There are many definitions of addiction out there. The one that I prefer is this: if you are doing something that you know is hurting you, either physically or emotionally, and you just can’t stop doing it, then you have to consider whether you are addicted to it.
This can apply to many things. Obvious examples include drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. It also applies to pornography, social media, gaming, over eating, and gambling. Surprisingly to many, it also applies to working, money, and power. Anything that makes you feel good, in any way, can be addictive.
Many people think that addiction only affects those who are weak, impressionable, lazy, or otherwise not like the person making this assertion. The reality is that we are all susceptible to addiction. The thing that makes us so adaptable also makes us hardwired for addiction. Our adaptability makes anything enjoyable fade in intensity the more we do it – this is called tolerance. When we get used to it, we want more. Eventually we increase it so much that ‘side effects’ start harming us. At this point, if we cannot stop despite knowing it is harming us, then it is likely that we are addicted.
You may start hiding in the comfort of your addiction to escape the reality of your life being turned upside down by the addiction. As things get worse, and it can always get worse, it gets harder to stop.
Most people stop early in this process, for one reason or another. A good support system of friends and family helps immensely. Alternatives to the addiction, like hobbies, help too. Balance is key.
Unfortunately some people are more susceptible to addictions than others, for many reasons. Poor supports, especially while growing up, and trauma are very common. In these cases, therapy for the underlying issue is essential, as it is likely the root cause of not being able to manage our natural addictive tendencies.
CAGE Questionnaire for Addiction
A simple way to approach the concern of addiction is the CAGE questionnaire. Although it is a bit dated, and much more simplified than a full assessment by a professional, it is a private way to explore the issue. But you need to be honest with yourself.
C – Have you ever felt the need to Cut down your behaviour?
A – Do you ever get Angry when someone tells you that you have a problem?
G – Do you ever feel Guilt about your behaviour or its effects?
E – Have you ever needed an Eye opener?
Although the last one (Eye opener) is a bit of a stretch, these questions can be applied to almost anything. The questionnaire remains the same.
This is just an introduction to addictions, and I will post more later. If you feel you may be addicted to anything, and cannot stop by yourself, please see a professional.