Nine signs that someone you love could be battling an addiction
As one half of Britain's most-loved double act presenter Ant McPartlin seemed to be living a charmed life, at least to those outside the bubble.
Which is exactly why news that McPartlin had admitted himself into a rehabilitation programme to tackle addictions to alcohol and prescription painkiller Tramadol came as such a shock to long-time fans across Ireland and the UK.
Speaking to The Sun, the star (41) admitted that he wept as he told his wife of the addictions he had been concealing for many months, and apologised to the public.
"I feel like I have let a lot of people down and for that I’m truly sorry," he said.
The star admitted his struggles were impacting his work, his relationship with wife Lisa and also his mental health, opening up about his battle with depression.
While the headlines may have shocked, it is not untypical of an addict to admit they are struggling only after a number of consequences come to a head, says Maebh Leahy, CEO of the Rutland Centre, Ireland's largest private addiction rehabilitation centre.
"Unfortunately in many circumstances, those struggling with addiction will get to a critical point before they admit they have a problem and that they need help."
Of course, there is no one sign that indicates a problem with addiction, but certainly changing patterns and behaviours can be signals that someone close to you may be struggling.
"A pattern of changes taking place can often suggest that someone is struggling with addiction. One of these things might not mean anything, but put them together, three, or four of them, they can indicate that someone you love has a problem."
Eight Signs Someone May Be Struggling with Addiction
Preoccupation with the addictive behaviour
One of the main indicators that a person may be struggling with an addiction is a preoccupation with a substance or an activity. Addicts constantly think about how to get their next high, be it from alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex.
"For example, if someone you work with is counting down the hours until 5PM, thinking about when they can get a glass of wine or go to the pub, that is preoccupation," says Maebh.
"A person who is struggling with addiction might become annoyed if, say, they have to work late, or are delayed because everything revolves around getting that hit, for want of a better word. An addict will set aside periods of time specifically for addictive behaviour."
Withdrawing from intimate relationships
A person struggling with addiction will often create a distance between themselves and their family and friends, as they can feel like their addictive behaviour is unacceptable within their social circles. Intimate relationships often suffer as addicts withdraw from social situations and friendships.
Maebh says: "Addicts are focused on a new relationship - they are focused on the next drink, the next drug, the next bet."
"While the breakdown of a romantic relationship is not necessarily a sign that someone is an addict, for many people it is a common consequence of addictive behaviour."
Addicts can forge new relationships with others involved in addictive behaviour. A sign that someone may be struggling with addiction could be that they are hanging out with a new crowd - a social circle where they feel their addictive behaviour is more accepted.
"A person struggling with addiction might feel shame and guilt about their drinking, for example, and might form new relationships where the addictive behaviour is more acceptable," says Maebh.
Those dealing with a drug or alcohol addiction can often find themselves struggling to keep a hold on their responsibities. A decline in work performance can indicate an addiction. If a parent begins neglecting their children, or skipping out on commitments they previously were interested in, it can be a sign that something deeper is going on.
If a loved one has become uncharacteristically secretive or evasive about their finances or their whereabouts, it can be an indicator of an addiction.
Maebh says:"Lying and secrecy are both very much related to any addiction. For an alcoholic, we all have this stereotypical image of empty bottles hidden at the back of the hot press, but for an addict concealing and hiding is a means of continuing their addictive behaviour."
Those struggling with addiction often act dishonestly. A prime example is taking money from loved ones, friends or employers, to fund addictive behaviour.
Using alcohol or drugs to de-stress
Many of us have a glass of wine after a particularly stressful day, but if a person is using alcohol as a way to relax or de-stress regularly it can be a sign that there is something deeper going on. Getting drunk after every stressful day, or falling back onto alcohol after an argument can indicate addictive behaviour.
Anxiety around their phone
If a person is possessive of their phone or laptop, it could be a sign that they could be struggling with an addiction. Gambling addicts in particular often spend a lot of time on their devices, as they are continuously chasing losses. Online avenues for gambling are making it easier than ever before.
"Alcohol remains the number one addiction we deal with in the Rutland Centre, but we are seeing a consistent growth in those dealing with gambling addictions. The huge majority of these would be men, many in their twenties and thirties."
Highs and lows are experienced by many addicts by nature, as they shuffle between their addictive behaviour and anticipate the next opportunity they will have to drink, abuse drugs, or gamble among other things. For gamblers in particular, severe mood swings can indicate a problem.
Maebh says, "For gambling addicts there is a huge shift between the endorphin rush of winning and the lows of losing and such shifts in mood can be indicative of a problem."
Significant weight loss or weight gain can be a sign of drug or alcohol addiction. A disinterest or a decline in hygiene, or a recent lack of interest in appearance could also be a sign.
Mental health conditions like anxiety and depression affect many addicts. A preoccupation with addictive behaviour can mean that some addicts suffer from insomnia, which impacts other areas of their lives.
Maebh says: "Addiction can be a huge burden on a family and an extremely stressful period. At the Rutland Centre, family has always been a cornerstone of what we do, and I would encourage anyone who is worried about a loved one to get in touch with us here."
If you are worried about your loved one or colleague and are seeking advice, visit www.rutlandcentre.ie. The centre holds regular, free family advice and support sessions.