The Plague of Addictions and Compulsive Behaviors

One of the most common, widespread and harmful diseases (for lack of a better word) plaguing society today is that of addictions.  This disease does not harm just the addict, but it affects family and friends and anyone else even somewhat closely associated.  One statistic states that 1 addict affects 30 people.  It behooves us to learn all we can and help those around us who struggle with this problem.  Understanding is needed; both for the person and of the disease itself.

We would also do well to remember that pretty much all of us have addictions of one type or another.  They may not be the serious ones mentioned here, but none-the-less they are there.

I fully agree with the words of someone else who referred to the disease of addiction as a "cunning, baffling, and powerful" disease.  It is a disease of the brain associated with the limbic system which is involved with emotions and the subconscious part of the brain.

Addicted people are in denial of the consequences and the risks involved associated with their substances and behaviors.  They are driven by the subconscious forces of the brain.  Their perception is altered.  No wonder it is so difficult for them to see things as they truly are and recognize their need for help.

What Determines When Someone is Addicted?

The following points are characteristics of a true addiction:

  • Loss of Voluntary Control - A seeming inability or extreme difficulty in choosing to stop
  • Counter-productive - The actions are counter-productive in bringing about what is truly wanted (Ex. Rather than feeling more hopeful,  a sense of hopelessness is compounded by the use of drugs)
  • Ongoing - Continued use of the substance or chronic participation in the behavior even while knowing that it is counter-productive
  • Always Needing a Little More - To achieve the same chemical reaction in the brain, a little more is needed each time
  • Preoccupation - An unusual amount of time is spent dwelling on the subject of the addiction



I fully agree with the words of someone else who referred to the disease of addiction as a "cunning, baffling, and powerful" disease.  It is a disease of the brain associated with the limbic system which is involved with emotions and the subconscious part of the brain.

Addicted people are in denial of the consequences and the risks involved associated with their substances and behaviors.  They are driven by the subconscious forces of the brain.  Their perception is altered.  No wonder it is so difficult for them to see things as they truly are and recognize their need for help.

What Determines When Someone is Addicted?

The following points are characteristics of a true addiction:

  • Loss of Voluntary Control - A seeming inability or extreme difficulty in choosing to stop
  • Counter-productive - The actions are counter-productive in bringing about what is truly wanted (Ex. Rather than feeling more hopeful,  a sense of hopelessness is compounded by the use of drugs)
  • Ongoing - Continued use of the substance or chronic participation in the behavior even while knowing that it is counter-productive
  • Always Needing a Little More - To achieve the same chemical reaction in the brain, a little more is needed each time
  • Preoccupation - An unusual amount of time is spent dwelling on the subject of the addiction







Types of Addictions

Addictions can be grouped into the three main categories of substance, emotional, and behavioral (also referred to as compulsive behaviors) and I have added an additional category with other miscellaneous addictions.    Here is a listing of examples of each category. 

Substance Addictions

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Caffeine
  • Recreational Drugs
  • Prescription Drugs (Pain Killers, Ambien)
  • Steroids

Emotional Addictions

  • Anger 
  • Despair
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Overwhelm
  • Sadness

Behavioral Addictions

  • Clutter
  • Computer-use ( Social Media, Internet, Online Games)
  • Eating Disorders (Overeating, Anorexia, Bulimia)
  • Exercising
  • Gambling
  • Lying
  • Need to Control
  • Pain-seeking (Cutting)
  • Pornography
  • Sex
  • Shopping
  • Stealing
  • Texting
  • Working

Miscellaneous Addictions

  • To a place (A room, Home, Work)
  • To a Person
  • To Your Own Story
  • To a State of Being (Victim, Poor)

Substance Addictions

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Caffeine
  • Recreational Drugs
  • Prescription Drugs (Pain Killers, Ambien)
  • Steroids

Miscellaneous Addictions

  • To a place (A room, Home, Work)
  • To a Person
  • To Your Own Story
  • To a State of Being (Victim, Poor)

Emotional Addictions

  • Anger 
  • Despair
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Overwhelm
  • Sadness

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Behavioral Addictions

  • Clutter
  • Computer-use ( Social Media, Internet, Online Games)
  • Eating Disorders (Overeating, Anorexia, Bulimia)
  • Exercising
  • Gambling
  • Lying
  • Need to Control
  • Pain-seeking (Cutting)
  • Pornography
  • Sex
  • Shopping
  • Stealing
  • Texting
  • Working

Emotional Addictions

The emotional category is a lesser known type of addictions.  A person can become addicted to the feeling of an emotion.  The body produces specific combinations of chemicals for each emotion.  The person becomes addicted to the chemicals associated with a specific emotion.

For further clarification watch this fascinating video clip from the movie, "What the Bleep Do We Know."


Where Do I Find Help?

Resources

Understanding Addiction




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Disclaimer:  The information provided here is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment or prescription for any disease.  The decision to use, or not to use, any of this information is the sole responsibility of the reader. Please consult with a licensed health care practitioner if you are dealing with a serious disease or illness.



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