While many of us might find some of our behaviors to be worrisome or problematic, they may not be truly addictive in nature. For example, we may feel we have a drinking problem but with some work can get it under control. When our behaviors are addictive, on the other hand, they are much harder to resolve. How do we know if we have an addiction?
Addicts often feel like they cannot control their addictive behaviors. Their behaviors are often compulsive, and addicts may feel they are beyond their power to stop. Addicts tend to know that their behaviors are harmful, dangerous and self-destructive but don’t feel like they can stop themselves. They often feel like there is a power greater than themselves driving them to continue their addictive, compulsive behaviors. They might feel like both their actions and thoughts are out of their control. They may feel powerless, confused, lost and overwhelmed.
People living with addictions often also experience depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Addicts often feel a deep sense of shame about their addictions, their mistakes and wrongdoings, and the ways in which they’ve hurt other people and themselves. They are often filled with regret and remorse.
One characteristic of addictions is the tendency towards denial and defensiveness. We often find ourselves unable to face the painful reality of our situation, so we deny it both to ourselves and the people in our lives. When we are confronted, we often act defensively and react with anger. Oftentimes we aren’t yet ready to come to terms with our addictions and the underlying fears and traumas fueling them. To face them means facing years, sometimes lifetimes, of pain, and sometimes we just aren’t ready.
Someone with a drinking problem rather than alcoholism, for example, might recognize that he is drinking more often and that it is impacting him negatively. He might then implement the necessary steps to modify his drinking habits. It is not as simple for alcoholics, on the other hand, because the drinking is often tied to a deeper pain. For addicts, using our drugs of choice is not just a fun activity, a way to socialize or relax after work. It is a self-destructive coping mechanism that we use to escape our pain, self-medicate and numb ourselves.
Coming to terms with our addictions can be one of the hardest things we’ll ever have to do but one of the best things we could ever do for ourselves. You don’t have to do it alone. The community at Vista Taos is here to help. Call (575) 586-5078.