When you think about addiction, you probably conjure up an instant picture. Perhaps alcohol comes to mind, or you may picture something darker. The truth, however, is that there are many different types of addiction from which men and women suffer every day. These addictions are experienced by the entire breadth of society, from the charismatic investment banker to the cranky car dealer; the cashier at the store to the college professor. No one is immune to the power of addiction. The key for you when dating and meeting new people is to be on the lookout for anyone who is active in their addiction, and for you to avoid dating that person until he or she gets things under control.
Keep reading and you’ll get a sense of some of the most common addictions that you may encounter in the dating world. If you think that one particular type of addiction is more dangerous or destructive to a relationship, guess again. The hallmark of any addiction is that it will take control of the addict and tear apart their closest relationships. Romantic relationships suffer the most with an addict, because the addiction destroys any sense of trust and reliability.
Sex addicts spend an incredible amount of time seeking out sex or sexual situations. Sex addicts may pursue sex in person, with multiple partners, or they may simply demand it all the time from the same person. Sex addicts also may spend hours online looking at pornography, and will talk about sex frequently.
In recent years, there have been a couple of high-profile celebrities whose gambling addiction has been covered extensively in the media. The positive consequence of this is that it has brought more awareness to gambling addiction as a real and legitimate problem. If you start dating someone who loves to go gambling, uses more money than they have to comfortably gamble, and seems to like gambling a little too much, your date may have an actual addiction.
Illicit drug addiction
Some of the most common drug addictions are addictions to street drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin. However, a person can develop addiction to many other illicit drugs. The good news for those suffering from these addictions is that there are twelve-step groups in nearly every city and town to help treat these problems.
Prescription pill addiction
If only you knew the number of work establishments, high schools, and colleges in which someone is selling prescription pills at this moment for recreational use! If you’re dating someone who casually offers you a prescription pill, you need to seriously explore whether this person has an addiction to prescription pills. Pills are not meant to be passed around like a soda you’d sip from; they can be deadly if they are taken incorrectly or in conjunction with other substances.
One of the best ways to determine if someone has an alcohol addiction is to see how the individual changes when they are intoxicated. Many alcoholics’ moods will change dramatically, where they become sad and tearful, angry and aggressive, or even manic once they reach the “drunk” mark. A good rule of thumb for drinking alcohol when you are of legal age: have a drink or two, but don’t get drunk.
Simple advice: Your job isn’t to be a therapist.
If you suspect that someone you’re dating has a problem, trust your instincts and avoid pursuing a more serious relationship. In this situation, you could play the role of a therapist and try to get that person help, or you could provide him or her with resources or addresses of treatment clinics nearby. However, your job in dating is to find a romantic partner – not to be anyone’s therapist. When you find yourself playing therapist too soon with someone, odds are that you are going to end up unhappy.
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.