An addiction to food is likely one of the most acceptable forms of addiction in our society, but does food addiction always imply the diagnosis of an eating disorder? Honestly, it depends on who you ask. In my experience, my dependencies and addiction with food inevitably morphed into an eating disorder, but that doesn't mean everyone with an eating disorder is a food addict.
Addiction Signs and Symptoms
As this decade is reaching its end, I am reminded of how long behavioral addictions have haunted me and exactly how far I've come. Around 2010, I first began exploring my sexuality as a teenager and I quickly learned how helpful sex could be as a coping skill for a struggling and defiant teenager like myself. Over time though, I wasn't just relying on sex to cope, my tendency to rely on certain behaviors or activities to survive slowly spread to nearly every area of my life including things like food, social media, shopping, and probably even others that I'm not fully aware of. Behavioral addictions are especially tricky to conquer because they commonly involve the most regular and routine aspects of our lives and they often go completely unnoticed.
It's important to know how to identify the warning signs of addiction relapse when you have a loved one who is in recovery from addiction. There are some telltale signs that a person in recovery is moving toward an addiction relapse, even before they actually use drugs or drink again. When you are able to identify those signs, you may be able to help your loved one avoid relapsing and get his or her feet firmly planted back in recovery.
How do you know if you are an alcoholic? What makes a person an alcoholic? Perhaps you're wondering because the start of a new year often brings reflection on the past as well as hope for the future. It can prompt a person to make resolutions to be healthier, and that may be motivation to look at whether he or she is an alcoholic. Addiction to alcohol, or alcoholism, is not a one-size-fits-all disease. There isn’t a blood test for it, it doesn’t consist of a specific number of drinks per day, nor can someone decide that you are an alcoholic for you. Whether or not you are an alcoholic depends on a number of conditions, the biggest being the effect that alcohol has on your life.
Addiction to benzodiazepines (benzos) can be very dangerous for users. Benzodiazepine medications are typically prescribed for people who suffer from anxiety or other mental illness. The drugs are fast acting and they begin to work as soon as they hit the user’s body. That means that rather than waiting for days or weeks for a medication to build up to therapeutic levels, benzodiazepines are able to provide users with almost immediate relief. This instant effect can increase the risk of benzodiazepine addiction Prescribers like to use this type of medication because of its instant effect and the fact that it allows patients to begin therapy and other treatments more quickly than medications like antidepressants (which have to build up). Commonly used benzodiazepines include clonazepam (Klonopin), alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan).
If you spend any time at all in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), you will likely hear the term “dry drunk” referring to someone who is in addiction recovery and, in fact, still sober. I didn’t understand the term until I had been in the program for a while. I wondered to myself how could someone be a drunk when they were remaining sober. However, I learned that sobriety isn’t the same as recovery and a dry drunk is sober, but not actively recovering from his or her addiction.
Is there an addictive personality? The most recent research involving the addictive personality concept indicates no single, addictive personality type exists (Addiction Symptoms: Signs of an Addict). However, certain groups of traits seem to indicate predisposition to addiction.
Addiction is my behavior, it is not about a substance run wild. My alcoholism is rooted in negative behavior that requires rigorous mental health treatment. Even though I am an alcoholic in recovery, I feel that my substance of choice is just a symptom of my addictive personality. My addiction becomes stronger when I engage in one of three behaviors because my addiction is a behavior and it's not about the substance.
Withdrawal symptoms from stimulants, marijuana and hallucinogens is not considered directly life-threatening by the medical community. However, the withdrawal symptoms can still be dangerous, as can the behavior associated with the withdrawal symptoms of stimulants, marijuana and hallucinogens.
Substance use withdrawal from alcohol, opiates and benzodiazepines is unpleasant and can be dangerous or even fatal, as I wrote about in my last post, Dehumanizing Addicts: A Stigma Leading To Deaths. But different substances produce different kinds of withdrawals and dangers. Here is an overview of withdrawal symptoms for alcohol, opiates, and benzodiazepines (a future post will address more substances).