For many people, addiction sounds like something that would never happen to them. This is especially true when they see addictions represented on the television or in the media. However, it’s far more likely than you think to succumb to addiction–and you might not even realize it.

Addiction is something that can happen to anyone. Even if you’re mentally stable and think that you have a lot of control over your actions and thoughts, there’s a good chance that you might still fall for addiction at some point. Even if it’s just temporary, a small addiction to something can cause a lot of problems in your life. As such, it’s best to identify an addiction beforehand and ensure that you stamp it out as quickly as possible.

So in this post, we’ll be taking a deeper look at addiction to help you understand what it really looks like, how to identify an addiction, and also how to seek help for yourself or a friend or family member.

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Addiction isn’t just about drugs or substance abuse

One of the biggest things about addiction that not everyone understands is that it’s not just about drugs and substances. When people think about addictions, they usually think about hard recreational drugs such as heroin or drinking too much alcohol. However, there are a large number of addictions that are officially recognized by the medical community across the world. For instance, gambling disorder is an officially-recognized behaviour disorder that you can actually be diagnosed for and also seek help to cope with.

So this begs the question; what is an addiction? How do we describe it?

Understanding what addiction means

A textbook definition of addiction is “the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity”. Unfortunately, a definition alone isn’t really that helpful. This is because there is nothing to quantify if someone has an addiction or not. There needs to be some way to diagnose yourself without room for speculation. So here are a couple of things that really define if you have an addiction or if something can be considered an addiction of yours:

  • A lack of control is one of the big telltale signs of an addiction. If you don’t feel like you’re in control of your actions then there’s a good chance that you’re doing something that can be considered an addiction. However, one of the problems of defining an addiction with a lack of control is that many people tell themselves that they could “stop if they wanted”. However, this is actually another potential sign that you’ve succumbed to the addiction.
  • Denying your addiction can be another potential sign that you’ve got an addiction. As mentioned above, people frequently say that they can stop when they want, but it could actually be a sign that they’re unable to break off their addiction. You might also refuse to acknowledge your addiction when confronted by friends and family members. This might be because it’s embarrassing to face your addiction.
  • Secretive behaviour to hide something is also a sign that you might be addicted to something. If you feel embarrassed to tell people about something you do, or if you lie about using certain substances or doing something on a regular basis, then it could be that you’ve developed an addiction. The more uncomfortable you are talking about something, the more likely you’ve developed an addiction from it.
  • Feeling socially withdrawn or having poor performance can also be a sign that you’ve developed an addiction. People that have addictions tend to avoid the rest of society for some time or they can display poor performance in certain areas. For example, their boss might tell them that they’re not performing well at work, or they might be told by friends and family members that they’ve become distant.
  • Physical dependency is a clear sign that you have an addiction that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. Withdrawal symptoms are a sign that your body has built a dependency on the substance that you’re addicted to. For example, people that go cold turkey with drugs can often find themselves with really bad symptoms that make their body weak.

So now that we’ve identified some of the signs of addiction, it should hopefully be a little more clear to people if they actually have an addiction or not. It’s neither easy nor quick to deal with an addiction, hence why it’s extremely important to be vigilant about how you approach it.

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Coping with the fact you might have an addiction

Thankfully, if you think that you have an addiction then there might be ways for you to recover. If your addiction is rather light then there’s a good chance that you can recover on your own without any kind of intervention. However, if your addiction is affecting your life and is causing you major problems with work and your relationships, then we suggest you seek immediate professional help.

Centres such as Enterhealth are a great place to start looking for assistance. Services that specifically treat additions are going to have a much higher chance of helping you than any self-help guides. While it’s perfectly fine to try coping with the addiction yourself, it’s best not to wait too long if your personal life is suffering due to your addiction. Not only do professionals help you understand your addiction and combat it, but they can also help you cope with the withdrawal symptoms that you might experience.

Addiction can bury itself into your personality

One of the quirks about addiction is that it changes the way we think. It alters our mind and it makes us think illogically. As a result, you’ll often find yourself struggling to deal with addiction because it simply doesn’t make sense. Even e-cigarettes and vaping devices can be addictive despite claiming to help with something like a smoking problem. One of the only reasons that it can help you beat smoking is because it literally replaces it. It still uses nicotine in many cases and it aims to mimic the feel of smoking.

In other words, you may find yourself swapping one addiction for another. This isn’t a way of curing an addiction but it can be a lot healthier, especially if the addiction doesn’t cause immediate damage to your health. Unfortunately, the problem is still there; your addictive personality. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to address it and come to terms that you have an addiction that needs to be dealt with.

Almost anything can be an addiction, so be on your guard

Lastly, make sure you’re always on your guard when it comes to addictions. Almost anything can become an addiction if you let it take over your life. Try to vary the activities you do and don’t always go to the same thing if you’re feeling down or are having a bad day. One of the ways to develop an addiction is to seek comfort in a specific activity. Unfortunately, if you engage in it too much, then it can start to affect your perception of that task and you may become dependent on it to function properly.

Always be on the lookout for an addictive personality in yourself and also in your loved ones. Dealing with the addiction as early as possible is one of the best ways to cope with it and should be your number one priority.