Don’t let addiction control you. Overcoming addiction requires understanding what it is and how it affects you
I saw a bumper sticker on a flashy sports car that said, “I’m not addicted to coffee; we’re just in a committed relationship!” You could remove coffee from that statement and fill it in with almost anything People with addictions are in a committed relationship with drugs, alcohol, tobacco, diet coke, video games, gambling, the internet, pornography, working out, or even cosmetic surgery. I am sure you could list lots more. Truly, anyone can be addicted to almost anything. Of course, there are things you truly cannot go without like breathing, sleeping, and eating; I guess we're all addicted to those.
The professional journal Psychology Today states, “Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance or engages in an activity that can be pleasurable but the continuation of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships, or health.” People who have developed an addiction may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.”
Much research today concludes that there may actually be a genetic predisposition for addiction, an inherited trait, possibly even an addictive personality. I personally have alcohol, drug, and nicotine addiction in my family; who knows I could possibly be an alcoholic, but I will never know if I never take that first drink. Most addiction begins with a small amount and as time goes by the person develops a tolerance, requiring more of the substance or activity to bring about the same desired response. Nobody starts off thinking they're going to end up an addict. We have all witnessed addictions change the entire course of someone’s life, destroying dreams, and erasing potential. Tragically, addiction is not a spectator sport; sooner or later it will involve the person's whole family and closest friends. Rarely, and I mean extremely rarely, can a chronically habituated, genuinely addicted person successfully get over their problem alone; it takes support, and quite often professional direction. There is a psychology and a physiology to every unhealthy dependence. Counter-intuitively, the physical dependence is usually the easier to get over. The psychological habituation is more difficult to identify and get at and may become a lifelong emotional ball and chain, threatening to flare-up again whenever stress or pressure becomes uncomfortable.
It's not hard to notice that many, particularly of the younger generation, have become prisoners of their mobile phones, maybe that’s why they call them “cell” phones. The point is, that no matter how innocent, pleasurable, or even good a substance or activity is on the surface, if it interferes with or sabotages responsibilities, routines, or relationships, it has crossed the line from healthy into addiction. Ask yourself the question, do you use it or does it use you? I’ve witnessed video game addictions break up loving, long-term marriages; gambling devastate families; selfies wreck reputations; substances originally designed to be part of a medical treatment plan for an injury destroy careers; social drinking land a person in financial ruin, jail, or even in the cemetery. The journey from healthy to habit to addiction can be a slippery one. If you cannot be objective in your own particular case, ask your closest friends or loved ones to be honest if they feel your pleasure has turned into an addiction. That’s a pretty bold and dangerous question, but it may be very revealing. If you discover that you have become compulsively dependent on something, and that it is controlling you instead of you controlling it, what do you do?
1 – Avoid the offender – Alcoholics should stay out of bars and avoid places where alcohol is available. Video game addicts should get outdoors more or at least put definite limits on their playing time. If junk food is the addiction, don’t stock it in your kitchen or pantry.
2 – Substitute something in place of the offender – When struggling with the urge to indulge replace it. If you want a cigarette; chew gum, play with a toothpick, take a short walk, or drop down and do some push-ups until the temptation or need passes. Use wisdom, and stay in control; you don't want to just switch your addiction for another one.
3 – Get help: If you find you just can't break the cycle on your own, get some support. There are experts who can guide you through the minefield, whether it requires just counseling, a 12-step program, or a residential addiction recovery facility. The strength of the approach needs to match the power of the addiction.
Do not be afraid to talk to someone about your addiction. Vocalizing the weakness is the first step toward controlling it instead of letting it control you. Don't be in denial like the desperate person who said, “I'm not addicted to Facebook, I just use it when I have the time; like lunch time, dinner time, this time, that time, all the time.”
Get help. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
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