Addiction Causes, Symptoms & Support
When we think of addiction, our thoughts draw immediately to drugs and alcohol, but – actually – anything that creates a “buzz” or a “high” can be addictive.
It might start off completely innocently, but if you’ve found yourself unable to stop doing something (like shopping, a little flutter on the horses here and there, or even looking at social media), then you might be facing a burgeoning addiction.
What is addiction?
Addiction is the psychological or physical dependence you experience from participating in a particular activity (regardless of the potential harm it may have on your day-to-day life). If you seek that “high” (even though it could be damaging to yourself or to those around you), it’s likely that you’re suffering from an addiction.
Is it an addiction?
People might say “I’m addicted to shopping”, and – of course – that could be true. But it’s probably only an addiction if it begins to harm your relationships and work prospects. If you just love a bit of shopping, then you’re probably fine.
But if you’re running up massive credit card bills, buying things you can’t afford, and lying to your loved ones about your spending, then there are serious consequences; and you’re displaying avoidance behaviours.
There’s nothing wrong with seeking a buzz, as long as you can live without it.
What are the signs of addiction?
Everyone is different, and most people are unable to recognise their addictive behaviours.
However, you might recognise yourself in some of the following behaviours:
- Inability to perform in everyday life without the activity or substance
- Dishonesty regarding your engagement in the activity or substance
- Financial problems arising from the activity or substance use
If you can’t get your “hit” (whatever that might be), you become:
- Irritable or aggressive
- Unshakably distracted
- Desperate and agitated
- Unhappy or depressed
Less common forms of addiction
People associate addictions with substances such as heroin, nicotine, cocaine, cannabis, LSD, prescription drugs, and alcohol.
But addiction can be connected to a much broader spectrum of behaviour.
Einstein said that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. You could say the same for addiction: you might feel a sense of guilt or disappointment afterwards, but you do it anyway.
People get addicted to:
- Sex (and behaviours that demand sexual attention)
- Using the internet
How addiction psychologically affects people
A sense of shame inevitably accompanies most addictions. We feel that we let ourselves down when we engage in the activity or when we go back to the substance that is controlling us.
Addictions are often a symptom of a deeper issue, and addressing that issue can help you to overcome your compulsive behaviours.
Addictions don’t just happen to the weak. They can happen to anyone, and recognising that there’s a problem is a brave, first step to addressing the issues.
All addictions can be treated. But you might need some help to beat them.
Should I seek therapy for addiction?
Your compulsion is probably causing you distress, unhappiness, or anxiety. It could be affecting your friendships and relationships with your loved ones.
The most important thing to remember is that you’re not on your own. You can overcome your addiction with some help from a professional.
If you notice any of these signs of addiction within yourself, you might consider:
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