September is National Recovery Month, a time to recognize millions of Americans who have achieved recovery from substance abuse and addiction disorders. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 20 million adults have a substance use disorder. While the word “addiction” is most often associated with substance misuse, other behaviors such as gambling, gaming, internet use, and shopping may become addictions too.
Understanding Addictive Behavior
The path from habit to addiction is usually gradual and leads to continuing behaviors despite harmful consequences. Here are some warning signs that might indicate that you or a loved one may be developing an addiction:
- Spending a lot of time thinking about the addictive substance or behavior
- Needing more and more of the addictive behavior to get the same satisfaction
- Unintentionally overdoing it despite the negative consequences
- Wanting to quit but being unable to follow through
- Continuing the addictive behavior despite its negative effects on your work performance, ability to follow through on your personal obligations, or on your personal relationships
- Being secretive about the addictive behavior with your family members, friends, or colleagues
- Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal such as anxiety or tremors when attempting to quit
Seeking Help and Support for a Loved One
If you think someone you care about is engaging in substance abuse or addictive behavior, consider these tips to help you start a conversation about getting support:
- Don’t ignore the problem. Ignoring the issue can be interpreted as approval of the behavior and can further enable that behavior.
- If you are confronting someone about substance misuse, do so when they are sober. Talking to an addict when they are under the influence means they will likely be irrational and unable to control their emotions.
- Try to focus on how the addiction affects the people around them. Provide specific examples of how their addiction has impacted your feelings, caused harm, or led to negative consequences to those around them.
- Don’t be overly confrontational; stay calm and be factual. Someone who exhibits addictive behavior can be defensive and direct confrontation can drive them farther away from you and any potential positive change.
- Look to professionals, including your Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Whether you need help for yourself or a loved one, take advantage of the benefits and services provided by your EAP. Whether you are concerned about yourself or someone you care about, EAP is available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to offer resources, support, and expert guidance.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides options for recovery-oriented care and recovery support systems to help people with mental and substance use disorders manage their conditions successfully.
- If you would like more information about treatment for yourself or a loved one, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Your Employee Assistance Program provides you and your family members with confidential and professional counseling at no cost to you.