“To be alive is to be addicted, and to be alive and addicted is to stand in need of grace.” Gerald May
For reasons that go back a few generations, I am interested in addiction. I have studied it, and I have experienced it! I have written about it in my book, Overcoming Adolescence. In my opinion, a person can be addicted to about anything, from alcohol to hobbies to food to exercise to money to a need for approval.
Here is a short list of signs, clues and hints that someone has crossed a boundary and could be addicted:
• No “Off” button
• Out of control
• Denial, dismissive or discounting the questionable conduct as normal
• Lack of moderation/excessive
• Comments and feedback about a particular behavior from family and friends
• Bad decisions made to maintain the habit
• Hiding the behavior
• Financial impact that is disruptive to the family budget
• Self-justification and defensive
• Withdrawal symptoms if the behavior stops
• Continued activity even after negative consequences
• Shutting out other options and activities
The purpose of this blog post is not to give unhappy people ammunition to diagnose, blame or call out someone whose behavior seems crazy to them. Maybe the person’s pastime is a problem. Maybe it isn’t. Sometimes, an intervention is needed, but be careful of playing psychiatrist or analyst in areas where you are not qualified. Most of us participate in conduct of one form or another that some people don’t like or understand. To a teetotaler, someone who has a glass of wine with a meal is an alcoholic. Overweight people are tempted to call any thin person anorexic. Maybe you wouldn’t spend money collecting that “junk” your sister collects, but if it does her and no one else any harm, leave her alone!
Addiction is real and can create problems for an individual and in relationships. Beware!