This Is How Addiction Is Like A Split Personality

Denni Van Huis

Addiction sucks. And it doesn’t just suck for the addict but it sucks for everyone involved. It robs so many amazing people of happiness and replaces it with destruction and chaos.

It’s mind boggling how addiction changes people from one side of the coin to the other. The sudden and drastic change in behavior is astonishing. It’s as if the addict has a split personality but only when their poison of choice is no longer a choice.

So many people have this preconceived notion of what addiction looks like. Usually it involves the withdrawals and craving people experience without the substance or act. What many people fail to recognize or see is in addiction is the shift in behaviors and the way they act while intoxicated.

People also forget the subtle clues that serve as precursors to addiction. Addiction is not all about what you see in the movies and Hollywood rarely does a good job portraying addiction as well as the subtle way addiction can present itself.

This one guy in my life was the first person to ever really show me how someone can go from amazing to shit in less than a minute. Sober, this man was the most gentle and caring person and once alcohol entered his body, he became aggressive, hostile and selfish. He would act inappropriately and carelessly as long as he was getting what he wanted and needed…alcohol.

When he is sober, he is kind and warm-hearted. He’ll give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He would put others before himself because he has a selfless nature.

He will ask how I’m doing or how class is going. We will have deep and meaningful conversations. He he listens to me and validates me. He doesn’t cut me off or act as if what I’m saying means nothing. He’s attentive and protective of me and my feelings. I can’t say the same about the other personality…the intoxicated side.

While drinking, he becomes angry and volatile. He wouldn’t care who he hurt or who he stepped over to get what he wanted. He just couldn’t stop once he started. And damn you if you tried to stop him. He would do the opposite of stopping with a big “fuck you” in your face.

One night, I asked him to stop drinking numerous times throughout the night. The last time I asked him to stop drinking, he took a half full pitcher of beer and chugged it in my face. After that in the same evening, he told me he was going to close his tab and I waited until I knew something was up and found him taking shots at the bar. It was as if I was nonexistent to him…like I was unimportant and insignificant.

It wasn’t until seeing him like this a few times that I realized what addiction looked like without the obvious signs and symptoms. The lies addicts tell to either get what they want or to avoid confrontation is centered around one theme…selfishness. I believe selfishness is one of the subtle signs of addiction that many don’t understand or know about.

It’s not all about cravings or withdrawals like movies so often portray addiction. Many people would probably think the guy in my life was just drunk and he’ll be fine after he sleeps it off. People say this because he doesn’t drink everyday nor does he experience withdrawals or cravings. What people don’t understand is this amazing and loving person is unrecognizable. It’s almost as if I was introduced to 2 totally different people.

You don’t have to use a substance or engage in some behavior everyday in order for you to have an addiction. Not many people address the behavioral factors of addiction and how such a drastic change in one’s character can indicate a problem or addiction in someone when they use and when they’re sober.

I’ve lost many people I was close with to addiction. I don’t think the topic of addiction is discussed enough and I believe it’s always taking a back seat to some other “bigger issue”. Alcohol kills approximately 2.5 million Americans per year.

Drug overdoses killed more Americans in 2016 than people killed in the Vietnam War which roughly killed over 58,000 US soldiers. How much bigger does addiction need to get in order for people to consider it important?

Addiction is a conversation we all need to get comfortable talking about in order for us to create an implement appropriate plans and policies that help rather than kill. There’s hot debate between whether or not addiction is a choice or not. It’s not. Addiction is considered to be a brain disease in which exposure to extended use of a substance physically changes caused addictive behavior. 

Addiction is not a choice. Addiction kills. Please be part of the change and solutions to helping those with addiction. Spread the word. You could possibly change someone’s life if not many lives. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Licensed professional therapist and certified rehabilitation counselor

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