How Do You Know If Someone is Addicted To Something…3 Ways To Check

When we consider the world of addictions we often limit our view to just three or four behaviours: alcohol use, illegal or prescription drug use, food consumption problems and more recently internet addictions where our children are at risk as well. There are many things that we can become addicted to such as: pornography, chocolate, gambling, watching violence, media games like ‘Warcraft’ where graphic slaughter is routine and on-line shopping to identify some others.

What follows here is a bit of my history which I mention only to establish some credibility. Prior to my retirement a few years back I had spent a great deal of time learning how to survive my own substance abuse issues which had plagued me for many years. Eventually I earned an opportunity to put my experience and my education to work as an Addiction Counsellor in a local in-patient treatment facility. I did this work for close to 25 years and now I act as a private consultant to those who are not sure if they have an addiction problem or not.

The question I am asked most often from the clients who seek me out is–“I’m not sure if I am an addict or if I am addicted to (????) or not. Can you tell me?” The two questions I ask them in return is “do you really want to know or is this about satisfying a request from family or a partner to get some help?” If you are hearing complaints or concerns from your family and friends this might be an indication that the issue is more important than you are willing to admit.  The other question is “what do YOU think? What has happened recently that has prompted you to seek answers now?” If any of this sounds familiar here are three questions to ask yourself. The answers to these questions will provide you with a much better idea of whether or not you have an addiction problem.

1. Simply look in a mirror and ask yourself if you think there is a possibility that your substance use /behavior is becoming an issue to be concerned about. You can lie to others but you can’t lie to yourself.  What I am suggesting is not easy by the way. Most will try to defend their recent activities even to themselves not wanting to say there may be a problem. If you are defensive and angry or argumentative when asked about your use or behaviour you might want to talk to someone outside your social circle who can provide an unbiased assessment.

2.  Have you thought about switching or changing from wine or liquor to beer or from cannabis to hash for example just to prove that you can stop using a particular substance anytime you choose. If this idea has crossed your mind the possibility certainly exists that you might just be further along the trail than you want to believe.

3. How far are you willing to go to find out if you have an addiction problem? The most daring and radical of the three suggestions is for you to take the 30 challenge-that’s what I call it anyway. In essence you stop taking any form of drug either liquid or solid (not including any medication legally prescribed by a physician) or engaging in any form of behaviour that relates to your initial question or concern. You might ask a good close friend to help you with this. It has to be someone who really does have your best interest at heart and will provide you with honest feedback. YOU have to be sure that you don’t get angry at the friend for the observations he/she makes. Best, if you are a male, to ask a male friend and females need to work with other females. Do your own monitoring as well. During the 30 days you pay attention to things like how often you think about using or engaging in the behaviour that concerns you? How often and under what circumstances do your moods change? Who do you associate with at the time you are craving? Have you become more edgy, anxious, nervous, distant from family and friends lately? Have your sleep patterns change? Have dietary patterns changed? Do you experience an increase or decrease concerning energy levels? Do you feel less interested regarding participating in recreational activities? All of this needs to be recorded daily by you and by your friend so that you can review and compare both reports at the end of thirty days. Are they similar? Ask yourself if you could do another thirty days. Do you want to do another thirty days? Do you feel good being abstinent? It won’t take too long for you to answer these questions if you have been honest. Herein lies the answer to the big question: ‘Do you have a substance use/behavioural problem?’

Personally I don’t believe that substance abuse/behavioural problems, unless they are directly connected to a physiological or chemical source, are the explanation that makes the most sense to me regarding addictions. I don’t believe that it is a disease either. I do believe that people will simply seek a remedy that works the best to deal with whichever discomforts they are faced with. When I understood that I could exercise control over my cravings and behaviour by changing how I thought and by what I did to alleviate the discomfort my life changed most dramatically for the better.

We really can be the authors of our own good fortune.

Anyways, that’s how I see it

All the best, Jim

If you have a desire to connect with me for further comment or info get me at:  OR




How To Design A Human Trainwreck

The formula is a bit complicated, as life tends to be, when speaking of morals and ethics. However, you take equal parts of (Supposed) morals+ ethics +large measure of political correctness=a human train wreck. I have placed ‘supposed’ in brackets because they are never as they are supposed to be. If this isn’t making any sense then I have written it correctly.

The discussion around our ethics and morals always starts out with great interest and enthusiasm and usually ends up in some place a hundred miles from where the conversation started. Perhaps we could start with a simple description of what each is and I promise to stay on topic. Both our ethics and our morals are the rules we choose or try to live by. Our morals, then, represent our personal compass for determining our right/wrong conduct. Our morals are internally driven and are thought to transcend cultural norms. Our ethics represent our rules of conduct to assist a society in determining right/wrong behaviour. These rules are said to be externally driven.  

Now this all sounds simple enough and yet we, as a community of human beings,  have struggled mightily the last 2-3 generations trying to keep our morals and ethics true to their intent. I understand that few things stay static  and there is bound to be some wavering in our thinking around our conduct. Humans want to enjoy more liberty and freedom but at the same time want justice for any grievance done against them. Can’t have that both ways folks.

The legal system has changed it’s interpretations of many of our morals and ethics by their inability to be constant with legal rulings and punishments for breech of conduct. Sometimes its OK to kill somebody if your reason makes sense and the perpetrator can be exonerated or serve little time. On another occasion the same conduct could see the perpetrator be sentenced to 15 years in jail. Other influencing factors regarding the sliding moral and ethical standards that were important to our safety and security not long ago: Who gets to decide when morals and ethics change and change to what? When we witness how our kids go about their business either in school, at home or out in public we see a very different attitude concerning their conduct and what is acceptable. Today almost no behaviour is out of bounds and these new found freedoms are putting others at risk. Society has different views on assisted suicide now, state sponsored capital punishment is almost non-existent and yet it seems to be OK for someone to drive while impaired-kill four people and get 10 years for the trouble. After 2.5 years the driver could be eligible for parole?? Families are actually able to countermand a loved ones will if they don’t like how the estate is divided up. It seems that our youth are thinking less about right or wrong and more about making a point–shootings, stabbings, and preparing to hurt other people on a large scale are becoming more than common place.There isn’t any regard for the sanctity of life now.

The world is changing so rapidly and we are struggling to keep up. It is an exciting time of growth and change but if we don’t get a handle on the rate of change and the impact of the changes we will surely become the victims instead of the beneficiaries. Technology has interfered with this task, a changing legal system has interfered, it seems that the more laws we have or create in order to be all things to all people the more muddy the waters become when trying to stay true to the meaning of morals and ethics. I think that immigration has a role to play here as does multiculturalism and with our efforts to accommodate cultural norms from other places we are paying a price for being ‘nice guys’. I think anyone coming to this country needs to make the effort to assimilate into our society and not the other way around.

Our hedonistic life style, the lack of guidance and consistency coming from parents has become very confusing for our kids and remember they learn what we teach them. Men’s roles, women’s roles and the roles that our children play or are expected to play now is difficult to follow so people just go along with the flow of what is happening around them. Little thought is given to any ethical or moral standards.

I understand that things will change. I get that our lifestyle will change and so will the focus on our lives and our rights. But this doesn’t mean that our values, morals and ethics have to change as well. If anything it should signal that we have to be more careful about how we choose to live our lives and that message needs to go out loud and clear to the next generation of adults. This isn’t the wild west. This is civilization and concern about our neighbours and families and friends is more important now than at any other time. Our morals and ethics will be the determining factors in how the next generation will experience even faster changes in the world we live in.

Anyways, that’s how I see it, Jim

Comments and thoughts are welcome. Please let me know at  OR and consider passing this along to family or friends who might enjoy the read.

Another Week That Was . . .

I must say that I am a bit surprised by the comments I received from folks who read my article this past week (Homeless vs. Immigrant . . . It Shouldn’t Be This Way).  The sentiment seems to be similar to mine in that many people are not anti-anything but rather pro taking care of our own before we extend our Canadian values and support to others. A few said that if this is who we are and what we do then who will care for those of us (meaning homeless Canadians) who need help as well?

Thanks to those who took the time to read my article and many thanks to those who took the time to let me know what and how they were thinking and feeling as well–Jim.

” A Man’s Work Is Never Done . . . ”  in a new format

I am in the midst of creating a new program based on my latest book called  “A Man’s Work Is Never Done . . . A Novel About Mentoring Our Sons”. I’ll  use this Newsletter, Facebook, Linked-in and Twitter to let people know when it is ready to go. People will be able to purchase it through my web site– .  It is based on 6 individual 50 minute podcasts which  I did with Dr. Anne Marie Evers over the last month. We discussed an introduction to the program, topics such as dealing with the challenges of a young man as he transitions from boyhood to manhood, solutions for single moms and dads who struggle with their relationships with their children and will finish with a summary of the over all program and how to utilize the learning points contained within the story line.

Rumor has it that Santa is coming–got shopping to do?

Books are a great gift to give because they aren’t seasonal, they continue to give long after the holiday is passed and the are re-usable. You can even re-gift them to your friends. I still have a few copies of  ‘A Man’s Work Is Never Done:  A Novel About Mentoring Our Sons’  OR  ‘Managing Me . . . 8 Keys To More Passion & Inner Peace’ available. You can purchase them through my web site at  or by connecting with me directly at


This weeks parenting tip: Be a father not a dictator

One of the toughest thing for parents-fathers in this case–to do is to recognize the difference between being a parent-a father-and being a dictator.  Kids don’t want to be told what to do and how to do it all the time. They don’t want to have their ability to think for themselves constantly disregarded either. Our way is not always the right way for our children but if we are too busy trying to protect them by making their every choice for them and ordering them around to keep them safe or mistake free they are sure to rebel. They want a chance to show us what they know. Give it to them.

My music video for this week

This is by Chris Rea who is, in my mind anyway, one of the best musical artists of the last twenty years. He combines story telling with jazz and a great latino beat and uses photography like few others I have seen. I have chosen this video which combines the lyrics so that after you have played it a few times you can sing along–its fun-trust me–Enjoy–JIm


Anyways, that’s all I got for this week. Connect with me by e-mail if you like or have any comments. You can get me at (contact page)  OR 


It’s Free To Our Children But Priceless Concerning The Giver: What Is It?

Grandparents With Family

“I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots”–Albert Einstein

I doubt most folks have any idea of what ‘it’is. It is not a new gadget or piece of technology. Actually it is only found in people who are about 60 years old and older. It is not generated by a computer and computers can’t make it. It isn’t taught in schools but kids could benefit immensely from this and it is free to them. It is, arguably, one of the most important things that many kids of this day lack. The giver, however, spent a lifetime gathering this and in so many instances it has been found to go beyond any stated or quantified value. It is truly priceless.

‘It’ is knowledge, information and experience.

It is true that computers have done much to add to science, space travel, medicine, education, architecture and design and so on. The list is very long and very impressive. What I suggest is this: While computers have changed our lives dramatically they have also, inadvertently, created less need for what we used to call human interaction. Life has sped up considerably and many are having a hard time keeping up. Along with this diminished need for human interaction we don’t have time for the age old practice of sharing wisdom and insight through conversation. This sharing was often referred to as the ultimate education.

Grandparents, who are our true teachers, used to be treated with reverence and respect for what they had experienced and for what they had survived. Many of our 20th century cultures revered their elders and respected their wisdom. Our elders knew and understood how to live in harmony with others. They understood the unwritten guidelines that kept us functioning as a large community. Today we seem to lack that same clarity and our vision has changed. Interestingly enough that has been coincidental with the lack of respect paid older folks and the messages they bring from another time. Where their words meant much they mean little today. Families don’t seem to have the time to spend with their elders anymore. More than many are in a rush to put good old dad or mom or both in nice comfortable homes for their own good. They tell us that it is in our best interests and that we can be with others of like circumstances. We are not seen or known for our learned wisdoms and our experiences are no longer sought or valued.

The seniors of this day understand the intricacies and the nuances of human life and what it is like to love, to hurt, to witness joy. They get the inner value of rolling up your sleeves and hard work. They learned how to adapt to an ever changing world filled with hardship because they had to or perish. They know about the lessons connected to being successful or not being successful and how to deal with disappointment. They didn’t run to the doctor’s office looking for a script. They learned how to deal with this stuff. They internalized the idea that you had to work and sacrifice for all you wanted and needed but the rewards were great and built character. They didn’t trade their future for their want in the present. They are the living proof that human beings can survive almost anything including loss and tragedy which are part of life. Todays’ computer cannot help us with these events because it cannot feel.

As important as seniors are we are allowing them to slip away from us in the trade off that is called progress. Parents used to live with their families in their retirement. They could share their wisdom with grand kids around the dinner table and on the porch. Now families don’t invite mom and dad or grandma and grandpa to come live with them-at least not often. Not many have time for us now. Not only have we become irrelevant but so has our message and so we are placed with other ‘old’ people in assisted living communities. The tragedy to that is all our knowledge,information and insights we have gained are never shared with those who need them the most. Those would be our grandchildren. They have become or are in the process of becoming Einstein’s greatest fear and concern–‘a generation of idiots’. Granted many of our grandchildren have become extremely good at utilizing their technological skills but that’s a one-trick pony. Outside of that realm they seem to demonstrate little in terms of ‘living in community and harmony’ with others. I believe that is what Einstein meant when he spoke about ‘idiots’. They are not stupid but rather ill-informed and ill-prepared to live amongst their peers in harmony and a sense of community.

Computers and technology have enriched our lives. We have built amazing things and discovered many more. But in doing so they have created a society that requires or encourages less human interaction. At a time when so many of our kids are struggling with hopelessness, fear, depression, suicidal ideation and a lack of direction regarding their futures I would think that this information and potential leadership would be sorely needed and sought after. I am concerned that this oversight will cost us much if we don’t tap into the treasure chest that is filled with our seniors experience. Our children need to re-evaluate the importance of learning what we seniors know about life and living. This is the stuff that can’t be taught in schools. It is up to our children to help our grand children understand that not everything of value comes out of a box that has no soul. These are the important messages and lessons concerning life and what it is all about. The circle of life isn’t about stages we go through. It is about the decisions we make to pass on the knowledge we have gained so that the next generation can benefit and do the same for their kids. This is the circle of life as I understand it and it is or can be infinite.

Anyways,that’s how I see it–Jim

Comments are always welcome pro or con. You can connect with me by email at:
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Author Jim Cloughley's 
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