When we look at the issue of who is an addict, or at least seems to be one, we look for some sort of physical characteristic to which we can point. The truth of the matter is, though, alcoholics and addicts are not just Skid Row types or addicts in a drug house. Addicts are doctors, lawyers, teachers, construction workers, policeman, military personnel, housewives, teenagers, senior citizens…the list is as varied as humans themselves. Addicts are the boy next door and the girl down the street, as well as the homeless in the shelters. They live in mansions, they live in the suburbs, and they live on the streets; they live everywhere people are.
Addiction is a worldwide problem, but hits home when it starts affecting your health, finances and personal life. Much of the time I’ll talk about the addiction to alcohol, because that’s the addiction I struggled with personally, but alcohol is only one kind of addiction among many. Addictions are as varied as the people who suffer from them. They could be addictions to chemicals like nicotine or hard drugs. They could even be addictions to activities such as overeating or gambling or sex.
You may be surprised to find behaviors like overeating lumped together with substance abuse, which is what most people think of when they consider addictions. When people are addicted to behaviors, though, they can actually become addicted to the chemicals that are produced naturally by the body. Imagine the thrill of placing a winning bet on your favorite football team…then imagine not being able to function without having that feeling all the time. When that happens, addicts become so obsessed with those activities that they start to suffer from the same problems as alcoholics or drug addicts.
Do you use even when you know those around you–family members, friends, or employers–would rather you not?
Have you ever used more than you intended, especially when you intended not to?
Has someone close to you ever asked you to stop using, or limit your use, but you continue anyway?
Have you ever had any legal, employment, or life difficulties related to your use?
If you answered yes to any one of these, you probably have a problem. If you answered yes to more than one, you definitely have a problem. As they say, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.
I like to say that people seek help when they’re driven by one of the four Ls: their lawyer, their liver, their livelihood, or their lovers. Most of us only seek help when there’s pressure. The fact that people continue in their addictions when they and others know it’s a problem is a sure sign that they have crossed that invisible line.
At Live Free Online Recovery we know that all types can suffer from this state of addiction, and we want to help people get better.