How do I know if I’m an addict?

The word “addiction” is a strange one. It’s thrown around everyday speech like it’s a normal everyday occurrence. We’ll hear people say, “Oh, I’m addicted to Netflix” ….. “I’m so addicted to chocolate / buying shoes”….and so on and so on. But we shouldn’t really be saying that, because addiction in its most serious forms is a silent killer, and a mental, physical, emotional and spiritual illness, affecting every part of our being – and our loved one’s too.

So how do we know if we’re an addict? Surely everyone is addicted to something, and if everyone is doing it, then it can’t be that bad, right? Hopefully this article will give some insight as to how to recognise some of the lesser known signs of addiction.

Primarily, addiction is about consequences – the results of our behaviour. The World Health Organisation recognises addiction is “continuous use despite negative consequences”.

We can trick ourselves into thinking, “well, I didn’t hurt anyone, so what’s the big deal? No negative consequences for me”. But challenge yourself to consider your emotional consequences – shame, guilt, self sabotage, anxiety, depression. Do these things keep happening after you act out on your addiction? Then it’s a consequence. What about the consequences on your family and loved one’s? What would they say about your addiction?

Are you keeping it secret? That’s a consequence. When we really take a fearless, moral inventory of our behaviour, it requires us to take a long hard look at ourselves and can reveal uncomfortable truths.

Amongst recovery circles, there’s a saying, “secrets keep you sick”. Often that’s the pull of addiction – it becomes a secret. Thrilling at first, then as it progresses (and it will because that’s the very nature of addiction) the secret becomes bigger and bigger, until it becomes too big to share.

Denial and comparison are two other things to look out for with our addictive behaviours. These two keep our addiction secret. We’ll often hear people say, “well, I can’t be an addict, because I only do it on the weekends”. But addiction is not about quantity, it’s about the effect that it has on your life and the lives of those around you. There is always a cause and effect to all of our behaviour – even if we don’t know the people who are involved in our acting out.

When we start to look out for our own individual signs of addiction, we’ll often find that the slippery slope to addiction starts with us reacting to the same triggers, whether that’s a person, place or thing. But one thing which is common to all addicts is the sense of wanting “MORE” and not hearing that self-regulation button of stopping. And that’s the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results.

Hopefully this article gives more of an insight rather than a directive as to where you’re at with your own journey of addiction. Remember – if in doubt, speak it out. There is always someone who has been on a similar journey. Promise. X


Written by Camilla Simpson