The behavior of addicted people is the most visible part of addiction and thus the easiest to focus attention on. Addictive behavior such as addictively overspending, compulsively going to pornographic bookstores, and bingeing on and purging food regularly occurs only after the development of the addictive personality. These behaviors are all signs that the person is out of control on an internal level. As the addiction develops, the person also becomes out of control on a behavioral level.
In the early stages of addiction, the addicted person is able to contain addiction to the degree that there are few episodes of being behaviorally out of control. Gradually these episodes become more and more frequent, as the person becomes much more preoccupied with the object or event. It is in this stage that others start to notice that something is wrong or abnormal. Others start to see the presence of the Addict.
At first the addict was able to behave largely within socially acceptable limits. The addictive gambler gambled mostly within acceptable limits; the food addict ate mostly within normal limits; the alcoholic drank socially most of the time. But inside all of these people, there starts to develop a deep and totally consuming mental dependency.
In the development of the behavioral dependency, a person starts to act out their addictive belief system in a ritualistic manner, and the person's behavior becomes more and more out of control. Once an addictive personality has established control emotionally and mentally, the person becomes dependent on the addictive personality, not on the mood change or the object or event. The addictive belief system itself becomes the addict's foundation, and it develops into a lifestyle.
It is in this stage of the addictive cycle that addicts start to arrange their lives and relationships using addictive logic to guide them. Their behavioral commitment to the addictive process becomes all-encompassing.
There are many ways a person's behavior adapts to the addictive process, bringing about an addictive lifestyle. Betrayal of Self and others becomes a regular occurrence:
The person starts to lie to others, even when it is easier to tell the truth.
The person starts to blame others, knowing others are not to blame.
The person starts to ritualize his or her behavior.
The person starts to withdraw from others.
Not only will the person have a secret world to withdraw to emotionally and mentally, but also a physical secret world in which he or she lives out an addictive lifestyle:
It is in this stage that food addicts may start hiding or starving themselves.
It is in this stage that sex addicts may start going to prostitutes or having multiple affairs.
It is in this stage that addictive gamblers may open secret bank accounts or get secret jobs.
It is in this stage that alcoholics may begin to have a couple of quick shots and a few breath mints before going home.
Each of these examples shows a behavioral commitment to the addictive process. Each time people act out in these ways, they are depending more on the addictive process and its logic and less on themselves and others who love them.
Addicts must make sense of this to themselves, and they do so by denying the fear and pain caused by their inappropriate behavior. This is where the addict turns to denial, repression, lies, rationalizations, and other defenses to help cope with what is happening.
Thus, whenever addicts act out and then explain their actions away, they unintentionally deepen their commitment to addiction. Whenever addicts act out, they must emotionally and mentally withdraw into the addictive personality to receive support for acting out. This inward motion isolates them from the world and others around them, causing them to lose more of their humanity. This creates loneliness and a longing to reach out and connect, which internally becomes another signal to act out.
This addictive process has the power and ability to create a need for itself. Through repeated acting out combined with mental obsession, another form of commitment to the Addict will now steadily establish more and more control. The behavioral loss of control is an expression of the internal loss of control by the Self to the Addict.
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