Addiction is a form of compulsion. It focuses on consuming a particular substance or taking part in a specific activity. The activity is often pleasurable for the person suffering from the compulsion, but the continued desire interferes with their normal life. They may experiencing failing health, or put their jobs or relationships at risk, but cannot seem to fight off the urge to do what their addiction compels them to do.
Physical or Psychological
Addictions do come in two different types: physical and psychological. Physical addiction occurs when the body adjusts to the presence of a particular substance, like cocaine and alcohol. To get the same effects, the person must consume larger quantities. Over time, an absence of the substance can yield negative physical effects, most commonly referred to as withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal could include fatigue, shaking, anxiety, depression, and vomiting.
Psychological addiction is a bit harder to define. Often, this refers to a person feeling the need to take a particular action when exposed to stress. For example, a person struggling financially may turn to gambling hoping for a big win to get them out of their financial rut. They may win some, lighting up the reward sector of the brain, but they will often lose a lot of money. Over time, money stress compels them to gamble to try to find a solution. This cycle can result in gambling addiction.
Many addictions start as a result of stress. To avoid harmful addictions, it is important to find healthy ways to manage stress. This can include learning when to take a break from a stressor, or adopting new habits that are ultimately beneficial. Some people find exercise incredibly helpful for stress management, as well as receiving support from friends, family, or mental health professionals. Meditation can be helpful, as well as enjoying a funny movie. By redirecting the stressful energy to a healthy activity, you can avoid turning to less healthy alternatives.
Certain substances are well known for being addictive by nature. Many illegal drugs, certain prescription medications, and nicotine can all be highly addictive. While trying something once does not automatically make you an addict, you cannot become addicted to something you have never done. In these cases, pure avoidance is an excellent strategy. This is especially true if there is a history of addiction in your family.
In some cases, being mindful of your consumption or participation can be incredibly helpful. For example, having the occasional sweet treat won’t derail your life, but overeating can have serious health consequences. By practicing moderation, you can allow yourself to enjoy something without making it a habit. However, if you feel that you do not have the self-control to only have something on occasion, it can be best to simply avoid it all together.
If you find yourself in the grips of an addiction, help is always available. You can speak with your doctor or a mental health professional that specializes in addiction. For those who are not comfortable starting there, share your struggles with close friends or family members. This will help you to create a support network that can stand by you while you get your life back on track. Many people think that they can overcome addiction themselves but that is often not the case. There is no shame in asking for help or seeking help if you need it.
You don’t have to fight the pull of addiction alone. There are many people who dedicate their lives to helping people beat addiction. So, don’t stay quiet if you need help, seek someone you can talk to.