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Some people are still not convinced that they may have a problem.  “I am not as bad as______” or “I only drink on the weekends.”  The point is not how bad someone else is, or how often you are engaging in the behavior. The point is that you are experiencing problems in one or more areas of your life because of use, AND you continue to use..  No, you may not be as bad as _______.  Everyone’s bottom is different.  The point at which the behavior hurts more than it helps is your bottom. 

Addiction follows a fairly predictable path.  Part of this is because, as you use your   addiction to escape problems, the problems never get solved—they only get worse, and your brain chemistry becomes progressively “wonky.”  Place a check next to each of the following statements that describes your behaviors as your addiction progressed.

  • Started with occasional drinking/gambling/internet porn/exercise etc. in order to get relief/escape/relaxation, or to “fit in”
  • Things keep getting worse, so relief drinking/gambling/internet porn/exercise becomes more constant. You cannot really imagine going without it.
  • Need more of the substance/activity to get the same high. (Gamble more, buy more expensive things, get more attention from people, watch more extreme porn, start pushing your body to its limits) Brain chemicals are out of balance.
  • Your family or friends started expressing concern.
  • Started having blackouts/losing track of time while engaging in the behavior
  • The urge to use/do the behavior became more urgent
  • Began feeling guilty for using. You know what you are doing is causing you problems, but didn’t want to or know how to stop.
  • Unable to discuss problems. You didn’t feel like anyone would understand
  • Harder to stop using when others do, or adhere to self-imposed limits (i.e. only spending $100 at the mall, or 1 hour online or at the gym)
  • Starting to fail to keep promises. You chose the addiction instead of helping your friend move or going to your kid’s recital.
  • Dramatic and/or aggressive behavior began as people started to question your behavior. The addiction is your obsession.  It is all you think about.  It is what makes you feel better.  You believe the people who are questioning you are judging you.  Nobody judges you when you are using.
  • Efforts to control the behavior/use fail repeatedly
  • Loss of other interests
  • You begin to avoid family and friends — They do not understand. You feel like they are judging you.  You may feel a guilty, angry, resentful toward them
  • You begin to have resentments (which you later look back on as unreasonable)—Example: After I spent all my money at the bar, you did not give me money to fix my car, so I couldn’t get to work and lost my job.
  • You start having problems at work, with money, and begin to neglect your diet, sleep and general health
  • Your intoxication/use periods become longer (days or weeks instead of hours)
  • Your thinking becomes impaired—judgment is bad, memory is lost
  • You start acting in ways that are contrary to your values so you could use
  • You start feeling afraid, anxious and/or paranoid for no identifiable reason
  • You begin feeling completely defeated

If this sounds familiar, then you probably have an addiction.  Remember, addiction is a lifestyle and a physical condition, not just a substance or activity.  It has taken a toll on your relationships, your mood and your health.  Addiction is rarely something you wake up one morning and decide—“Hey, I don’t think I will do that anymore.” And badda-bing you are cured.  Your body has to have time to recover.  This includes your brain getting rebalanced.    You probably have some relationships to mend.  You may need to change residences or jobs. You most certainly have to work on becoming mindful or what you are feeling and choosing healthy coping skills.   You are beginning your recovery journey.

In the workbook, there are more activities that will help you identify how you got to this point including a detailed template for your autobiography and a guide to help you analyze it.