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Living with an Addicted PersonLiving with an addicted person is challenging to say the least. Perhaps the most hurtful thing about addiction is the strain it puts on relationships. Addicted people often engage in manipulative or harmful behaviour toward their partners, sometimes without even realising it. They may have co-dependency or boundary issues, and may even make their loved ones feel responsible for their actions. If you are living with an addict, it is urgent not only to get them into treatment, but to get the support you need to heal and learn how to appropriately deal with addiction. With effective treatment, not only can an addicted person manage their addiction, but recovery can become a positive and rewarding part of their life!
How do I Know if my Loved One is Addicted?Addiction results from a combination of causes. Risk factors include:
- Genetic makeup or a family history of addiction
- Social environment
- Use of addictive substances, especially at an early age
- Co-occurring mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression or PTSD
- Increase in Use Over Time – This is a result of tolerance-building – the longer a person abuses a substance, the greater the amount they will need in order to feel the desired effects.
- Lying and Secretive Behaviour – Addicts often lie in an attempt to hide their problem, creating varied stories and excuses to deflect attention from themselves.
- Mood Swings – Erratic changes in behaviour are common indicators of substance abuse – does your loved one’s mood often change dramatically in a short period of time?
- Change in Spending Habits – Unexplained financial trouble and careless spending habits are all signs of addiction.
- Disappearing Money or Valuable Objects – It costs a lot to finance an addiction. This leads some people to steal in order to support their habit.
- Unexplained Sickness – Addicts often feign being sick as an excuse to skip out on work or social engagements, or to explain away their changed demeanour or appearance.
- Pre-Drinking – Alcohol-addicted people will often consume alcohol before going out to social events so they appear to drink the same amount as everyone else, when in fact they have had far more.
- Strange Sleeping Patterns – Different substances cause different changes in sleeping patterns – stimulants cause long periods of alertness and sleeplessness, while depressants cause untimely napping or very heavy sleeping.
- Paranoia – Many substances cause paranoia during use, but frequent use can lead to sustained changes in personality, delusions and even psychosis.
Why is Addiction so Hard to Overcome?Though it may seem otherwise, addiction is not a choice or the result of a lack of willpower. Addicted people have a lack of the brain chemical dopamine, which produces feelings of pleasure and reward. Many people are born with this deficiency, genetically predisposing them to addiction. Symptoms of dopamine deficiency are:
- Extreme boredom
- Lack of meaning