With so much stigma attached to addiction, it is not surprising that those affected often try to hide it. Most people think of mood-altering substances such as prescription medication, illegal drugs or alcohol when they think of the word “addiction”, but it can really refer to any substance or activity that causes an adverse impact on a person’s wellbeing.

Not everyone with an addiction abuses a chemical substance. Some individuals are addicted to eating; others to dieting. Still others may be addicted to the thrill of gambling. The one thing all of these have in common is the fact that they can cause destruction and chaos to the lives of those affected as well as to the lives of those around them.

Spotting Addiction

When it comes to substance abuse, there are usually physical signs that indicate a person has a problem. However, with some addictions, there are no physical symptoms and loved ones may not realise there is an issue until the addict begins to display certain behavioural signs.

In many instances, it will be a loved that will notice an individual is behaving differently to how he or she usually acts. Unfortunately, many addicts will become defensive or angry when confronted about the issue. There are certain signs to look out for  that will help when it comes to spotting addiction:

  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Nausea

If you spot any of these signs in a loved one and are concerned that he or she may have an addiction, you need to talk to him or her. Do not be put off by vehement denials; this is a normal reaction. It may be that the affected person has not actually realised that the problem exists, or it could be that he or she is in denial. Those with addiction often do not want to face up to the reality of their situation for fear of what it could mean for them.

How Addiction Affects Relationships

If you have been living with someone who you believe has an addiction, your life has no doubt been affected too. Even if you do not live with this person but he or she is close to you and is someone you care very much about, you are going to be upset and frustrated to see him or her affected in this way.

Addiction can have a devastating impact on relationships; family members often feel hurt or betrayed by a loved one who is addicted. They may fail to see this as an illness and are unable to comprehend how this individual can act in this way when doing so is causing so much harm.

Addicts learn very quickly how to manipulate others in order to get what they want and they will lie, cheat and steal from loved ones without a second’s thought if it means they can continue with their destructive behaviour. This can have a devastating impact on the family dynamic and can leave relationships in tatters without hope of it being repaired.

Addiction’s Effect on Children

While many adults find it extremely difficult to cope with another family member’s addiction, the effect it can have on children can be catastrophic. Children often blame themselves when their parents are angry or abusive. They believe they have done something wrong to make their mum or dad act in this way, and these feelings of blame and guilt can last a lifetime.

Children of addicts often suffer in later life with psychological and emotional problems. They are also more likely to develop addictions themselves, and they have a higher risk of suicide.

It is important that those affected by addiction get the help they need as soon as possible. Many organisations offer treatments for not only the addict but also the rest of the family as well.