When we hear the term ‘Addiction’ the mental image we conjure is that of someone who is addicted to alcohol or indulges in drug abuse. However, here is a surprising fact for you – addiction isn’t always that sinister or dark. But addiction is always serious and needs to be addressed.
It could be something harmless like an over-indulgence in buying shoes, spending half your day on social media sites, shopping excessively, buying books without much thought, not being able to control the craving for an extra slice of pie, the need to always be perfectly tanned, or things more serious like eating painkillers without recognizing the after-effects, or refilling your wine goblet a little too often and not knowing when to stop.
Now you might think why I am using a term like ‘Addiction’ and trying to brand anyone who has an inclination towards doing anything ‘excessively’ as an addict. I am not. Here is the medical definition of addiction:
“Habitual psychological and physiological dependence on any substance or practice beyond one’s voluntary control”
So you see; sometimes your obsession for shoes, tanning, sugar, surfing the internet, chewing gum or even to workout excessively can actually be ‘addiction’. We live in a world where everyone is addicted to something or the other. Some people are addicted to their work, others to shopping, while some of us are addicted to video games. It all seems harmless. But is it really?
Why Addiction Must Be Addressed?
Addiction is never harmless. Sure, buying too many handbags or playing too many video games might not be detrimental to your physical health, but what about your emotional and mental health? Most of us don’t even realize we are addicted to a thing. We over-indulge in a habit because it gives us the perfect excuse to hide our pain, anger, frustrations and fear. You repeatedly depend on an activity because it helps you ‘feel better’, even if momentarily. And it isn’t until your spouse or a friend points out that you have 6 pairs of identical black heels in your closet or 3 copies of the same book/game displayed in your collection that you realize you even have a problem.
Why is that? Probably because you had a moment of weakness and instead of trying to address the problem and solve it rationally, you chose to indulge in something you enjoy and pretend everything was fine? Or probably because you couldn’t consciously stop yourself for wanting to surf the net for an hour longer, or to buy yet another pair of black trousers because you convinced yourself that you were ‘getting a great deal and you’d be a fool to not make the most of it’?
Your addiction might not be a social taboo, but if it is a habit you are over dependent on and just cannot seem to escape, you need to open your eyes and accept that you have a problem.
Signs That You Might be Addicted
Now since we are talking about addiction in general, it can be hard to pin-point sure shot signs that you have a problem. Believe it or not, addiction comes in many shapes, sizes and forms. Some people are addicted to shopping and MUST buy something every time they step out (I am one of such people, currently trying to work upon my addiction), others could be addicted to surfing the net, their smartphone, sugar, tattoos and piercings, work, sex, exercise, video games, music, and even something as insignificant as lip balm. The list is endless, but there are some signs that can tell you whether your obsession with a thing is bordering on addiction.
– You find yourself unable to control the habit. You know you probably shouldn’t indulge as much, yet you manage to find an excuse to.
– You feel a certain sense of remorse or guilt after you indulge in your obsessions. You could probably afford it, yet you get a feeling that you probably shouldn’t have afterwards.
– You try and hide the amount of time and money you spend on your obsession from your loved ones. You don’t want to explain why you need another tanning session when you look perfectly fine, or need to surf the net at 3am. And so you resort to lying, taking the risk that you could be driving a wedge in relationships that are important to you.
– You turn to your indulgences in moments of stress. If you don’t want to deal with the situation, your mind automatically sends you a signal that you should probably play a video game, surf the net, or go shopping for just an hour so that you can ‘escape’ from the reality and feel better.
– Some addictions come with money troubles. If you have ever been tempted to buy a pair of shoes knowing fully well that by doing so you might not be able to make this month’s rent, and yet needed a lot of self-convincing to let them go or worse, actually bought the shoes and borrowed money for rent from your mom, you have a SERIOUS problem. The same goes for your tanning bills, video games bills, books receipts and internet bills. Take a long hard look. Are you spending more than what can be considered ‘normal’? And if you are, do you still feel like doing nothing to fix it?
– Some seemingly harmless addictions can result in poor physical health. Those addicted to work find themselves living with signs of stress, excessive back pain, and sometimes even more complicated problems like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, High Blood Pressure, or Obesity. Many people addictive to excessive working out become more prone to injury; their obsession with staying ‘fit’ actually hindering with good health.
– You read somewhere that your obsession (whatever it may be in your case) can be a problem, and can cause psychological or worse physiological damage in the long run. And yet you make excuses and tell yourself ‘I have things under control’ when a little voice inside your head is telling you otherwise.
Yes, addictions can be easy to ignore and hard to cure. But do you really want to be overly dependent on something and live with too many secrets? Probably not. And that’s why you need to address the problem. Accept the fact openly that you have an addiction. It may not be so harmful, but it is still a problem. And you’d be surprised to see how just this little step will give you more self-control.
Anything is ‘Excess’ is bad for us. If you are obsessed with a particular product or activity, you don’t have to give it up completely. You just have to stop depending on it as much as you do now so that you can voluntarily control your actions, and no longer have the need to hide behind excuses or keep secrets from those you love.