Most people associate addiction with alcohol, drugs or smoking, but millions of individuals suffer from numerous other types of addictions. Known collectively as addictive disorders, in addition to abuse of substances such as alcohol, drugs and smoking, individuals can also become addicted to compulsive types of behavior such as: gambling, shopping, eating, sexual activity, pornography or use of the internet. Everyone has addictive urges and sometimes gives in to them. An addictive disorder exists, however, when you cannot control your habit or behavior despite the fact that it is undermining your health, relationships, job performance, finances or your self-respect.
Self test – Do you have a problem?
If one of these behaviors has gotten out of control for you, review the symptom checklist below to recognize if your behavior has become an addictive disorder. A "yes" answer to one or more statements below may indicate a problem:
- You think about the activity a lot when you're not doing it.
- You seem unable to control the amount of time spent doing the activity.
- You keep increasing the amount of time that is spent doing the activity.
- You deny having a problem, when many things are obviously going wrong.
- You hide the activity from family and friends.
- When unable to do the activity, you become irritable, moody, tearful, angry, or hostile.
- You would rather do the activity than spend time with a family member or friend.
- You forget or ignore family events such as birthdays and visits from friends because of your involvement with the activity.
- You have extreme mood swings that are completely unpredictable.
- You blame other people for your troubles and do not take responsibility for your own actions.
- You have headaches, stomach disorders, and other unexplained and ongoing physical symptoms.
- You begin to neglect your appearance or engage in risky behavior or illegal acts.
What to do
Whether you have reached the "addiction" stage or not, recognizing and admitting that your habit is negatively impacting your life is the first step toward overcoming it. You can build the strength to overcome your addiction, develop alternatives to it, and learn to live a healthy and full life.