Drugs and Alcohol Addiction Behaviors / Traits
Regardless of the type of alcohol or drug dependent person, addiction or dependence is characterized by professional standards according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) (1994). To sum up, the DSM-IV identifies an addict as having three or more of the following “symptoms” within a year’s time period:
Mental thoughts focused on the substance (alcohol or drugs) even when not using.
Withdrawal from society, friends, loved ones, normal activities – to focus on continued substance use.
Using more than expected
Substance abuse even though negative consequences directly result from the abuse (at any level: physical, emotional, social, work-related, etc.)
Attempts to stop or “control” use and withdrawal symptoms develop (shakes, hallucinations, cravings, etc.)
Tolerance levels can change; i.e. it takes more and more to get and sustain a drunk or high state
Drugs and Alcohol Addiction Help
Similar to the key to getting help for co-dependency, the key to getting help for drug and alcohol addiction is first in acknowledging the problem, then in getting help. Check out library books on co-dependency and to find helpful resources. Search the Yellow Pages, online search engines, 12-Step Groups listed in community calendars, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics (or the specific drug name like “Cocaine”) Anonymous, etc.
Another top addiction is gambling. In fact, studies including research by the National Gambling Impact Commission show that gambling nationwide affects a minimum of 2.5 million people, over 1 percent of the population. In targeted gambling areas like Las Vegas, over 5 percent of the people are expected to end up having some sort of gambling problems. To help put those figures into perspective, gambling problems occur twice as often as cancer and twice as often as cocaine addiction. That’s a LOT of impact.
And young people battle gambling addiction more than adults. Here are the latest prevalence rates as reported by the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, the following are the prevalence rates:
16-24 year old males 4%
11-18 year old males 4-7%
National average, all ages 1.2%
How can you tell if someone is addicted to gambling? Similar to the characteristics noted for other top addictions, the main ones to look out for with gambling follow.
Signs of a Gambling Addiction
Repeated attempts to stop gambling.
Serious financial problems
Has unrealistic view of what “life” and “the world” owes you
Preoccupation with gambling, lying about it and denying addiction
Help for Gambling Addiction
Help is unfortunately often not sought until people hit “rock bottom” or pretty much lose about all they own, owe nearly anyone and about everyone they know (and many don’t). Once reality sets in and denial isn’t an issue any longer (and even in some cases where it’s borderline) a nationwide 12-Step program is available, Gamblers Anonymous. Other help can come from a combination of psychotherapist and / or counselor who helps focus on internal emotional issues, group therapy to interact with fellow addicts in recovery, and inpatient, residential or outpatient care, for short-term and long-term recovery options. You can seek recommendations from your healthcare providers or local hospitals.
Even the Internet can be addicting! Although Internet Addiction is not yet an official disorder, obsessive Internet use is a real problem for some today.
Signs of “Internet Addiction”
Some signs of trouble are:
- Using the Internet more and more, while going out into the real world less and less.
Checking email too frequently during the day – every day.
Going online every day, rarely taking a day off.
Sneaking online to sites that you shouldn’t visit.
Others say that you are indeed online too much.
Sneaking online and checking email when you should be doing other things like working. Arriving before work, staying after work, skipping lunch, avoiding meetings, avoiding co-workers – to use the Internet.
But there are ways to overcome the trouble spots. Similar to other addiction recovery, realizing there is a problem is the starting point. Facing “why” the escape from the real world is necessary is next. Then decreasing online activity and replacing it with healthier activities can help the person get back to normal.
More Help for Internet Addicts
Ways to help deal with Internet over-use are to monitor and log use, then set goals for daily activity in its place and follow up with more monitoring and strategic planning. Being logging “when” you go online and “why” and “where.” Then over time, cut back usage by replacing alternative resources for your attention.
For example, instead of emailing people all day long, grab the phone and call others. Instead of playing games on Yahoo all night, allow yourself one hour and play solitaire or visit with a neighbor or friend and play a board game like chess. And instead of reading ebooks and forum posts for hours on end, grab some nonfiction self-improvement books, daily newspapers or popular magazines and learn more about the industries in your work environment or about nonprofits of interest and how you can join in their causes. Take charge and keep your mind stimulated and yourself active in the real world.
A counselor recommended by a healthcare provider may be about to help with this process, too. In this type of addiction, getting online help is probably not a good idea, since the goal is to spend LESS time online. So seek help from those referred by your local healthcare providers for starters. Monitoring online activity, what triggers jumping online each time, and replacing it with more appropriate, healthier activity is the key to recovery.