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The Red Flags of Addictive Behaviour

“Everyone around you can see it, but you can’t see it” – Dr Mark Atkinson

Addiction can often distort your perception on what is normal.

It was my shout for drinks, and as I made the round trip to the bar, I reminded myself that we were only having a quiet one tonight, although my internal distortion wanted more. Upon ordering a couple of ice-cold beers, I also secretly ordered a nice little entrée for myself, a shot of Sambuca, all well knowing that when it comes to booze, a quiet one is never on the table.

This sort of sneaky repertoire when it came to alcohol was fairly normal for me, and it started as early as my teenage years, where I would sneak shots from my liquor cabinet at home. When it comes to alcohol, my life has always been semi-distorted. I would always do things that, to me, were pretty normal, but in reality, was actually a form of deep-seated addiction. Although, at times, I had a feeling at the back of my mind that I didn’t really have a grasp on this whole drinking thing, my mind would always create a rationale.

The reality is, addiction can have a powerful grasp on our lives, to the point where it completely distorts our perception of what we think is normal. This is why I put together a list of Hallmarks of “Red Flags” to help individuals really break the mould on addiction.

The Red Flags of Addiction

Ask yourself some of these questions, beginning with “Do I compulsively perform an action or take something that…

  1. Becomes out of control or gets more out of control as time goes by?
  2. You do in secrecy, or you hide, distort or downplay your addictive habits to others?
  3. Is accompanied by an immediate wave or shame or extreme guilt?
  4. Creates distance from relationship(s) and/or your workplace?
  5. Becomes more prioritised than your usual day to day responsibilities?
  6. Heavily distorts your reality?
  7. You think about often, and sometimes not thinking about it can be unbearable?
  8. Consumes all of your energy and focus?
  9. Makes you feel like you have no other choice to stop?

Addiction is a disease of denial and minimisation.

First and foremost, Addiction is a disease of denial and minimisation, now you might be thinking, disease? really? yes really, but to explain why, we first need to unpack the meaning of the word disease.

In the Oxford dictionary, disease is described as a disorder, a malfunctioning of the body or an abnormal condition that interferes with physiological processes, a sickness or illness. This description is an incorrect definition of disease as it relates to addiction. Looking deeper towards the origin of the word disease, old french latin better describes it as a state of Dis-ease, an absence of ease or an impediment of ease physically, mentally and spiritually. This is the correct definition of disease and the true meaning as to how it relates to addiction.


Our defense mechanism that’s executing IF THEN commands, incorrect brain wiring that’s denying the existence of problems or reality.

It is an unconscious process that begins to run in the background, I call it incorrect wiring of the brain that runs various brain-rationalised algorithms to execute various commands, just like a computer would. This process becomes autonomous and more and more hardwired, and begins to take such forms as the refusal or “denial” of a personal problem, emotional conflict, or you guessed it, an addiction that’s out of control. 


The cognitive distorter that’s distorting our stories and downplaying various scenarios to our self and others, distorting our own reality away from the truth.

It creates our tendencies to present events to oneself or others as insignificant or unimportant, often being unclear or nonspecific. Minimisation is the body’s way of creating cognitive distortion. Let’s say you’re describing a problem to someone, your body’s cognitive distorter (minimisation) may paint a problem in a little more disjointed matter, you may downplay various parts, and not really give a complete picture. 

With disease, denial and minimisation covered, you should now have a baseline understanding of what addiction looks like, we now have to come to terms with it. The first challenge is overriding the incorrect coding of denial and first admitting you have a problem. The second challenge is resetting the distortion of minimisation, making the addiction known to yourself, others and setting out in the light. It’s important that not only you are aware of the problem, but also your loved ones. You must begin to build strong foundations, gather support from social communities and strengthen connections with others. If you’re constantly socially isolated while going through this, it will make it substantially harder to overcome

Where do I go from here?

Firstly, and the most hardest step is wanting to stop, taking control of your cravings, and seeking help.

Eliminate cravings for good.
Get help and burn the bridges.

Stephen Brumwell

My name is Stephen Brumwell and i’m a Former Drinker, meaning, I use to drink alcohol, and now I do not. Alcohol use to be a big part of my life, and since I finally made the decision to kick it to the curb for good, I have never looked back. In this world, where alcohol is considered a social norm, ditching booze is like finding the holy grail, as if once you started, the ball and chain was shackled to your leg for good.

I am here to tell you, this isn’t true.

I have battled with alcohol addiction almost my entire adult life, and it has shaped who I am today, physically, mentally and spiritually. On one side, alcohol destroyed my life, dragged me through absolute garbage, taking hostages along the way, until the flicker of light was almost out. On the other side, it created who I am today, shaped my values, directed my purpose and made me a stronger, more resilient individual.

In my life, alcohol was a beast that sat in the background, like a deep dark beast laying dormant waiting to strike. From an early adult age, it was already slapping on my dopamine receptors, and by my late 20s, blackouts, hospital visits and time off work from 5 day drinking benders became the normal weekly routine. It took me a while to quit, and I still truely believe you have to want to quit, to quit, and an ultimatum or true “rock-bottom” moment can do this.

 My ultimatum came from multiple rock bottom benders, feeling like absolute shit countless times, depleted, and deflated. I fast-forwarded the tape in my head, I would never get married, build my own house, have a beautiful baby boy, and i’d probably be the worst nutritionist on the planet. Alcohol had to go, and towards the end of 2018, it went for good.

From here on, Clarity was born, and my eventual goal of helping others with addiction became my long-term vision in my head. , I listened to countless podcasts, while Clarity purred softly in the background, waiting for the right time.

From here on, Clarity Natural Health was born, and I shoved myself into doing consults to make peoples lives better, although, it never felt right. In the meantime, I put the wheels into motion, pulled from my previous experiences of being hungover as all hell, dived deep into the literature, and started writing a book. While Clarity Natural Health purred in the background, I was better understanding the nature of addiction, tapping away at my keyboard writing what I really wanted to do, help addicts become addictless.

At the end of 2020, The real Clarity was born, with a true vision to help people live an addiction free life, without limits.

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