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Typical Behaviors Common to Addicts Delaware Council on Gambling Problems, Inc. (302)
What sort of behaviors are common to all addictions? How would someone act that might lead you to believe that they have become addicted to a substance or an activity?
Excessive Risk-Taking Engaging in activities without considering the possibility of serious harm
Using an Addictive Substance or Behavior to “Escape” Trying to avoid/erase emotional or physical pain
Social Isolation Not being able to “fit in” with others; acting like a loner
Tolerance Needing to do more and more of an activity or ingest more and more of a substance trying to achieve the same high as was felt the first time
Inability to Stop or Control the Addictive Behavior Compelled to continue no matter what the consequences have been thus far
Reduced or Lost Values Sense of right and wrong is blurred or missing
Lying, Stealing, Hiding Things Doing dishonest things to “feed” the addiction and keep others from knowing about it
Breaking Rules No longer caring about rules or laws because the addiction dictates their course of behavior
Withdrawal from Family and Friends Addict feels alone and misunderstood
Mood Swings Dramatic changes in mood from mania (high–highs) to depression (low-lows)
Abnormal Eating or Sleeping Habits Sleeping or eating too much or too little – or at inappropriate times
Change in Activity Level Examples: going from an active life to sitting around, or from a normal pace to a frenzied pace
Weight Loss or Weight Gain Influenced by changes in eating or sleeping habits and changes in activity
Lack of Motivation Losing interest in normal activities like school or sports because they take too much effort
Inability to Concentrate The brain is not working the way it used to work
Preoccupation with Substance or Behavior Craving is so strong that they can think of little else; thoughts dwell on the next “fix”
Need for Immediate Gratification Got to have it NOW
Low Self-Esteem and False Bravado Trying to mask feelings of inadequacy by acting tough
Chasing the High The high is never as good as the first time, but the addict keeps trying to get there again
Use of Rituals Examples: using drug paraphernalia in a certain sequence every time; wearing the same “lucky” hat when gambling
Denial Addicts make excuses for their problem behavior in an effort to convince themselves and others that they really do not have a problem
Tendency to Acquire Other Addictions An addicted brain will look for additional ways to get high; a brain in recovery will look to replace the old high with a new one
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