How many things do you think people may be able to be addicted to? Well, we have the usual suspects of alcohol, tobacco, drugs and gambling. But there are many more that may seem harmless like shopping, the internet and sex. When a person becomes addicted to something or a substance their whole life changes. Slowly and subtly at first but the changes are there. The chemistry in our body changes and we need more and more of our addiction “thing” to get the same feeling. Substances like alcohol and other drugs contain substances that cause us to become chemically dependent as well. Despite what we think the drive to have more of the thing that we are addicted to can never be managed. The thing which originally gave us pleasure now begins to harm us. It will take over and rule our lives.
Some addictions are potentially life threatening and will need to be medically treated with a detox program. Other treatments are available once a diagnosis of addiction is made and the type of addiction seen. We must make a distinction between an addiction and a compulsion. Some people are compelled to repeat certain behaviours and actions, like hand washing, that is not an addiction but is part of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a separate condition. If you feel that you may have an addiction to something or a compulsion to carry out certain behaviours, talk to your healthcare provider.
- Stephen Carroll is a credentialed practitioner