When we speak about addiction, we tend to think of drugs and alcohol. But there are many seemingly benign activities that can become an addiction for some people. For some, watching porn is an activity done once in a while for fun, while others watch for hours every day alone. Some people shop only when they need something, others spend more than they can afford chasing a certain feeling that shopping gives them.
Whether it’s chemical substances, social media, sex, video games, food, or anything that forms dependence, all can become a negative influence in our lives if a line is crossed. If you are concerned you may have developed an addiction, here are 5 signs you should seek help.
1. The Activity Has Become a Priority
Family, work, and social activities with friends – these are the things we give priority to in our lives. But when other activities or pursuits become such a priority that we push aside our time at work or with family and friends, it’s a sign there could be a problem. A dangerous priority can be recognized not only by how much you’re doing something, but also by how much you’re not doing other things.
2. Reward Response
We all take pleasure in doing certain activities. Gardening, dancing, or watching our favorite movie can make us happy, and that’s natural. There is a problem when you start to feel good or happy only when involved in your addiction. You may even begin to notice you feel particularly bad when not doing the activity.
Do you start out thinking, I’ll just eat a little, or smoke a little, or do whatever for just a little bit, but then find yourself doing the activity for longer periods of time than you planned? Do you become angry when something or someone tears you away from the activity? Do you feel you have to hide the amount of time or money you spend on this activity? If so, this is a sign you may have a problem.
One of the clearest indicators of an addiction is the anxiety felt when not doing the activity, or when even thinking about having to give up the activity. The higher the level of panic you feel about giving up this activity, even for just one day, the stronger the addiction is.
Isolation is perhaps the biggest behavioral change associated with an addiction. To an addict, it becomes necessary to withdraw and hide their behavior from loved ones. Akin to isolation is a loss of interest in healthy hobbies or activities you once enjoyed. If you used to enjoy hiking with friends on the weekend, but now all you do is sit around the house getting into bidding wars online, it’s time you speak to somebody.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.