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How To Deal With Addictive Behavior

How To Deal With Addictive Behavior
Written by Seth Fletcher on March 1, 2022
Last update: May 14, 2024
Addiction comes in many forms, and substance abuse is perhaps the best known. Whether it's an addiction to drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, or something else, addictions can destroy a person's relationships, job, finances, and health. Even healthy habits such as exercise can become addictive and negatively impact a person's life. Here's a look at some of the many forms of addiction, the signs that there's a problem, and how to deal with it.
Table of contents

1. What Are Some Addictive Behaviors That Can Occur 
With Substance Addiction?
2. How Do Addictive Behaviors Start?
3. How To Change Addictive Behavior

What Are Some Addictive Behaviors That Can Occur With Substance Addiction?

Many times, someone with a substance abuse problem might begin to compulsively engage in other types of addictive behavior. Some very common behavioral addictions (also called "process addictions") include engaging in sexual behavior, shopping, gambling, playing video games, overeating, and exercising. (1)

How Do Addictive Behaviors Start?

how-to-deal-with-addictive-behavior Image via Unsplash by wyronThere are many telltale signs that someone you know may be suffering from an addiction. If you see them exhibit any of the following behaviors or symptoms, it could be an indication that they have an addiction.


Most people will try to hide their addiction, whether it's because they don't want anyone else to know or because they're in denial that they have a problem. If you notice that someone is suddenly keeping secrets, lying about their whereabouts or what they've been up to, or disappearing for long, unexplained periods, they may be hiding an addiction. The person may also try to hide phone calls or text messages, isolate themselves, or become defensive when you ask them about their activities. Missing money is another common sign.

Loss of Interest in Activities They Usually Enjoy

Someone with a serious addiction often loses interest in the things they used to do for fun, such as hobbies, traveling, or spending time with friends and family. They begin to prioritize their addictive behavior over doing other activities that previously brought them happiness and satisfaction. If you notice that someone suddenly has no interest in something they've always done in the past, they might have an addiction.

Increase in Legal Issues

Seriously addicted people will do almost anything to get the object of their addiction. Sometimes, that can even include illegal behavior, such as assault or stealing. If you notice that someone seems to have a lot of run-ins with the law, it could be an indication of an addiction. Some of the most common legal charges include drug possession, DUI, public intoxication, fraud, writing bad checks, theft, and domestic or other violence.

Significant Changes in Appearance

Many forms of addiction can affect a person's physical appearance, especially drug or alcohol abuse and food addiction. Depending on the type of addiction, some signs include significant changes in weight, unusually bad personal hygiene, needle marks or sores, bloodshot eyes or dark circles under the eyes, and a drastic change in clothing style.

Appearance of Objects Related to Their Addiction

You might see evidence of someone's addiction by discovering certain objects and paraphernalia. In the case of a drug or alcohol addiction, for instance, they might leave behind empty liquor or beer bottles, rolling papers, syringes, lighters, pill bottles, etc. If someone has a food addiction, you might find excess food wrappers or containers lying around. And someone with a shopping addiction might suddenly possess a lot of brand-new items or have many shopping bags.

Irresponsible Behavior

People with an addiction often blow off important things in order to engage in their addictive behavior. They may choose to drink, do drugs, gamble, or perform another addictive behavior rather than taking care of obligations such as going to work or school, paying bills, attending family events, or honoring other commitments. If you notice someone calling out of work frequently, skipping school or getting bad grades, not showing up for social activities, or neglecting financial necessities, such as paying rent, this might be evidence of an addiction.

Changes in Mood or Energy Level

An addiction is an emotional roller coaster, and people suffering from addiction often exhibit frequent and severe mood swings and changes in energy level. One minute, they might be happy and energetic, and the next, they're suddenly depressed and lethargic. They may also show feelings of confusion, paranoia, or aggression, and they may become antsy, irritable, or even violent. People with addictions may sleep excessively or not sleep at all for an extended period. They may also have drastic changes in appetite, ranging from extreme hunger to a lack of desire for food altogether. (2)

How To Change Addictive Behavior

Ready to fight your addiction or to help someone else with theirs? There are several steps you can take to change and lessen addictive behavior. These include:

Making the Decision To Change

The first step is to decide that you need and want to change. Once you acknowledge that there's a problem, you can work toward solving it. You can also begin to figure out how you'll go about improving the situation. Work toward your goal slowly, and don't try to do too much too soon, as that often leads to returning to the addictive behavior.

Getting Ready To Change

Once you're determined to change the addictive behavior and have decided how, you can prepare to do so. Start by removing addictive substances from your environment and trying to avoid triggers that make you want to engage in the addictive behavior. For example, stay away from bars or don't bring certain food into your house. You may need to avoid people who encourage your addiction. This is also the time to begin gathering the resources you need to fight the addiction. (3)

Seeking Help

Dealing with addiction is easier if you have help. Turn to friends or family members who can support you as you work toward getting rid of your addiction and who'll help you along the way. It's also a good idea to seek professional help, such as that of doctors or experts at treatment facilities. The professionals at The Canadian Centre for Addictions are well-equipped and ready to assist you with your battle against addiction.

The Canadian Centre for Addictions (CCFA) Is Here to Help!

The Canadian Centre for Addictions (CCFA) offers a full range of quality services that give our visitors flexible therapy and counseling for drug and alcohol addiction. Contact us now and ask about our addiction program.Addiction causes problems for you and your loved ones, but you don't have to keep living with it. There are ways to reduce or eliminate addictive behavior. Reach out to the CCFA for help so that you can get your life back.
Certified Addiction Counsellor

Seth brings many years of professional experience working the front lines of addiction in both the government and privatized sectors.

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