How do you know if a particular substance or behavior has become a problem in your life? Culturally, there is a variety of misconceptions about substance abuse and addiction. The term addiction has been used to describe the physical dependence on a particular substance (alcohol, nicotine, stimulants, etc). However, there are many compulsive behaviors which do not include the use of a particular substance but there is a state of dependence that the individual is unable to control. These include; gambling, sex addiction, cabernet addiction, compulsive eating and even negative thinking and worry.
The disease model of addictions states that an addiction is present if the individual continues using the substance or engaging in the compulsive behavior despite negative consequences in his/her life.
To determine if you may be suffering from any given physical or psychological dependency, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the behavior interfering with your life?
- Is it affecting your relationships, your work, your health, and your finances?
- Is the behavior escalating?
- Have you failed repeatedly to quit?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to seek help. These behaviors are very difficult to change on your own. There is chemical imbalance related to any addictive behavior, hence, they are extremely powerful. On the other hand, there is a strong psychological resistance to change them because there are pay-offs involved. Underlying these behaviors, there are things we are trying to either gain or avoid. It takes an enormous challenge to break the comfort of an addiction. Sometimes it takes for someone to “hit bottom” such as illness, divorce, or any sort of threat of loss in order to acknowledge the problem.