When we hear the word “addictions”, the immediate things that we normally think of is drugs, alcohol or smoking. But actually, addiction is much more than just substance abuse.
Addiction is the term given to a pattern of repeated behavior that causes negative consequences for an individual.
When a person continues to do something, knowing that it will have an adverse impact on his or her life, that’s the sign of addiction. A person can get addicted to almost anything – from substances like alcohol and tobacco to habits like gambling or compulsive eating to excessive use of social media or devices.
Addiction not only affects the addict but also his or her family and loved ones. And overcoming any addiction is something that cannot be achieved alone but needs support of the family and friends of the addict. The approach to overcoming addictions differs by the type, trigger as well as the intensity of the addiction and needs the help of an expert.
But, the first step towards betterment is to recognize the fact that you are addicted. Below are some of the types of addictions that have become common in today’s life.
Being addicted to harmful drugs like heroin and cocaine or even prescription drugs like painkillers, relaxants or sleep medications. This is one of the most harmful types of addiction since it seems to provide positive stimulations like feeling good, uninhibited and happiness and even a moderate use of these gets you hooked on. Also, it has a devastating effect on family members and loved ones and often leads to the breakdown of relationships, job losses, financial struggles, and homelessness. Overcoming this addiction is difficult but achievable by long-term rehabilitation under expert supervision.
Alcohol is a legal but controlled substance consumed all over the world. When consumed, it lowers anxiety and inhibitions. But not everyone who consumes alcohol is an addict. An alcohol addict is someone who develops a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. This means that without consuming alcohol they would develop symptoms like tiredness, lethargy, unhappiness leading to depression and/or sleep disorders. Also, they would not be able to perform their regular routine if they were to abstain from alcohol. Detecting and accepting an alcohol addiction is often difficult until the problem becomes chronic and overcoming this addiction is a long-drawn process.
Tobacco is one of the most abused substances around the world. Nicotine in the tobacco is the substance responsible for the addiction. This, when released in the bloodstream triggers an increase in dopamine – the brain’s “happy” chemical.
You know you are addicted to tobacco if you “need” to smoke or chew it at regular intervals and cannot perform your routine work if you don’t get it. Also, you would have withdrawal symptoms like shaky hands, sweating, irritability, sleep disorders or rapid heart rate when you try to quit. A person who is addicted to tobacco gives up activities where smoking or tobacco use is not allowed and also cannot stop smoking or chewing it, despite health problems.
Overcoming this addiction requires a strong willpower but the starting point for it, like any other addiction treatment, is recognizing and accepting that there is a problem and to want to overcome it.
Eating disorders can destroy the lives of those affected. The most common eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia and binge eating. Anorexia is when a person is not able to eat or consume any calories, does not feel hungry and stay without eating for long durations. Those suffering from bulimia will binge eat and then purge themselves or exercise excessively. Binge eating disorder involves compulsive overeating or consuming abnormal amounts of food while feeling unable to stop and a loss of control.
Those suffering from eating disorders often struggle with emotions of disgust and guilt and suffer from depression or anxiety.
Addiction to Gambling is a hidden addiction. It often goes undetected by the family and loved ones until an advanced stage wherein financial problems set in. The thrill of winning and the anticipation and expectation of a win is what stimulates the brain producing the happy feel. This leads to obsessive thinking and loss of concentration on all other activities.
Social media and gaming addiction
With the advent of the internet and smartphones, there is a parallel virtual world available and easily accessible to us all. Social media and gaming produce dopamine, the same chemical produced by any other substance abuse, which is responsible for the happy feel.
Excessive usage and access to this virtual world begin to affect the lives of those who take part in it. It can have a negative effect on lifestyle causing to neglect day to day responsibilities and duties, personal hygiene, and lack of interest in any other activities. It can also lead to mental problems like sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression.
Pornography and sex addiction
Pornography and/or sex addicts spend much of their time watching porn or thinking about porn or sex. involves an ongoing preoccupation and/or obsession with sexual fantasies and behavior. Pornography addicts find it difficult to enjoy sex with a partner and this often adversely affects their relationships. For sex these addicts, sex becomes a primary focus in their lives. they are unable to quit or curtail their sexual acting out, despite a variety of negative life consequences. Also, they often keep craving for more, multiple partners and nothing seems to satisfy them.
These addicts often feel great shame about what they’re doing and thus find it difficult to accept their addiction as well as admitting it and getting help.
All addictions have one thing in common, that is the fact that they have harmful consequences for those affected as well as their families and loved ones. But it is an illness that can be treated with professional help and support of loved ones. Identifying the addiction is the first step towards overcoming the addiction and overcoming an addiction is definitely possible. Watch this space for details on overcoming addictions.