At what point is the imaginary line between being a recreational user and an
addict become crossed? When we think of addiction, we typically think of the gutter
bum drunk or the homeless junkie on the street.
But with the social acceptance that drinking and some forms of drug use have in today’s society, what qualifies as an addiction is not always clear.
For those who may be wondering whether they or a loved one has crossed the line from a recreational user to an addict/alcoholic, we break down the three principle characteristics of addiction and/or alcoholism.
The phenomenon of craving
One of the three principle characteristics of addiction is the phenomenon of craving. While the addict may be able to achieve periods of abstinence from the substance, the time in between using will be filled with preoccupation and obsessing over the substance.
An example: a normal person may spend the entire week looking forward to going to the bar with their friends on Friday. The addict, however, is looking forward all week to going to the bar with their friends so they can drink.
The addict/alcoholic typically will not drink or use “normally” as their friends may. They may begin the evening with a firm plan in how much they plan to use, to insure that things do not get out of hand.
This plan, however, almost always falls through. They typically will lose control over how much they intake once the first drink/drug/etc is used.
Addiction and/or alcoholism invariably lead to some form of negative consequences if it goes on long enough. These can affect one or all aspects of one’s life, whether it is legal, personal relationships, health, etc. What separates the addict/alcoholic from the recreational user, however, is how they respond to these negative consequences.
A classic example is someone who gets a DUI under the influence. The normal person will respond to a DUI by ceasing drunk driving or drinking altogether. The addict/alcoholic, however, will eventually succumb to the phenomenon of craving and resume the behaviors that originally lead to the negative consequence(s).
This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.