Addictions are tough. They are much beyond someone expressing a mere liking for any substance or activity. Addiction is the psychological inability to stop consumption of an addictive substance or an addictive activity. It can be the consumption of liquor or drug or an obsessive behavior like on the cell phone, social media, exercise, gambling, internet, gaming etc.
Addictions are harmful not only to the addicts but also to those closely connected to them, like the family members. The sufferings in addiction are grave for all involved. It has mental, physical, financial, emotional, relationship, and social costs. The COVID-19 shut-down time that has brought many family members together under one roof for a relatively long period. This can be very useful in monitoring and tackling addiction issues (if there is a likelihood) in any of them. In many cases, the addict would have succeeded in hiding the addiction from others. Sometimes the person could have succeeded even in hiding this verity of the addiction from close family members.
An alert family member will be able to detect it during these times, even though caution has to be exercised not to over-suspect and over-do the detection in such a way that he /she ends up branding an innocent family member as an addict. So, while looking out for signs of addiction including in the youngsters, come to a conclusion only after discussing them with a mind-care professional like the psychologist or psychiatrist, at least over the phone, to begin with. Some of the common signs and symptoms of addiction that can be observed from close proximity of the home are:
- Unusually overactive or slowed-down behavior
- Differences in speech or talking
- Prolonged drowsiness
- Unjustifiable eating habits
- Unusual body odor
- Obsession or obsessive behavior
- Secretive about activities
- Sleep disruptions
- Unusual irritability, restlessness, and violence
- Mood swings
- Hollow look
- Unwillingness to talk to others
- Anxiety and depression
- Unreasonable panic
- Breaking down in stressful situations
- Behaving argumentatively and defensively
- Showing paranoia (a belief of “others are out to trouble me, they are trying to monitor me” etc.)
- General fatigue
- Unusual behavior along with sweating
- Detected financial troubles and financial misappropriation
- Denial of addiction if confronted
- Diverting the topic of addiction or addiction-related queries
- Offering difficult-to-believe excuses and justifications for suspicious activities
- Disregard for personal harm
- Loss of self-control and craving for the addictive substance or activity
Picking up a few of the above and concluding that the person concerned is addictive is dangerously wrong. But, an otherwise observant person with rational thinking will be able to get a hunch or suspicion of addiction in the person concerned about observing some of the above symptoms. If a feeling of probability comes, the best is to consult a mind-care professional as mentioned above and seek advice rather than discussing it out at home and creating a scene. Addictions are treatable and curable.
It may require medication by a psychiatrist and counseling by a psychologist. Please avoid falling prey to the people like self-styled god-men / god-women, soothsayers, practitioners of black magic, etc. in the treatment for addiction. De-addiction is often prolonged and requires a lot of patience, sacrifice, and commitment from the caregiver. Believing that everything was fine when the condition improves and thus giving up the treatment and psychotherapy midway has often proved to be very harmful. The whole-hearted and unconditional emotional support to the addict by the caregiver is important and inescapably necessary. If handled with a lot of awareness and commitment, addictions can be cured, for life.