Spotting the signs of addiction is extremely difficult because not everyone exhibits every symptom. Many people’s addictions go unnoticed because they’re able to maintain what seems like a normal life. Remember, addiction is any sort of continuous action despite the negative consequences a person endures. This is why it’s important for you to be able to spot some of the most common addictive behaviors. These include:
- Physical cravings
- Risky behaviors
The Obsession and Addictive Behaviors
Addiction is extremely cunning. In fact, many people don’t understand how they developed an addiction in the first place. However, when individuals really look closely, they often find that they were showing addictive behaviors long before they tried alcohol or drugs. One of the most common signs is when a person obsesses over any activity that releases dopamine.
When an individual has an obsession with drugs or alcohol, he or she constantly thinks about getting drunk or high. He or she may verbalize this regularly with family, friends or even co-workers. Every conversation may veer towards talking about getting drunk or high, but some people are better about internalizing it. This is why it’s so important for you to be able to self-diagnose and realize if you have a mental obsession when it comes to alcohol or drugs.
The Physical Craving
A clear sign of addiction is when individuals are incapable of stopping or moderating their alcohol or drug use once they start. Biologically, people who suffer from addiction receive a huge flood of dopamine, which overrides the prefrontal cortex in the brain. The prefrontal cortex helps regulate the flow of dopamine and assists a person in making logical decisions. Those who experience a physical craving will continue drinking or using drugs until someone stops them, regardless of the consequences.
Risky Addictive Behaviors
One of the other major issues with addiction and the prefrontal cortex is that this part of the brain is responsible for fear modulation. Those who struggle with addiction have a much different sense of fear than the average person. This is why so many people with an addiction to alcohol or drugs get involved in situations that many people couldn’t imagine. This can involve driving, caring for children, or even engaging in risky sexual activity while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In fact, a perfect example of how risky behaviors contribute to addiction is the common funnel to heroin dependency. Many people who have an addiction to heroin never thought they would ever try such a dangerous drug. As the person continues to abuse prescription opioids, the idea of using heroin becomes far less scary. This is also why people go from less-risky gateway drugs to far worse illicit drugs.