Addiction is most commonly associated with a dependence on drugs and alcohol, but any substance or behavior can become addictive. Any time our reliance on something becomes problematic for us and causes us distress, we can consider it to be an addiction.
Do you find yourself worrying about your use or behavior? Does it cause you a lot of anxiety to think about it? Do you try to stop repeatedly but can’t? Has it created issues in your daily life, in your responsibilities and your work? Has it created conflict in your relationships? Does it bring you inner turmoil? Answering yes to any of these questions means you might be struggling with an addiction.
We develop coping mechanisms to deal with our stress, often from a very early age, and often after a traumatic experience. We come to rely on these ways of coping that are often unhealthy and toxic for us. Many of us are living with a deep sense of inadequacy, which is so ingrained in us that it informs everything we do, causing us to be self-destructive. Rather than developing healthy strategies to cope with our pain, we turn to things that provide a form of escape. As we come to learn, though, we can’t escape our pain, and trying to run from it only makes it stronger. When we resist our deepest pain rather than accepting it and learning to work through it, we usually are creating more pain for ourselves and allowing its power over us to grow.
When you think about your behavior in question, how does it make you feel? Do you feel guilty afterwards? Do you feel depressed that you can’t stop? What associations do you have with it? For example, do you associate your gambling habit with wanting to make enough money so that you no longer feel like a failure in life? Do you associate dating with trying to escape your feelings of loneliness? What inner pain are you trying to avoid feeling by engaging in your behavior? What fears are you trying not to face? When we start to look at our behaviors more closely and examine the emotional patterns underlying them, we can determine for ourselves if they are problematic and addictive. We can get the help and support we need, which are all around us when we are open to them!
The Riverside community has years of experience helping people with their recovery, as well as firsthand experience living in recovery ourselves. Call (800) 871-5440.