Many people struggle with knowing the right time to confront a loved one with their concerns of addiction. Sometimes this is around not wanting to upset their loved one and make matters worse. For others, it is based on not being confident that the behaviours they have seen are worthy of brining up. For still others, it it about fear that they may not present their concerns in the most constructive way.
The article below picks up the process and gives some good guidance on how to move forward once you have decided action needs to take place. So lets start by taking a look at how to know if action is needed.
What is addiction?
The technical answer to what is addiction will lead you into a detailed checklist of symptoms and troubling behaviours. This is how a psychologist would go about making a formal diagnosis. However, a straightforward way to look at it is by asking yourself does it cause you drama or chaos? This answer will give you a gut check to help you decide if somehow the behaviour “Just Ain’t Right”. A final part of the decision happens once you recognise it causes trouble and you are not able to change your behaviours. Then you are truely in it.
Don’t people only get addicted to drugs?
No. It is possible to be addicted to drugs and alcohol, for sure. However, it is also possible to become addicted to behaviours. There are certain behaviours e.g. gambling, sex, and compulsive eating that can impact our lives in much the same way as drugs. On a biological and chemical level these behaviours can operate off the same reward pathways in your brain. These behaviours can activate many of the same areas of the brain as drugs. They can even change the patterns of release of the neurotransmitters in your brain e.g. dopamine that encourage us to repeat behaviours.
How much is too much?
This really is a trick one to answer. With drugs and alcohol it is possible to reference charts to determine unsafe doses. However, for behaviours it becomes a bit more subjective. It may not be the exact dollar amount you lose gambling, the number of hours you spend online, or how many times per week you have sex. The focus shifts to questions like the following:
Are you neglecting other people or things to do these tasks?
Are you engaging in risky behaviour?
Is it negatively impacting your relationships, work, finances, health…?
How do I start a conversation about this?
Finally, once you have determined that your loved one’s behaviour has crossed the line it is time for you to consider how best to take action. Now you are ready to click on the link below to learn strategies, on how to follow through.
I was recently interviewed for an article published by Body and Soul covering how to talk to men about your concerns around addiction.