Little inclinations don’t hurt. And who says it’s a big deal when you want some more? Well, it all depends on what it is you want. As for drugs and alcohol, the alarm is always being sounded. The law would threaten for the illegal part, you know what that means. Health officers are beating the drums harder on the dangers for even the legal drugs. As for sex, the debate is on, but you will do well to tell yourself when ‘enough is enough’.
But beyond the obvious―sex, substance abuse, and even gambling, addiction is generally considered a ‘case’ that needs to be dealt with, irrespective of what it is about. So, many would like to have more of different things, but would also not enjoy thinking they are becoming addicted.
It is the prison of dependence, the slavery of the influence of the object of addiction, and the consequences of its indulgence that people fear most. When the fun fades, and reality dawns, that’s when it hurts to know you are addicted.
How then do you know when more becomes dangerous?
Many, if not every, aspects of our lives are interrelated, like work, health, finance, and relationship. The need for balance then becomes obvious, as one affects others. So when we are talking about consequences, it could be in any of these other areas. If what you are doing affects other areas of your life negatively, yet you find yourself wanting more, you are getting addicted and it is dangerous. The common thing here is that you will find ways of ignoring or justifying the problems your addiction is causing.
When you find that your priorities are beginning to shift from what it used to be in favour of this particular behaviour, you should be careful about it; especially when you ignore doing more healthy things and things you once loved. It could be ignoring spending time with friends and family, hanging out, etc. The hint is when you ignore those things simply because they won’t allow you indulge in the particular act you are getting addicted to. More so, you give less attention to even your own basic needs in favour of the act. It could be starving yourself just to buy more jewelleries or other stuff, not feeding properly while you drink more, etc.
For substance abuse, like heroine, painkillers, cocaine or other hard drugs, and even alcohol, the effect of trying to stop taking them is physical. It is a form of withdrawal, a way your body reacts to the discontinuation. It can take the form of seizures, anxiety, depression, or tremors that will last from days to weeks, or even months, depending on what it is and how long you’ve been on it. For other addictions, the reaction is more emotional, with things like restlessness or temper.
The fear of judgment and criticism for that particular act is one of the things you face when getting addicted to something. You fear people around you will be alarmed when they know what you are doing. Your attempt to keep them out of it actually results in keeping them away from you. This is the first part of how you react people concerning it, and it is when they are yet to know about it. so your first instinct is to keep it from them.
After the secretive stage, comes the defensive. It happens when, and if, people are beginning to notice your indulgence and show concern. Some may warn you or try to interfere in different ways. The default reaction is to become defensive and try to justify your actions, just as you do to yourself. You don’t want to admit it is an issue, so you make excuses for your actions.
If you find that one reason with which you justify doing more of that thing is that it helps you deal with your problems and life generally, then you are in the danger zone. Addictions often serve as escape to current realities. They aren’t really solutions, but the momentary escape they bring soothes the individual. That then becomes an excuse to have/do some more. If you think it helps you deal with problems you’d rather be facing, you are already getting addicted. That’s a trap.
Addiction drives. When you find you’d do anything to have some more, you are on the way, or already there. The increased dependence on the substance and discomfort when not doing it can make one take risks, and go extra miles just to indulge some more. Gamblers have been known to sell properties, borrow, and even steal just to gamble some more. It may not be about that, or seem that bad. But if you find yourself willing to go, or always going, out of your way to do it, then it is already becoming an addiction.
This is one of the most obvious signs. It becomes so because the addiction starts taking control of you and your behaviour. It drives you. It calls the shots. You feel helpless about it. Sometimes you just want more, even when you know you shouldn’t, or you try not to do it.
You want to be in control of your life. You want to be healthy. You want balance. You want to be at your best. If all that is true, then you don’t want to be under the influence of an addiction. Whether it is for drinking, smoking, and all those ones that are generally tagged negative, or it concerns eating, shopping, gaming, etc., freedom and balance are always the watchwords.
And if you feel you may already have an issue, admitting and seeking help are the first steps to liberation. Live the good life!