Many people are partial to the odd guilty pleasure, whether it’s a sugary treat or an occasional glass of wine. Perhaps your secret vice is to peep at Facebook while you’re at work, or maybe you indulge in retail therapy? Many times it’s probably harmless, but for some people life’s small indulgences can easily escalate into a full-blown addiction.
Interestingly, the urge to consume more, whether it’s food, sex, or alcohol and drugs, affects everybody from time to time. Very few people are completely immune, all of us exist somewhere on the addictive spectrum, but for most of the population it doesn’t cause serious problems. However, for a sizable proportion, addiction has the potential to become a serious affliction. These are the people we call ‘addicts’, even if they may not currently be in the throes of an active addiction. Instead, the condition might be dormant.
Most of us have the potential to become addicted to almost anything with the power to alter our moods and this can include ‘processes’ such as shopping or exercise as well as substances. People become addicted to something because they are trying to change the way they feel. Some things one might want to consider in estimating whether or not a tendency towards addictive behavior is present might include the following:
Sensitivity: If deep down inside you are emotionally sensitive it can open the door to addiction. Addicts seem to have a pre-disposition to being hyper-sensitive to life’s trials and tribulations.
Vigilance: Addicts are often highly intelligent people who work in the creative spheres of life. They have a gift for watching what’s going on around them and they are super-attuned to danger, but they struggle with the feelings this creates.
Perfectionism: Many addicts are high achievers. This may be because their self-esteem is reliant on being seen to do well in order to feel good, instead of having an inherent sense of self-worth.
Childhood Trauma: If you experienced emotional trauma during childhood, overt, hidden or seemingly minor, then it can become locked in your brain’s limbic system and make you highly susceptible to addiction in later life.
A sure way to find out if you’re using something in an addictive fashion is to ask yourself a very simple question: does it cause you consequences you’d rather avoid? If the true cost includes damage to your health, your relationships, your self-esteem, your work or anything else, then it might be time for a wake-up call.