The Many Faces of Addiction

what addiction looks likeIdentifying a case of addiction can be difficult for a number of reasons. One reason is because addicts usually try to conceal their addictions and hide them away where the people in their lives cannot find them. Another reason is because the non-addicted person may not have a clear understanding of what addiction is and therefore not understand what they should be looking for or how they should interact with the addict. Addiction takes many forms, in both the range of things that one can be addicted to and how they affect that person’s behavior.

The two main different types of addictions are process addictions and substance addictions. A process addiction is when someone is addicted to a particular activity, such as sex, exercise or gambling. The person becomes obsessed with carrying out the activity in order to achieve a high from it. The other type of addiction is a substance addiction. This type of addiction relies on an ingested substance to initiate the high through altering the chemistry of the body and brain. Both produce the pleasure chemical dopamine within the brain which is the impetus for the repetitive addictive behavior.

Addiction creates some similar behavior patterns within people, but the way a person behaves under the influence of addiction is also very particular to that person. Some of the more common tells of an addict are as follows:

  • Time. An addict will plan and adjust their time around their addiction to make sure that a majority of their time goes to endulging in their addiction. If you see the person you suspect of being an addict begin to give less and less time to things that used to matter to them, at the same time they are being secretive of how they are reallocating their time, they may be an addict.
  • Money. Addicts invest a large portion of their money into their addiction. Some more than others, obviously, as some addictions are more expensive than others. For example, an addiction to alcohol or gambling are very costly addictions, where as someone can be addicted to sex or exercise on a budget. However, even the less expensive addictions add up as the person invests more and more into increasing their high.
  • Energy. The amount of energy a person will give to their addiction is staggering. They will stop putting their energy toward their relationships, thier job, their schooling and their responsibilities in order to give the best of themselves to their addiction.
  • Health. An addict’s health will deteriorate, either quickly or gradually, depending on their addiction. Substance addictions affect a persons health more rapidly where as process addictions affect a person’s health more slowly.


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