There are many ways that addiction rears its ugly head in our society. You only need to go out on a Friday night to see the effects of alcohol and recreational drugs in action. Not that all people who go out to party are intoxicated or high on some mind-altering substance, of course.
The problem is that not all who use drugs (including alcohol) tend to come out on the other side in a party mood.
We all know about the potentially damaging effects of drugs and alcohol. What is not so well known is that there are plenty of other ways in which one can become addicted.
Reasons for Addiction
People use their addictions to cover up something lacking in themselves. When this lack is concealed, it does not need to be confronted. Confrontation makes people uncomfortable and can dig up even more uncomfortable feelings.
If you feel a particular emotion you are forced to acknowledge it. And once something is out in the open the way forward is to deal with the matter and find a solution. This takes time and effort. It is sometimes easier to bury your head in the sand by using something to divert your attention.
Many people would rather ignore a headache than try to work out its cause. And so they pop a pill without giving it too much thought. While this eliminates the pain of the headache, it does not physically take the headache away. And instead of resting your body (hence the headache indicator), you push on through. In our busy life, this is the option that most people take, and very soon, those with more addictive personalities might find themselves swallowing painkillers more often, thinking that this is harmless.
Internet and Email
There is a potentially harmful, yet more subtle form of addition that is linked to the online world. It has become imperative for people to check their email. It was adequate in the past to check email once or twice a day. These days many people are stationed at their computers and it becomes difficult to ignore the incoming email. It can become disruptive. It can also become a destructive force in the home with the urge to check email detracting from quality family time. In reality it is not something that has to be done constantly. Email can wait.
The temptation to surf the net is a bit more complicated. There is so much information available online that it is difficult for some to know when to stop looking. And while there are those who, while indulging in this form of addiction are largely passive, there are other forms of addiction that are more physically demanding.
Some people have an addiction to exercise where they exercise more than is good for them. The demanding nature and frequency of the exercise puts too much strain on their bodies and in extreme cases can cause collapse.
You could say there is a fine line between addiction and obsession. An Olympic athlete would have to train almost addictively to get ready for the kind of endurance he or she is going to need. Trainers make sure that an athlete trains in a way that does not overly exert his or her body.
Certain people become stuck in habitual thinking and are addicted to responding in a negative way. They feel that they get more attention this way. This can lead to depression, which leads to more negative behaviour. It is a non-productive cycle to be caught in and can lead to further negative actions like substance abuse.
Addictions help many people cope with emotional and physical pain. It is easier to make the pain go away than deal with the root cause.
More subtle types of addiction need to be guarded against by us being more mindful of our every thought and action.
Hopefully, it will come to light that addiction hardly ever brings about contentment. It just might take some longer to see this than others.
This guest post was written by Tess Holland on behalf of Ramot, a holistic drug and alcohol rehab centre in Cape Town, South Africa, which specialises in spiritual therapy.