The most common perception amongst people when they hear of the word addiction is that it is related to drugs or alcohol, but this is not extremely correct. Josh Billings (1818-1885 American Writer and lecturer) once said, “It is easy to assume a habit; but when you try to cast it off, it will take skin and all.”
A vast number of people do things to excess or do something that looks good but ends up being an addiction. A person may love drinking, spending a huge amount of money which if accumulatively calculated is a fortune, and the alcohol, in turn, shortens their average lifespan. Some addictive behaviour are so severe that people find themselves enslaved to that behaviour and they may find that without doing their addictive behaviour, they find life not worth living anymore. Are you a functional alcoholic?
Imagine someone who keeps having an affair despite the toll that it’s taking on her marriage or a man who is addicted to gambling and plunges himself into a pit of debt. I remember watching a television reality show, of a lady who has a shoe addiction, all she did as a hobby was buy shoes and if she didn’t buy a shoe within a week she would feel as though she might get sick soon.
Why are addictions hard to resist?
For starters, it is a cognitive action. The easiest question would have been, why are addictive behaviours easy to acquire and difficult to shake/cut off?
All the above questions are easily answered, when we look closely at the cognitive behaviour around it, in the brain there is a chemical called dopamine, a natural brain chemical that is responsible for raising our emotional level, then there is another chemical known as endorphin, that is attributed to making us have a warm feeling of satisfaction after indulging in sex, gambling, watching pornography and other addictive acts. The two brain chemicals work hand in hand to make us interested in doing the functions repeatedly.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying yourself but how do you know you have crossed the line and need to get out. Ask yourself these simple questions:
1. Is the behaviour negatively affecting one or more areas of your life?
2. Are you secretive about the behaviour?
3. Have you attempted to stop the behaviour but couldn’t stop?
If all the answers are yes, you need to admit you are addicted and need to address the issue.
Think about any trigger points or the drivers in your life that made you get addicted to behaviour, focus on that issue and try to disassociate yourself from the behaviour.
Try to interrupt/ Postpone planned acts: if you find yourself logging into a porn site at a certain time like 2 am in the morning, try to schedule something else before logging into the site, it might help you get distracted and bury those thoughts of logging into the site.
Change routine: find an alternative to get involved in. Like if you loved smoking, try eating an apple. Chewing gum or drinking tea, so that you get your mind thinking you have something in your mouth, just keep yourself occupied.
Identify your weaknesses that facilitate the habit. This may include looking at how you spend your time and the friends you associate with. Find ways in which you can avoid them so that you don’t associate yourself with the addictive behaviour.
Make lifestyle changes: this can include, trying to carry less money so that you may not have extra cash to buy cigarettes, avoid going out as often as you did.
Have a support system: have a close friend who you will be accountable for your actions. He/she will check up on you and help you from retracting from your set goal of fighting the addiction.
Reward yourself: if you see remarkable progress, even if it is baby steps, motivate yourself, by taking yourself out or doing something for yourself that makes you happy. This will encourage you to do better.
Addiction can be defeated, even without any support system but it helps to have people in your corner. “We can’t in a moment get rid of habits of a lifetime.” Mahatma Ganthi (1869-1948).
If you are addicted to something, 4 Signs Its Time To Seek Addiction Treatment