughts and actions:
Work, family, or school become sidelined while the main priorities of life become obtaining and using the substance.
Even though the substance abuse causes physical and mental pain to the individual and those around them, the one struggling with the substance(s) continues using.
Even when wanting to stop or reduce the substance use, the individual is unable to do so.
Denial of Addiction, or Hiding Substance Use:
After being confronted, the individual struggling with the addiction will talk down or deny their substance use. To avoid explaining themselves to others, they may use them in secret.
Physical & Psychological Signs of Addiction
The physical signs of addiction may show as side effects of use, during an overdose, or result of withdrawal. It might be difficult to pinpoint the cause of the physical signs, but the severe effects need immediate medical treatment. Withdrawal symptoms result from the body adjusting to the absence of familiar measures of a substance, though natural, it can be dangerous.
General physical signs:
- Enlarged or small pupils
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Bloodshot eyes
- Unusual body odors
- Poor physical coordination
- Looking unkempt
- Slurred speech
Signs of an overdose:
- Drowsiness or trouble walking
- Aggression or violent behaviour
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
- Shakiness, trembling, and jumpiness
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Night sweats
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Headaches and fever
- Confusion and hallucinations
- Lack of motivation
- Irritability or angry outburst
- Changes in personality or attitude
- Emotional and mental withdrawing from people
- Sudden mood swings
- Unexplained paranoia
Family members and those close to the individual are often important participants in helping someone get help. There may be obstacles to lending help, like denial of a problem as a coping mechanism, witnessing the signs and symptoms of addiction can motivate a concerned loved one to action. When someone knows the substance of abuse, they can strengthen their understanding of what it is and learn further ways they can help their loved one.
Tips for Prevention
1. Understanding how addiction develops. Typically it starts by:
- Using addictive substances (illicit or prescribed) for recreational purposes
- Seeking intoxication with each use
- Abuse of prescription medication
2. Avoid Peer Pressure and Temptation. If you can avoid friends or family members that (may) pressure you to use you can develop healthy friendships and relationships with others. If you surround yourself with people who abuse substances, you are most likely to as well. By developing a good way to say no, prepare an excuse or plan ahead of time you can keep from giving into the dreaded peer pressure.
3. Seek mental illness help. A root cause of substance abuse has been linked to mental illness and trauma. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder you should seek professional help from a licensed therapist or counselor and hypnotherapist. They can help with healthy coping skills to relieve symptoms without turning toward risky substances.
4. Look at the risks. Have a look into your family history of mental illness and addiction, studies have shown that this kind of modeled behaviour or coping can run in the family, which gives us hope for prevention. The more you are aware of your biological, environmental, and physical risks the more likely you can overcome them.
5. Keep your life balanced. When life becomes overwhelming, feels empty, or just not working, people often turn to substances to numb the pain. By practicing stress management skills, and finding replacement behaviours that serve the same benefit you can overcome life’s little hiccups, helping you live healthy and balanced.
To help you focus on what you want in life, develop some easily obtainable goals and dreams for your future. Some ideas can include working toward a job or career, learning a new skill like cooking, sewing or a new language, taking up a new hobby or activity like collecting stamps, playing an instrument, bowling, or skating for example. This will help shift your focus away from substances, which get in the way and hold you back from achieving these goals.
How Hypnotherapy Helps with Addiction Prevention and Treatment
Hypnotherapy can help to aid prevention of addiction by dealing with root causes, such as mental illnesses, past traumas, mindset and more.
If an addiction is already underway and the individual with the addiction wishes to seek help, hypnotherapy is a valuable tool for the healing arsenal.
While in the hypnotic trance, we know that the mind is open to suggestion, be more imaginative, open to fantasy, and sometimes, more able to access repressed memories.
Being in this suggestible state can help develop another perspective on an individual’s addictive behaviours. What to the waking mind seems impossible—quitting a substance or behaviour central to the individual’s existence—can, through the subconscious mind, appear achievable and desirable.
Keep in mind, hypnotherapy is by no means an instant fix or magic. It requires work within the conscious and subconscious mind and is best used as a tool to unlock your potential through the power of suggestion. These issues are a challenge and complex for the individual and therapist and may not work for everyone.
At Healing Soul Hypnosis, I am here to help you and your loved ones. Addiction is painful and I can help you discover the tools you need to alleviate the pain. In case you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact me. If hypnotherapy feels like a good fit for your healing toolbox, I’m here to support you.
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