“Addiction” is a word that is both widely used and misused in modern-day society.
On the one hand, you might hear someone flippantly describe themselves as a “chocoholic”. Or say that they’re “addicted” to online shopping because they spend a little more than they should on online purchases.
On the other, there are those that ask: “How can a work addiction be a bad thing?” Or say: “I wish I could be addicted to exercise!”
Ultimately, there is a fine line between a healthy obsession and an addiction. And knowing when that line has been crossed is an important distinction to make.
Addictions widely considered to be “harmless”
There are several addictions that are commonly characterised as “harmless” addictions. These tend to be behavioural addictions, rather than substance addictions. Among the most common is an addiction to work.
In most cultures, especially in the West, devoting yourself to your work is generally viewed positively. This is because such individuals tend to progress further with their careers and, ultimately, acquire the most wealth.
Likewise, an addiction to exercise is often considered to have no negative effects. After all, how can doing something so healthy ever be bad for you?
Sex addiction might also be considered something positive too. Doing something that brings such pleasure has to be good, right?
However, this is not the case.
The line between a healthy obsession and an addiction
Understanding the threshold for when something becomes an addiction and not just a healthy obsession, is incredibly important.
The line between the two is fine and is often blurred. However, the fundamental distinction that needs to be made is whether this obsession (or passion) impacts your life in a negative way or causes problems for others.
An inability to stop, even when these negative consequences are apparent, would classify the behaviour as an addiction.
These negative consequences could include the following:
- A constant inner compulsion to partake in the activity
- An obsessive focus is the detriment of other parts of life, especially family and mental health
- Difficulty controlling the time spent on the activity
- Uneasiness, anxiety or agitation when attempting to stop or limit the activity
- A negative toll on physical health
A constant search for fulfilment
The bottom line is that passion becomes an addiction when fulfilment becomes impossible.
If something is your passion, you’ll feel a sense of satisfaction once you’ve completed something. You shouldn’t feel emotionally or physically drained by it. In fact, the opposite should be true – it should give you energy and have a positive impact on your health.
By contrast, with addiction, you’re never satisfied. You find yourself wanting to do more and more. So much so that you might forget to eat, sleep, take care of your personal hygiene, leave the house, socialise or do anything that would ordinarily form part of your routine.
While wanting to do better is generally a positive trait, doing so at your own cost is where you must draw the line.
Treatment for behavioural addictions
If you or someone you know is addicted to an activity or behaviour, it’s best to seek professional help.
Mental health professionals can help individuals to overcome and develop healthier ways of dealing with these compulsions.
As is the case with most addictions, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), talk therapy, group therapy and family therapy are all methods that must be considered as they can help to alter patterns of thinking, behaviours and their effects.
These are often also supplemented with other complementary therapies such as acupuncture, massage, meditation and yoga in order to promote inner balance.
Those with behavioural addictions often experience concurrent mental health disorders or substance abuse too. Doctors will usually diagnose and treat these disorders while also developing a treatment plan for behavioural addiction.
Treating process addiction at White River Manor
When you choose to make changes that will significantly improve your life, you need people who fully understand and have the experience necessary to help you through the process.
At White River Manor, we offer personalised treatment programmes, all delivered in first-class, luxury facilities in the heart of South Africa – the perfect place for you to recover and reinvigorate.
While those with behavioural addictions may not experience the same risk to physical health as those with substance addiction, leaving a behavioural disorder untreated can cause immense hardship.
If you or someone you care about has a behavioural disorder, please contact one of our specialists today to find out how we can help you.