How to Spot a Possible Addiction

If you’re concerned that you or someone you know may have an addiction to drugs, alcohol or a problem behavior, it can be difficult to know for sure. There is a shorthand test that can help make this determination. It’s about applying the three C’s.

I’m not talking about the three C’s of addiction recovery, which are: I didn’t cause it, I can’t cure it and I can’t control it. This will be the subject of a future blog post.

I’m talking about:


The person has an intense, abnormal need to use their substance of choice or conduct the unhealthy behavior. It’s as if the person cannot do without it. The craving causes a person to spend a lot of time finding, using and recovering from the substance use. It also causes a person to go out of their way to perform and hide the problem behavior.


The person has an irresistible, repetitive urge to use or behave, especially against one’s wishes. The person is not in control and cannot resist. It may be difficult to imagine the helplessness felt by an addict, but the temptation is overwhelming.

Continued use (despite negative consequences)

Addiction has many serious negative consequences. It can cause loss of job, broken relationships, financial distress and legal problems. The person continues to use or behave despite these. Bad consequences may slow the person down, but it won’t stop them.

If a person doesn’t meet all three of these criteria, there could still be a problem. Dependency or heavy use of alcohol, drugs or a faulty behavior can adversely interfere with one’s life in many ways.

A feature of addiction is a foul up of the reward system wiring in the brain. The more use of the substance or behavior of choice, the more the brain is rewired to disable good decision making. This is a major reason why recovery is so difficult.

If you suspect an addiction could be present, it’s critical that help is received as soon as possible. This is also true for dependency or heavy use. For the best outcome, contact an addiction specialist. Please don’t hesitate to contact me for a free phone consultation at 469-629-6995.

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