Addiction affects your life in many different ways. However, these changes don’t happen all at once – they occur gradually over time. This is why family and friends might not notice a problem until much later. Not to mention, addicts are often very good at hiding their habit – at least for a while. They might pre-drink before going out so it looks like they drink less, or they might start with prescription pills that have little evidence.
Eventually, substance use catches up to a person, and loved ones do begin noticing changes. It also becomes harder for the addict to hide their problem, as addiction is progressive and affects all areas of life. Let’s dig deeper into the different ways that addiction changes the personality and causes you to be an entirely different person.
1. You lose interest in the things you used to enjoy.
Oftentimes, one of the first signs of a substance use problem is losing interest in the things you used to enjoy. Maybe you used to play sports or read books and you no longer do these things. It takes time to find, use and recover from substances, which means other areas in your life get demoted.
Furthermore, the activities you once enjoyed probably don’t bring you the same satisfaction. This happens because drugs hijack your brain’s reward system, making it difficult to get enjoyment from normal activities. Instead, you rely on drugs or alcohol to make you feel good.
Obviously, not participating in your favorite hobbies and activities causes you to change. Which leads us to our next point: a changing friend group.
2. You’re hanging out with different people.
Unless this is the same social circle that got you started using drugs or alcohol, you’ve probably found some new company to hang around with. The more involved you get with substances, the more you want to hang out with people who have the same interests.
Sadly, the people who love and care about you get pushed away. They might even become a bother to you, as they stand in between you and your drug of choice. Your other ‘friends’ will appear more attractive because they have similar habits to yours and can help get you drugs.
People who abuse drugs or alcohol are not bad people. But, they do not have your best interests at heart. If you decide to go to a drug or alcohol rehab center and get sober, you probably won’t have much in common with them anymore.
3. You become secretive.
Another thing that happens to your personality is that you become more secretive. You don’t want anyone to stop you from using substances, so you end up engaging in secretive behavior that protects you from this. You might lie, become less talkative or get defensive when someone asks you questions.
This is not your fault, as the addiction is causing you to think that drugs and alcohol are your real friends. Anyone who tries to interfere is perceived as a threat. Unfortunately, all this does is wear down your relationships and moves you further away from getting the help you need. It can also put you in danger, as you might engage in risky behavior to obtain drugs.
4. Symptoms of mental illness appear.
Substance use and mental illness go hand in hand. There are several reasons why this is the case, including that people are more likely to self-medicate when they’re suffering from depression or anxiety. Certain factors in the brain can also make a person more susceptible to developing both conditions.
Typically, mental illness happens first, and a person self-medicates with drugs or alcohol. Perhaps you can think back and remember yourself feeling sad, depressed or anxious all the time. Maybe you started drinking so that you could loosen up around others, or you started taking opioids to relax your mind.
Substances alter your brain chemistry and make you feel anxious when you’re not drinking or using drugs. Dual diagnosis treatment is the recommended treatment approach when you have a substance use disorder and mental health disorder.
5. You become emotionally volatile.
Being emotionally volatile happens when your emotions are so intense and overwhelming, you’re unable to control them. To others, it can look like you’re having significant mood swings accompanied with lashing out, yelling and screaming. This is frustrating for everyone involved, including you.
When you abuse drugs or alcohol, the prefrontal cortex in the brain weakens. This area in the brain is responsible for higher functions like self control, planning, attention and emotional regulation. Plus, irritability and aggression can be signs of depression. By treating the underlying mental health problem and getting sober, your brain can begin to heal itself, leading to more stable moods.
Get the ‘Real’ You Back! Start Your Recovery Today!
It’s apparent that substance use has major effects on the personality. You might be a stranger to yourself and others. Fortunately, a complete recovery is possible, you just have to be willing to put in the work. To learn more about starting your journey to lifelong sobriety, contact Pura Vida Recovery today.