- Mental Health
Addiction vs Addictive Activities
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.
Do You Have an Addictive Personality? Take the Quiz
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.
How to Control Addictive Behavior
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.
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 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.