For people struggling with addiction, it’s hard to see what is wrong with their behavior until it’s too late. For people looking from the outside, it’s hard for them to understand why an addict does not see that what they’re doing is wrong. Unfortunately, this is often the case with people outside of addiction. There is a massive stigma around addiction and a severe lack of education on the subject. Most people know the basics, people can get addicted to drugs or alcohol if they consume too much often enough. However, there is so much more to this issue, most people have only grazed the surface when it comes to knowledge on this subject. In this blog article, we are going to help you better understand what goes on in addicts’ mind and why they continue to live in addiction.

What is Addiction?

First, let’s define what addiction is. Addiction is defined as “the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.” What people tend to think is that this kind of behavior is a choice. Though the initial first decision to use a substance is a choice, what happens afterward is not entirely up to the user. What happens when someone actively abuses is a substance is that their brain gets rewired. They start becoming a different person. You may know some people in your life that seemed like upstanding/wholesome individuals, but they somehow fell into addiction. Alcohol abuse, drug abuse, gambling, sex addiction, overeating, etc. are all common addictions that people across the world deal with. How do people get addicted to these kinds of behaviors? 

How Addiction Works

Essentially, substances or behaviors manipulate a person’s brain into thinking that they absolutely need drugs, alcohol, or whatever in order to feel normal. They manipulate the amount of dopamine that is released in the brain, which is the hormone that is released through rewarding behavior. When this hormone is released in the brain, a person feels happy, uplifted, and excited. If substances and behaviors are abused often enough, the brain will release less dopamine which results in people craving greater amounts to get the desired effect. 

This is exactly how addiction forms; the brain tells a user that they need drugs/alcohol/gambling/sex/food more often in order to feel happier. Addicts may know that what they’re doing is wrong, but are unable to stop. Think about it this way, you decide that you need to start working out after work so you tell yourself “today is the day”. Once you get off work, you realize how tired you are and your body convinces you that you need a rest. Next thing you know, you’re on the couch binge-watching Netflix. You want to get in shape and be more active, but your body/mind has manipulated you into being comfortable with relaxing on the couch. The kind of thinking goes for addicts. They may want to change or at least see that what they’re doing is self-destructive, but their mind/body has told them they can seek comfort in substance use. Now that we know how addiction works, let’s talk about what addiction can cause a person to think and act like. 

What Addiction Does To A Person

Addiction can cause a person to not only fail with self-control, but it can also cause them to turn into a completely different person. Here’s how a person may think/act when they’ve been affected by addiction:

  • They May Become Liers: Addiction can do a lot of things to a person and some of the most common behavioral traits it can create in a person is lying and manipulating. As we’ve mentioned, long-term substance abuse can cause a person to become someone they aren’t. Oftentimes, those who struggle with addiction start to lie to friends, family and loved ones just to save face. 
  • They Become More Selfish/Manipulative: Another key behavioral trait of an addict is selfishness/manipulation. Keep in mind, it is not the addict who is selfish, but rather the addiction that is causing them to act selfishly. One thing we often see addicts doing is stealing money from loved ones to fund their substance abuse habits. They may do this in secret or try to emotionally manipulate a person into giving them money to “help out”. Addicts will often find someone that has a soft heart or someone that can be easily manipulated into doing what they want them to do. 
  • Their Lives Are Centered Around Substances: Addiction is powerful and it can have some serious side-effects on a person. Another way that it can affect a person is by causing them to center all their life plans/decisions on getting their fix. Any time they commit to something, they may try and make sure there is some kind of substance present to give them that feeling of euphoria or numbness. If they do attend events, they may come inebriated and under the influence. If they realize they are unable to have some kind of chemical refuge, they may just stay home and shut everything out. If ever a person gets to this point, they have become so dependent on a substance that they feel as if they cannot function properly without it. It may even get to the point where they have a hard time discerning right from wrong. Many addicts start to live dangerously when they are deep in addiction. They start to develop a “nothing to lose” mentality, which can result in criminal behavior and endangering themselves or others. 

Addiction is a serious disease and it can completely change a person. Maybe you know someone in your life who is struggling with addiction. It may seem hopeless, but don’t give up on them. Think about what we’ve discussed today; addiction is the problem, not the person. Just remember that people struggling with addiction may be acting selfish, but this is not their authentic self. Addiction has shaped them into something that they are not.  

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.