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The Exhausted Woman
with Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC

20 Indications of an Addict

Angel came into counseling knowing that something was wrong, but not knowing what it was. After being married to his wife for seven years he noticed she had become more secretive and distant. Money from their savings account was missing and unaccounted for, his wife would disappear frustrated and return weirdly happy, and she seemed to get angry very easily over insignificant matters.

At first, he thought she was having an affair. But after digging through her phone and viewing her locations, he was quickly able to rule that out. So, he sought the advice of a therapist to try and help himself understand what was happening. Often when a spouse is hiding the severity of an addiction, the only evidence of it is the way they talk about it. An addict lies to themselves and others in order to justify continuing in their addiction. Here are some examples of addict speak that may help you catch on to a worsening addiction.

  1. “It’s not that bad.”At the first sign of confrontation, an addict will minimize their addiction by claiming it isn’t that bad. They might even mention they were far worse in the past and that there’s less need for concern now than there was before.
  2. “I only use it occasionally.”Instead of flatly denying the abuse of a substance, an addict will admit to far less than what they are doing. The general rule of thumb is that an addict admits to less than half of their actual usage when they do admit to it at all.
  3. “I can’t deal with my problems without it.”The irony of this statement is that the addict begins to look for reasons to use their drug of choice. They might even create unnecessary problems to support it and use those situations to convince you their vice is necessary.
  4. “I can stop whenever I want to.”To keep from thinking they are addicted, an addict will deceive themselves into believing that they can stop at any time. They might even go for a short period of time to prove it, but it is only temporary and can often lead to a dangerous binge.
  5. “I’m not like … he/she is worse.”By comparing themselves to others, the addict can minimize the effects of the addiction while highlighting the severity of another person. This tactic is meant to redirect you, so you are less focused on their usage.
  6. “I’m different than …”Again, the addict picks another addict that is strongly disliked and says they are not like them. This comparison might even be accurate, but it doesn’t diminish the reality of the addiction.
  7. “Everyone else does it.”This is a more significant comparison where the addict claims that everyone they know does the exact same thing and therefore, they can’t have an addiction. It is a type of groupthink.
  8. “This is my thing, not yours.”Addicts tend to become weirdly possessive of their drug of choice. It is an affair of sorts where they are uniquely connected to the substance. This can mean in some situations that they will become jealous or aggressive if you attempt to get involved.
  9. “Life without it is boring.”This statement is further evidence of a substance affair. The addict sees life a dull and meaningless without the use of the substance, and uses that to justify why they need it.
  10. “I just like how it feels.”True addicts develop a personal relationship with their substance and assign properties to it as if it was a human. The substance can generate feelings within the addict and deepen this emotional affair.
  11. “I can’t be social without it.” A common belief is that the addict is unable to engage in society or with family and friends without the use of the substance. The more they use, the worse this becomes, and the harder it will be for them to function in social environments.
  12. “If everyone is, I have to too.” The addict will claim that everyone else does it and therefore they have to too as if there were no other options. This is especially true in work environments where substance usage is encouraged. It is a little different than the “Everyone else does it,” excuse, because in this instance they are claiming that they had no choice in the matter and were forced into the behavior.
  13. “I need it to be creative.” This lie actually gives the substance credit for the addict’s creativity instead of the person doing the task.
  14. “I need it to relax.”Instead of dealing with stress and anxiety, the addict covers it up with their substance usage. But the problem that brought on the stress still remains after the substance wears off.
  15. “You are trying to take away my fun.”As soon as the addict receives some resistance from others for using, they resort to believing that everyone is trying to keep them from enjoying life.
  16. “It makes me a better person.”To justify their usage, addicts will say that without the substance they are more angry, frustrated, anxious, depressed, and/or bitter. Often, that is not the actual case, and aggression is only reinforced by the addiction.
  17. “It hasn’t changed me.”The contrast to the previous statement is that the substance doesn’t have any effect on the abuser. In reality, the worse the addiction, the more dramatic the personality changes.
  18. “I’m not hurting you.”After being confronted, an addict will minimize the effects of their addiction by claiming that they are not doing any harm to others. Even in situations where this may be true, the harm they are doing to themselves in no less dangerous.
  19. “I’m still working, so it’s not that bad.”To prove they are not addicted, an addict will use their ability to continue with work as justification. Many addicts are functioning addicts meaning that they are able to function during the day.
  20. “The kids don’t know, so it’s okay.”Another common lie is the belief that kids won’t notice the addiction. Unfortunately, many kids – especially at a young age – are very observant and are learning by mimicking the behaviors of their parents, meaning that any level of addiction could be putting a child at risk.

After reviewing this list, Angel realized that his wife frequently said all of these statements. He decided to stage an intervention to confront his wife and get her the help she needed for recovery. Approaching an addict about their behavior can be a daunting and emotionally exhausting task. While this list may help you identify the characteristics of an addict, seek professional help if you are unsure about how to confront someone or don’t know what the best next step for everyone involved may be.

20 Indications of an Addict

Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC

Christine Hammond is a leading mental health influencer, author, and guest speaker. As an author of the award-winning “The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook,” and more than 500 articles, Christine has more than one million people downloading her podcast “Understanding Today’s Narcissist,” and more than 400,000 views on YouTube. Her practice specializes in treating families of abuse, and trauma, with personality disorders involved which are based on her own personal experience. Her new book, Abuse Exposed: Identifying Family Secrets that Breed Dysfunction will be published in 2020. Christine is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Qualified Supervisor by the State of Florida, a National Certified Counselor, Certified Family Trauma Professional, with extensive training in crisis intervention and peaceful resolution. Based in Orlando, you may connect with Christine at Grow with Christine (


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APA Reference
Hammond, C. (2020). 20 Indications of an Addict. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2020, from