6 Simple Signs You Are Addicted

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Am I addicted?
by Sandra Lenington
Is it just a harmless habit, OR is it addiction?
6 Simple Signs that Say, “I am addicted.”

There are many assessments available to take to tell if you may have an addiction. One simple way is to look at the criteria most often used to diagnose addiction, or, for a more official diagnosis, see The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (Fourth Edition) Text Revision, which is the current official text on which diagnoses are based, and contains the criteria for addiction and other mental health problems. (see definition at the end of this article)

I LOVE playing with words and letters, so I like to call them the 6 C’s:

The graphics depict someone who has a food addiction, but the signs are the same whether it is food, drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex or ___________!

Simply substitute a bottle, drug, or behavior; the process is similar.

  1. Craving:

    Craving is an intense desire for a specific substance or behavior. There can be the sense that I NEED this specific food, or this specific drug in order to make my life manageable or to make me feel better. Examples could be a cigarette, cocaine, pot, gambling, chocolate, sex, or shopping. “I just need a drink to take the edge off,” might be one example of the thinking that accompanies craving.

  2. Compulsion:

    Compulsion is a mental obsession. A compulsion manifests when my thinking about an activity or substance occupies more and more of the day. I can recognize a compulsion by the amount of time I spend planning when, how, where and with whom I can get my next fix. In the end, the habit takes over more and more of my thinking and my life. I arrange all of my activities around the substance or the behavior.

  3. Control:

    Controlling the amount of the substance or behavior becomes more and more difficult. It requires more and more of the substance or behavior to give me the same “high” or relief. When I start drinking or eating sugar, for example, I cannot know when I will stop. I may eat a whole box of cookies or I may drink vodka until I pass out.

  4. Continuing to use:
    Continuing to use

    I continue to use the substance or the behavior in spite of worsening consequences. For example, I may have a report I need to give at school or a presentation at work for an important client. In spite of the importance and my desire to do well, I show up drunk and barely able to stand up (or, pass out during the event. In the realm of food, I continue to eat sugar and overeat in spite of the consequences of increased weight, diabetes or joint pain.

  5. Concealing

    One of the most common signs of addiction is the need to hide the amount I am consuming of the substance or hiding the fact that I am engaged in the activity. For example, I find it necessary to hide the amount of food I am eating, or I have a secret stash of food, or alcohol hidden in the garage. I also may find it necessary to lie about my whereabouts if a sexual encounter is involved. Many alcoholics hide their liquor in coffee cups or vodka in their water bottles.

  6. Contempt:

    Contempt there’s a sense of shame involved with addiction the cycle goes like this I swear I’m not going to use drink overheat today things are going well pretty soon I get overwhelmed at work or a relationship is bothering me or thought and I began to crave the drink drug food at some point I given I can’t control when I stopped or when I will quit when I wake up the Good morning I say oh my gosh what is wrong with me I did it again


Now the I have shared my 6 simple signs, here is the official diagnosis of abuse and addiction:

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, substance use is considered abusive or addictive if the person has experienced three or more of the following signs during a 12-month period:

  1. Tolerance is evident when (1) a need exists for increased amounts of a substance to achieve intoxication or desired effects or (2) the effect of a substance is diminished with continued use of the same amount of the substance.
  2. Withdrawal is evident when (1) characteristic, uncomfortable symptoms occur with abstinence from the particular substance or (2) taking the same (or closely related) substance relieves or avoids the withdrawal symptoms.
  3. The substance is used in greater quantities or for longer periods than intended
  4. The person has a persistent desire to cut down on use of the substance, or the person’s efforts to cut down on use of the substance have failed.
  5. Considerable time and effort are spent obtaining or using the substance or recovering from its effects.
  6. Important social, employment, and recreational activities are given up or reduced because of an intense preoccupation with substance use.
  7. Substance use is continued even though some other persistent physical or psychological problem is likely to have been caused or worsened by the substance (for example, an ulcer made worse by alcohol consumption or emphysema caused by smoking).
  8. Drug abuse can occur with or without tolerance or withdrawal.
  9. Tolerance and withdrawal indicate physical dependence.

A key issue in evaluating addiction is if a person is unable to stop using the harmful substance (loss of control).

Often people who are addicted to a drug do not have insight into their inability to stop drug use and falsely believe they could stop if they “wanted to.” This is called denial.

No single event or criterion is indicative of an addictive disorder; drug use becomes addiction (drug abuse) only after a pattern of behavior that takes place over time.

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