A simple explanation of alcoholism and addiction:
There are 3 certain characteristics that can be assumed for someone that is addicted or severely dependent.
1) When someone starts drinking or using, are they able to stop at a certain point or do they appear to have lost the ‘off button’? Have they lost this ability to control just how much they consume?
Typically, an alcoholic or an addict already knows that they can’t control their consumption anymore, so they often try to hide and disguise just how much they are tolerating and consuming.
Example: A good example of this is when you head out for the evening with the intention of just having one drink and yet, once you’ve had that 1st one you can’t stop yourself from having the second, third, fourth, etc.
- Can you control yourself once you’ve started binging?
- Are you able to stop at the appropriate time or when someone requests that you stop?
- Or do you start making excuses and justifications as to why you’re going to continue, despite the potential conflict your causing with your home, family, work, friends, etc.
- Do you keep returning to the dealer or off-licence multiple times during a ‘session’?
2) The more subtle side of addiction is the inability to stop oneself from starting another binge again, despite any previous promises. They’ve lost the power to of choice (“Shall I? Shan’t I?”).
They appear to be unable to stop themselves from doing it all again, despite knowing the harm they caused themselves and their loved ones the last time.
Notwithstanding any previous memory of recent troubles their previous binges may have caused them, they seem to be hopeless in their ability to choose not to do it all over again. To outsiders this is despairing to witness.
Example: A good example of this would be when you promised your partner or friend that you would behave yourself on an occasion, but found yourself breaking that promise and not even knowing why, inevitably bringing shame or embarrassment to the people you’re with.
- Are you able to fully commit and enjoy yourself in the company of others, or even when alone, without the use of mood or mind altering substances including alcohol?
- Have you solemnly promised loved ones that you wouldn’t do ‘it’ again, only to find yourself breaking that promise without a reasonable reason why?
3) They display personality shifts, which can easily be compared to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Their attitude becomes selfish and self-centred and their spirit (lust for life) seems lost or misdirected.
The most profound part of addiction is the inability of the afflicted individual to see for themselves how they negatively change and evolve once under the influence. This is often referred to as “being in denial”. They fail to listen when others around them encourage them to stop despite many ultimatums’ they may give.
Addictions to anything may be spotted by new personality traits such as greed, selfishness and being self-centred.
Hiding and becoming secretive about the levels of use are also likely to cause discreet shifts in personal relationships and behaviours.
Emotional unavailability due to this dependency will manifest and magnify itself louder and louder.
Example: There are two good examples for this, and they’re both rather different. The first could be when you lost your patience or temper and shouted at someone, and then later began to feel remorseful having to apologise for your behaviour without being able to understand why you reacted like that. The second example of this actually goes the other way, and they become resentful, bitter and twisted about the scenario, refusing to accept any responsibility or show any remorse, continuing to blame the other party.
- Have you noticed a change in your ability to pay attention to your family or colleagues, preferring to concentrate upon your own needs?
- Do you prefer to drink and / or use in your own environment without distractions?
- Do you find yourself planning ahead in order to make sure you have access to booze and / or drugs?
- Are you able to accept complete responsibility for your life, or do you feel strongly that there are specific people who’ve given you reason to be angry?
- Are there people you’d like to say sorry to but you’ve not yet found the right time or place (or courage)?
The solution to this malady usually requires a profound change in the individual, bringing them to a point of acceptance whereby recovery from this disease is a very real probability. This takes time, but is ultimately the most rewarding gift anyone with addictive illness can receive.