What are Some Common Types of Addict Behavior?
Did you know that over 20 million people in the United States battle substance addiction? That’s roughly the same number of people who are diagnosed with diabetes.
These statistics are alarming, but they may not have much of an impact on your daily life. Unless, that is, you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction.
If you have a friend or loved one who has begun behaving erratically, you may suspect that their drug or alcohol use is spiraling out of control. Addicts go to great lengths to conceal the extent of their drug use. However, if you know what to look for, you can spot addict behavior.
Read on to learn about some common behaviors that may indicate a problem.
Five Common Addict Behaviors
Of course, every individual is different; addict behavior isn’t one-size-fits-all. It’s entirely possible that your friend isn’t exhibiting any of these behaviors. On the other side of the coin, there are many other explanations besides drug use that may account for financial difficulties or social isolation.
It’s understandable that you want to see your loved one get help, but be careful not to jump to conclusions.
A Pattern of Lying About their Use
People who have a healthy relationship with alcohol, or who take prescription pain medication for a valid physical reason, don’t have any reason to lie about their behavior. So if you catch someone in a lie about drugs or alcohol, you may want to look twice.
Alcoholics sometimes hide bottles of liquor or take steps to hide the empties — placing them in the neighbor’s recycling bin or smuggling them out of the house to dispose of elsewhere. They may lie about what time they start drinking each day, or may invent a stomach bug, cold, or flu to hide hangover symptoms.
Drug addicts and alcoholics alike will claim that they’re not under the influence when they are. Lying about their whereabouts is also common. So are fibs related to financial matters — an addict may lie to get a loan from her parents, or say she’s paid the utility bill when in fact that money was spent on drugs.
Engaging in Risky Behavior or Exhibiting Poor Judgment
Impaired thinking, poor judgment, and impulsive behavior are all classic hallmarks of drug and alcohol use. That’s part of why there is one alcohol-related traffic fatality every 50 minutes in the United States.
Committing crimes while under the influence, and/or committing crimes to obtain the money for drugs or alcohol, is another example of poor judgment that is common to addicts.
Still other addicts put themselves in a risky (albeit legal) situation. This could mean going home from the bar with a stranger, traveling to a bad neighborhood to score, or engaging in unsafe sexual behavior.
One of the behaviors common to many substance-addicted people is the inability to plan for the future, or a lack of concern for consequences. They may spend their share of the rent money on drugs and decide to worry about paying the landlord next week. Skipping classes, calling in sick to work, dealing with an angry or disappointed spouse, paying the bills — all of these, to an addict, are cans to kick down the road and deal with later.
Of course, by the time “tomorrow” arrives, the addict will be concerned only with getting her next fix of drugs or taking another drink.
Skipping work or even getting fired from one’s job, combined with the cost of acquiring alcohol or drugs, can very quickly lead to financial problems. As we touched on earlier, addicts often lie about money. Goals, plans, and dreams fall by the wayside as all available cash goes to support the addiction.
It’s not at all unusual for an addict to go into debt, turn to crime, or lie about what they’re spending money on. Many aspects of addict behavior boil down to financial issues.
Social Isolation or Changes in Social Behavior
Weaving a web of lies takes a lot of emotional energy. So it’s no surprise that many addicts, sooner or later, stop being deceitful — not by coming clean, but by withdrawing from their social circles.
Addicts sometimes surround themselves with new friends — friends they don’t have to lie to, friends who also engage in drug use. In other cases, the drugs become more important than any interpersonal relationships. The addicted person would rather sit at home alone and get high than go through the charade of acting sober to spend time with friends.
If your loved one is suddenly spending time with a new group of buddies, or repeatedly declines invitations to social events, there may be cause for concern.
How To Help a Friend or Loved One with Addiction
So what can you do, if you suspect that someone close to you is addicted to drugs or alcohol? The first step is to talk to them about your concern, but be aware that they will most likely lie, deny, or otherwise try to hide their habits.
If the person in question is dependent on your for support — whether financial or otherwise — you can withdraw that support. It’s important to learn about codependency, and how it can enable the alcoholic or drug addict.
It may not be what you want to hear, but in many cases, there isn’t much you can do, at least not until the addict decides to get help. In that instance, you can support them with information about detox and rehab. You can also pledge to be supportive through the process of gaining sobriety and staying clean.
If you live in the Elgin, IL area, contact us for information about the programs we offer. It’s confidential and there is no obligation. We can help you recognize addict behavior and offer solutions for treatment.