One of the advantages of thoroughly studying a topic is that you begin to see patterns in it. And this is the case with addiction and the treatment of addiction. Over the years, as experts have seen the patterns of addiction in their patients and as recovering addicts have seen the patterns of addiction in themselves, it has become evident that there are a few common themes.

The following is a list of patterns that are frequently seen in those who experience addiction. Another advantage of knowing these patterns is that if you see them in yourself or others, you can make a good guess that he or she is experiencing an addiction.

Fantasy: When there is an overwhelming amount of thinking, worrying, and dreaming about drinking or getting high, there’s an indication that there might be a compulsion. With addiction, you’re not only getting high, but you’re thinking about getting high and you’re planning your day around getting high. Fantasizing and daydreaming about your drug of choice frequently accompanies addiction.

Self-Nurturing: The self-nurturing aspect of addiction is its illusion. Although a person is choosing to engage in drinking or drugging on seemingly his or her own terms, he or she is doing it at times when there’s a need for self-nurturing. When the stress is high, that’s the time to go to the bar. When the argument begins, that’s when to pull out the marijuana. Addiction arises partly out of a need for self-nurturing.

Self-Medicating:  Those who are using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism for strong emotions or to function better are known to be self-medicating. However, most individuals who self-medicate do so unintentionally. Those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are often looking for relief from challenging emotions or for a way to better function at home or at work.

False Sense of Control: Most addicts believe that drinking or using drugs is a way of controlling their life. Drinking can help cope with life’s stresses – this is a thought that often accompanies addiction. However, this is far from being true. What an addiction does is withhold one’s power. Instead of facing challenges head on, the powerless choice is to avoid it with drugs or alcohol. Instead of facing marital issues, for instance, it’s easier to drink. But this robs one of his or her autonomy and can only exacerbate life’s challenges.  Furthermore, if an individual is setting up his or her day to drink or use drugs, such as the fantasizing described above, then it perhaps the drug itself has the control and not the other way around.

Self Destruction: No matter the addiction, whether it is an eating disorder or alcoholism or over working, addiction is always a pattern of destruction. In fact, addiction not only destroys the life around you – relationships, career, physical health, and so on – it’s also destroying yourself. And perhaps that’s where the destruction begins. Like a wheel with self-destruction at its center, the surrounding people, places, and things also feel the waves destruction too. All addictions lead to the spiritual, emotional, physical, and social destruction of the addict.

If you see these patterns in someone you love, it’s important that you contact a mental health professional. Doing so may eventually save your loved one’s life.

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