Substance Abuse: Behaviors of Addiction

These behaviors are for survival and to protect the drinking or drug usage.

Increased Use –
There is an increased use to include an increase in the amount, frequency and duration. It takes more drugs to give the desired effect.
Denial –
Denial is huge and easily done for the addict, as they are denying there is a problem to themselves. The denial of usage, the denial of the problems existing, and the denial of their behavior can all be present. The denial also comprises suppression, repression, and projection.
Rigidness/Rules and Regulations –
The addict relies on the outside rules and regulations to keep things going and especially to look good. The rules and regulations are especially applied to others.
Perfectionism –
Nothing is quite good enough. Again this often applies to others. There is always something wrong with anything that is done.
Hostile/Aggressive/Abusive –
One of the earliest signs of addiction is hostile and abusive behavior when using. As the addiction progresses these behaviors will unpredictably flare-up when the person is not using. The addict will also manipulate others into compliance with these behaviors. They are unpredictable and along with the other behaviors listed below will result in the development of much stress for others and create the “walking on eggshells” feelings.
Charming Manipulation –
The addict can be a super nice person, super worker when they want to be. The charm is both legitimate and illegitimate. Addicts are nice people, but they have learned if they are super nice, others are not likely to confront them on their bad behavior or their usage.
Superiority –
“No one is as smart as I am; no one can make intelligent decisions around her but me.” This is to cover feelings of inadequacy, but more important it prevents the addict from taking seriously anything others may say about their behaviors and their drinking or drugging.
Grandiose –
The addict tends to focus on big scheme, past successes, and expensive toys.
Promises with no actual change –
The addict will make promises that they may or may not mean, but they appease others. Change is not possible unless the chemical usage stops. Family members are hurt many times when they believe the promises, and eventually stop believing them to protect themselves. Much loss of trust comes from this behavior.
Social and Emotional Withdrawal –
The addict has the primary relationship with the chemical and withdraws from participation in activities with other people. The addict spends most of his/her time in the home in a specific place, for example, a favorite chair, the couch, a bedroom or the garage. If the family insists the addict participate in a function, the addict will dump abusive behaviors on them and spoil the event. The family either stops doing things, or does them without the addict and closes him/her out of the family unit. The family will be very hesitant to open up and let the addict back in until many months into sobriety.
Sexual Acting Out –
This is the only behavior that is not always present, but when it is, it may be one of the earliest signs addiction has developed. It may mean that the addict is having affairs and making sure that the spouse or significant other knows about it. It may show up as early as high school courtship. It also can encompass incest and sexual abuse of children.
Self-pity –
“Nothing is going right for me, everyone is against me…,” is the way this behavior is displayed. It is a real hook for a caring person and sets others up to be or become caretakers. It is an important component of the “manipulative game” in the games of the relationship. It is the hardest behavior to resist for a caring person.
Projection or blaming others –
It is always someone else’s fault if there is a problem. A good deal of verbal abuse occurs in this behavior. The addict can sound very reasonable and will combine the projection with outright verbal abuse, creating a great deal of hurt in others. The addict frequently accuses others of the very behaviors that he/she is doing.
Irresponsible –
As the addiction progresses, the addict becomes less and less responsible, he/she either do not get around to doing work, or it is done in an unacceptable way, leaving others to either do it or it doesn’t get done. When others continue to pick up the responsibility, the addict sees the job done and often convinces him/herself that he/she did it. A great deal of enabling goes on in this area.
No talk rule –
The addict creates the “no talk rule” to keep others from talking about the drinking and drug use and its associated problems. The addict then convinces him/herself that the drinking or drug use cannot be the problem, since no one is talking about it. Much of the “denial system” is supported by this rule.

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