Addictions come in all shapes and sizes. The first thing that comes to mind for most people is a heroin addict or alcoholic slumped over in a dark alley or a crackhead stealing out of his/hers grandmother’s purse to get his/her next fix.
Addictions can be subtle sometimes. People can be quite clever at hiding addictions, especially when the addiction is obviously a problem and scrutinized by society. We’ve all heard about functional alcoholics. But what about the less obvious addictions?
The American Psychiatric Association defines addiction as “a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use, despite harmful consequence.”
If we take a step back to think about that definition and all the various things in the modern world that could fit in that criteria, we would realize that addiction is a more prevalent issue than what is recognized by public health authorities. In place of “substance,” what if we looked at behaviors and mindsets that are compulsive and harmful. This means that many more people suffer from addictions, and they may not recognize or receive help for it.
What sort of “addictions” might people face and not recognize it?
-How about addiction to social media? This idea is becoming more popular these days. People can spend countless hours per day on social media. They often feel terrible afterwards, because they are comparing their “normal” lives to the seemingly perfect lives of others. How is this harmful? Maybe this time would be better spent with family and friends (in person), planning and preparing healthy meals, exercising and spending time outdoors, reading, learning a new skill, etc. Doing all the things that we convince ourselves that we don’t have time for!
-What about being addicted to the victim mentality? Some people may have been legitimately victimized in their lives, but never learned how to regain control and free themselves from victimization. They continue living like they have no control over their circumstances and tend to rely on others excessively. This is commonly seen in healthcare with chronic disease management. People just don’t want to take responsibility for their health anymore because they believe that they are powerless to have a positive impact. They become victims of their chronic disease. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the savior complex. Repeatedly sacrificing yourself for others, because you have convinced yourself that everyone’s problems are your responsibility. However, deep down you despise this mindset because you suffer for it, with lack of time and energy for yourself. Both of these behaviors and mindsets can be addictions. They are harmful to your overall well-being.
-Last example is self sabotage. You’re secretly afraid to succeed. A person may be on the right track for success, but then does something to derail their progress. So they are failing repeatedly. Why would someone do this? Because success comes with more expectations and responsibility. Some people are afraid of what will become of their lives if they succeed so self sabotage becomes their addiction of choice.
Today’s blog may not resonate with everyone. However, the point is to look for the addictions in your life that may be interfering with you living your best life. No one questions the devastating impact drug and alcohol addiction can have on one’s life, but these behaviors can be equally problematic.
I wanted to use this Wednesday to highlight some of the lesser recognized “addictions” that people may not seek help for or try to remedy in their lives. It will take deep self reflection and honesty to identify these behavioral problems, and not everyone is up to that task.
Addressing these hidden (mindset) addictions will certainly improve your wellness efforts and would be a great goal this week.