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Addiction vs Addictive Activities

Updated on March 20, 2010
k@ri profile image

I was a registered nurse for 25+ years. Working mainly in the operating room, I have been everything from staff nurse to DON

Is it an addictive activity or is it an addiction?  People engaged in addictive activities and people with addictions find activities, foods or drugs that make them feel good and use these things to alleviate pressure, stress or internal conflict.  The difference between an addiction and an addictive activity is in the frequency.  We all have addictive tendencies, it is how we control or display them that vary.  Addiction is the compulsive use, to the detriment of the user, of the activity, food or drug.

The usual activities identified as addictive are drug and/or alcohol use, over-eating and gambling.  These all have self-help groups and resources readily available.  However, less focused upon activities include work, internet usage, exercise, religion, video games and pretty much anything done to excess.   When a substance or activity is used to help you cope with daily pressures and stress it may become addictive.

Let’s look at reading for example. Reading is a good activity, right? We are taught we need to read to our children when they are young, you will do better at school if you read often, reading increases your knowledge base. In society, reading is a good thing. But, reading can also be used as an escape. It can be used to substitute false relationships or experiences for real ones.

Remember a time when you had that perfect book. It was so good, you never wanted to put it down. Your loved ones came to ask you a question, and although you answered, you didn’t really listen. They came back to ask again, and you were at a turning point in the story. You shushed them and told them to come back later. When they pulled you out of the chair and physically carried you from your burning house, you did not know why they were being so insistent. (OK, that’s a little extreme, but you get the point.)

The book became an addiction. You refused to stop reading it, even though your loved ones were getting upset. The book began interfering with you family relationships. You never stopped to make dinner, not realizing how much time had passed, so it interfered with your obligations. Finally, you were so involved in a fantasy, that your health was endangered when you denied the reality of your house burning down.

This is a very simplistic example of an addiction to give a quick and easy understanding. Of course, displaying these actions while reading one book is not really an addiction. Reading would only be considered an addiction if you did it consistently to relieve pain and escape reality.

Know your stressors
Know your stressors
May need to work on Moderation
May need to work on Moderation
Maintain strong relationships
Maintain strong relationships

How to Control Addictive Behavior

Self-Awareness

Awareness and moderation are the keys to preventing addictive activities into becoming addictions. Remember, we all have addictive tendencies. These tendencies may increase one day and decrease another based on stress, relationships and internal pressures. When these stressors are continuous and unrelieved our addictive tendencies will be stronger. We will become more susceptible to addiction.

Variety

What can we do to prevent common addictive tendencies from becoming addictions? Self-awareness is a key factor. Be aware of what you do to relieve the internal and external stress of everyday life. Ensure you have a variety of ways to relax. Addiction happens when you repetitively use the same method to find enjoyment. Variety is said to be the spice of life, but it will also keep life full of spice!

Moderation

Moderation is the compliment to self-awareness. Do all things in moderation, not excess. If you like to play video games, set an hour of the day aside for this. Do not fall into the “just 5 minutes more” habit or soon you will have a habit. The line between a habit and an addiction is nearly indistinguishable. Do you want some of those chips? Put some in a bowl, don’t take the whole bag. Moderation will ensure that pleasurable activity do not become addictions.

Strong and Healthy Relationships

Cultivate healthy relationships. Maintain strong personal bonds with friends and families. This will relieve feelings of social isolation. It is a proven fact that people with strong family and social bonds tend to have less addictions than people without. Are you in a new place and don’t know anyone? One excellent way to meet new people is to volunteer. Get out and help others, this in itself is stress relieving, but you will also get to meet caring individuals like yourself.

Ensuring self-awareness, enjoying in moderation, maintaining variety, and cultivating strong interpersonal bonds will help to keep addictions at bay. We all run the risk of addiction. Although some addictions (work, exercise) are considered healthier than others, all addictions will eventually cause physical and psychic harm to the addicted individual.

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    • profile image

      social lion 5 years ago

      this is pweety educative... no denier

    • k@ri profile image
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      Kari Poulsen 8 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks blondepoet, they say we write best about things we know. And of course it wasn't your fault the chair gave way...faulty chairs do that. LOL!

    • blondepoet profile image

      blondepoet 8 years ago from australia

      Loved it, I have many addictions, so I felt right at home here. You are amazing where do you find the time to write all these great Hubs? I only seem to have time getting stuck to my headset and falling off my office chair, was not my fault it gave way the other day, when I happened to be sitting on it ROFL. Thumbs up !!!!!!!!!

    • k@ri profile image
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      Kari Poulsen 8 years ago from Ohio

      Sound like you had a good time! Must have been White Summer's reunion concert, I had forgotten about that. Glad to hear you can still kick the habit if you want to. :D

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Not in jail . . . this time. I was in Michigan playing music in a concert and visiting family. But I stayed away from computers for 6 whole days!

    • k@ri profile image
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      Kari Poulsen 8 years ago from Ohio

      LOL James! Yes I know how that one goes. A one week hiatus...were you in jail or something? I know, I know...no would be the answer...but I can't imagine another way... :D

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      As one said above, I am addicted to Hub Pages. But I just came off a one week hiatus so it can be done!  Have hope out there folks! 

    • k@ri profile image
      Author

      Kari Poulsen 8 years ago from Ohio

      DoodleLyn, Thank you very much. Addiction can be many more things than just drugs and alcohol. I'm glad you liked it!

    • DoodleLyn profile image

      DoodleLyn 8 years ago from Upstate New York, USA

      Kari, you helped me understand addiction in a way I've never been able to before. Great writing and very good hub. I found you when you commented on my hub, and I'm glad you did, or I may not have seen this hub. Looking forward to reading many more from you.

    • k@ri profile image
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      Kari Poulsen 8 years ago from Ohio

      ethel, We all like doing the things that make us feel good. As long as we don't become too addicted and use moderation, we are usually OK.

      Neil, Balance is key! Thanks for your comment. You are most kind! :D

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 8 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      Kari

      This is one of the best writings I have ever found on this topic. You covered things that I have always believed. You write in an easy to understand way. Very impressive!!!

      All things in moderation - Balance is KEY!

      Thanks

      Love - Light - Laughter

      Neil

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I know I can be addicted to things at times. Hopefully not excessively so.

    • k@ri profile image
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      Kari Poulsen 8 years ago from Ohio

      Mighty Mom, We were almost neighbors, but not quite. Darn! I would have loved if you were one of my long lost friends! Oh well, now I have a new one! :D

      Feline Prophet, Like any other action, reading can become addictive. I find that I cannot go to sleep at night unless I read. Sometimes I read one paragraph, sometimes half a book. LOL Is that addictive?

      Shalini, Thank you! I wanted to make that distinction, and that is what this is about. I have had friends who have addictions, and I can have a very addictive personality. So much depends on awareness! I also wanted to bring out how easy it would be for each of us to become "addicted" to something.

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 8 years ago from India

      Fine distinction k@ri and you've made it so well! I guess without a supportive system around us in place, we all have it in us to spiral downward into addiction!

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 8 years ago

      Phew...for a moment there I thought my reading habit was a horrible addiction!

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      You were in Suffolk County, South Shore. I lived in Nassau County, North Shore. My hometown is Manhasset. I lived briefly in Syosset but my parents moved to Manhasset when I was little. Went all the way through school in Manhasset.

      How funny!

    • k@ri profile image
      Author

      Kari Poulsen 8 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Dori, My name is Kari and I have the same problem. LOL!

      Mighty Mom, I was in Bohemia, I spent my elementary school days there. Where were you?

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      k@ri!!! You grew up on LI and NJ? No way? I grew on Long Island too! And have spent some time in NJ also...Small world! Where on the 'gisland?

    • fortunerep profile image

      fortunerep 8 years ago from North Carolina

      my name is Dori and I am addicted to Hub pages for it is 12 am and I can't sleep

    • k@ri profile image
      Author

      Kari Poulsen 8 years ago from Ohio

      G-Ma, I love being addicted to my friends here, and I just don't know how to help that! :D

      Dale, Thank you very much. LOL, You must not have been reading much!

    • Dale Mazurek profile image

      Dale Mazurek 8 years ago from Canada

      What a great hub. Has to be in my top ten from everything I have read so far. You make such great distintions but yet make it very interesting.

      Normally what I would have thought a boring topic made very enjoyable

      Cheers

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 8 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Like being addicted to friends here on the hubs...not wanting to miss a single word...or song or poem....I guess I am sorrowfully addicted...Helppp...:O) Hugs

    • k@ri profile image
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      Kari Poulsen 8 years ago from Ohio

      Laughing Mom, Glad you are don't listen! Vegas is a blast. :D

      Mighty Mom, I truly thank you for lifting your thumbs off that controller! I understand how difficult that can be. You make a very good point about the downward spiral of an addict. Things stop working as well as they once did and WHAM, sometimes the bottom is hard. I lived in both Long Island and New Jersey during my formative years, sound familiar...that picture is from NJ.

      Nanny, No, just describing my own habits. LOL! I have this image in my mind of you being led out.

    • Nanny J.O.A.T. profile image

      Nanny J.O.A.T. 8 years ago from Somewhere over the rainbow

      Yeah-- what Mighty Mom said... it's hell to have to stand by and watch someone hit that point.

      Although.... have you been peeking into my house? You've described my reading habits perfectly - and if the house is burning down- I CAN walk and read at the same time if someone leads me by the arm!!! LOL

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi k@ri, I like your new avatar, too! You look so much like my best friend from my formative years!

      This is an excellent hub. You make the distinction between addictive behavior and true addiction very well. Occasional overindulgence in a "guilty pleasure" whether it's shopping or internet chat rooms or romance novels is not problemmatic. It becomes problemmatic, as you say, when it begins to replace normal functioning.

      Another key difference is that kept at the moderate addictive behavior level, the person continues to get the relief/pleasure from the activity. It doesn't stop working. In addiction, there is a progression, a downward spiral. The person's external world closes in around him/her as he/she abandons more and more relationships/ties to normalcy in favor of the addiction. Life becomes more and more unmanageable. The addict is totally enslaved. However, the addictive substance/behavior eventually stops working. It's a sorry situation indeed to get to that point (in recovery parlance we call it "hitting bottom."). But the good news is, once you hit bottom you can -- with effort and willingness -- overcome the addiction!

      Great hub and I'm gonna take my thumbs off the gamer controls just for a brief minute and vote it UP! LOOl MM

    • Laughing Mom profile image

      Laughing Mom 8 years ago

      I scored 11-17 points. It says I'm likely to stay clean, but I'm supposed to stay away from Vegas.

      Fortunately, I've never been one to do exactly as I was told. Vegas is a blast!

      Great hub, Kari!

    • k@ri profile image
      Author

      Kari Poulsen 8 years ago from Ohio

      Birte, We all have habits and addictive tendencies. Thanks for your comment!

      Sandman, LOL, good story! I love your new web-page, very nice layout! But, I'm very, very glad to have you visit :D

    • profile image

      TheSandman 8 years ago

      Kari, I think of a line from Mark Twain, he was to to moderate his drinking, he said he could not, the doctor ask why not he said he could quit but not moderate, because he had no will power. Good Hub.

    • BirteEdwards profile image

      BirteEdwards 8 years ago

      I agree we all have addictive habits, and occasionally it may even seem that they have become addictions (like in your example about reading).

    • k@ri profile image
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      Kari Poulsen 8 years ago from Ohio

      Kowality, Thanks, that is very kind of you!

    • k@ri profile image
      Author

      Kari Poulsen 8 years ago from Ohio

      Tom, That seemed to be the gist of my research. It's not just about escaping reality, though, it is more about relieving internal stress and conflict. However, enjoyable activities set off a part of the brain that starts cravings so one must be careful.

    • profile image

      Kowality 8 years ago

      Kari ..this stuff is awesome. You really found your niche..I mean writing great articles with great content.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 8 years ago from United States

      Very interesting, K@ri! Escaping reality is an attractive idea sometimes. I guess it's ok sometimes... but not all the time. :0)