Six signs that you may be an addict

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (R) speaks to the media at Toronto City Hall November 5, 2013, next to his...

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (R) speaks to the media at Toronto City Hall November 5, 2013, next to his brother Doug (L). Ford admitted Tuesday that he has smoked crack cocaine, probably "in one of my drunken stupors", but insisted he's not an addict. (REUTERS/Aaron Harris)

Joanne Richard, Special to QMI Agency
 

, Last Updated: 12:29 PM ET

Drinking lots lately? Gorging on a cocktail of hallucinogenic drugs? It’s really no problem! So you say. While the world is still taking cracks at Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s recent admission that he did drugs, when addiction enters your own life it’s anything but a joke.
Obviously one man’s moderation is another’s bacchanal. But take heed: When your preferred tonic is increasing in use and toxicity, you have a problem! So says Dr. Wendy Walsh. And denying and rationalizing your substance use is another big red flag. “How can you tell that an addict is lying? His mouth is moving,” says Walsh, of drwendywalsh.com.

According to Dr. Constance Scharff, addicts often believe their own lies. “Certainly addicts believe their own minimizations of their actions: ‘It didn’t hurt anyone.’ ‘I’m o.k.’ ‘I don’t need any help.’ Those types of falsehoods are ingrained in the addict’s mind so that s/he can continue using.”

They sneak around and lie, carving out time to procure and use their substance of choice, says Scharff, an author and addiction recovery expert at Cliffside Malibu Treatment Center in California. “They do their best to keep up facades - showing up at work and in relationships as much as possible - but lapses will begin as the substance abuse becomes more extreme.”

The addict’s dogged, single-minded pursuit of drugs rips apart relationships and lives, says Scharff, co-author of Ending Addiction for Good.

“Depending on the substances being abused and in what amounts, individuals can become hostile and secretive. They desperately need to feel safe, not to be caught or confronted – because they feel that it is the substance that is holding them together,” says Scharff, an addiction researcher at cliffsidemalibu.com, who just celebrated 15 years of recovery from severe alcoholism. “Those who get in the way of their using can receive a barrage of hostility that is undeserved.”

Addicts in the workplace cause others to have to cover for them, underperform, have high absentee rates, and can be the cause of preventable accidents, she says. “Eventually addicts cannot continue to function and work falls to the wayside like all other activities as the disorder progresses.”

Meanwhile, add a position of power to the mix and it’s a further recipe for disaster. “There is something in the experience of power that makes a person believe that the rules do not apply to them. Indeed, a lot of the time they do not.”

She adds: “Well-placed family and friends, money, or other connections cannot save us from it if we overindulge.”

 Are you an addict? Here are six signs you need help, according to Richard Taite, founder of Cliffside Malibu Treatment Center in California, which offers integrative, holistic addiction recovery methods to heal.

• You conceal how much and how often you use. “Addicts hide their use as much as possible so that they can continue to use without loved ones interfering,” says Taite, a recovered cocaine addict for more than a decade.

• You experience negative consequences to your drug/alcohol use. “More than a once-a-year hangover, your relationships, work, health, or finances are being negatively impacted by your substance abuse,” says Taite.

• You use more than you once did. “This is called tolerance - it takes more and more of a drug to get the same effect you once did,” says Taite.

• You use to control withdrawal symptoms. “When you’re not using, you don’t feel well and may experience a variety of symptoms. To avoid these symptoms, you stay high most of the time.”

• You’ve stopped activities you once enjoyed. “Drug or alcohol abuse takes our lives from us,” says Taite. “You stop doing the things you once found pleasure in.”

• You keep using even though you see your life deteriorating. “Addicts see the problems substances are causing in their lives, but go on using anyway,” he adds.

 


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