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Do You Know These Sneaky Signs of Addiction?

Do You Know These Sneaky Signs of Addiction?

Recognizing that you or a loved one has a problem isn’t easy. For many people, substance use disorders and behavioral addictions creep up gradually and the changes are hard to notice. Usually, by the time you realize that you, your significant other, your child, or your parent is in the grips of addiction, the brain has already been rewired to fuel the addiction, and it is harder to stop.

Take the CAGE Assessment

To find out if you might have a problem, take the following quiz. This questionnaire is called the CAGE Assessment and it has been used for decades in the addiction field to help identify problem drinking. These same questions can help you pinpoint problems with other substances—such as opioids, cocaine, or heroin—as well as with behaviors like gambling, compulsive shopping, or even overeating. In the quiz below, simply substitute the word “drinking” with “prescription drug use,” “cocaine,” “meth,” “gambling,” “compulsive shopping,” “internet porn,” “overeating,” or whatever your bad habit may be.

1. Have you ever felt you should Cut down on your drinking…or other behavior?

2. Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking…or other behavior?

3. Have you ever felt Guilty about your drinking…or other behavior?

4. Have you ever had a drink…or engaged in other behavior…first thing in the morning (as an “Eye opener”) to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?

If you answered “yes” to 2 or more of these questions, then you may have a problem.

There is one more critical question to ask. It is not part of the CAGE Assessment, but it is often the most telling.

5. Do you drink…or engage in other behavior…despite the negative consequences of the behavior in your health, relationships, your money, or with the law?

If you answered “yes” to this question, then it is time to take a hard look at your behavior. Continuing to drink or engage in other harmful behavior despite negative consequences is one of the clearest signs that you have an addiction.

11 Sneaky Signs of Addiction in Others

If you suspect a loved one may have a problem, you may think you know what to look for in terms of the signs and symptoms of addiction. Most people immediately think about finding drug paraphernalia, empty bottles of alcohol, receipts from casinos, or other physical evidence. But often the signs are far more subtle and can be mistaken for other issues or may co-exist with conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or ADD/ADHD.

Here are 11 common signs:

  1. Weight changes
  2. Changes in energy levels
  3. Changes in sleeping patterns
  4. Frequently feeling sick
  5. Withdrawal from family and friends
  6. Hanging out with new friends
  7. Neglecting responsibilities
  8. Breaking rules at home, work, or school
  9. Catching the person in lies
  10. Making excuses
  11. Borrowing or stealing money

Noticing any of these signs should be a cause for concern. Addressing problem behaviors early is important because left untreated, addiction ruins lives, devastates families, destroys relationships, negatively impacts careers, decreases the ability to perform well in school, and causes health problems. People with addictions are more likely to get divorced, less likely to graduate from high school or college, less likely to get promoted at work, and more likely to develop diseases related to their addiction. And addiction affects our society as a whole and burdens us all.

Getting Help

Seeking treatment for yourself or a loved one is the first step to healing. Functional brain imaging with SPECT can be a very powerful tool in the recovery process because it helps:

  • Break through denial
  • Determine if there are co-existing conditions requiring treatment
  • Decrease shame and stigma
  • Show that addiction is a brain disorder, not a personal weakness or character flaw
  • Increase treatment compliance
  • Evaluate if treatment is working correctly or needs to be adjusted

In addition, when people with addictions see before-and-after brain scans of people with addictions, it shows that healing is possible and elevates hope that they can break the chains of addiction.

At Amen Clinics, we use brain SPECT imaging as part of a comprehensive evaluation to help our patients see and understand any underlying brain dysfunction. This is often a powerful first step to breaking the chains of addiction. We use an integrated brain-body approach to healing the brain and treating any co-occurring mental health problems.

If you want to join the thousands of people who have already enhanced their brain health and overcome their addictions and psychiatric symptoms at Amen Clinics, speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.

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  1. Fadia Abouelaila says:

    After 30 years of dealing with my daughter’s addiction, I thought she had conquered it. But each time I thi k so, I am so wrong. She has been incarcerated at least four times and is going back for 17 months. I cannot help her, but do not k ow what to do now. Any suggestions?

    • Rukhsana Shahid says:

      Hello Fadia,

      I don’t have an answer but I wanted to say that I read your post and as a mother, my heart goes out to you and your daughter. May your daughter find a way out and may you have peace. May tomorrow be a brighter day. Sincerely Rukhsana.


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