When most people hear the word addiction, they think of dependence on a substance, such as drugs or alcohol; and for good reason. Drug and alcohol use is on the rise in this country. Over 23.5 million Americans are addicted to alcohol or drugs. That’s approximately one in every 10 Americans over the age of 12 who have a significant problem with alcohol or drugs. Sexual addiction also makes it high on the list. In the digital world we live in, pornography has become easily accessible – any time, any place and sometimes, free of cost. This easy indulgence in virtual sex, has led to the increase of people wanting more of the real thing. Newsweek reported nearly 40 million Americans log onto the 4.2 million pornographic websites in existence each day.
Alcohol, drugs and pornography aren’t the only things people abuse to the point of addiction. The danger is believing that addiction only happens with things that are unhealthy, taboo or illegal. The truth is that addiction can sneak its way into our lives with anything. Here are four “mainstream” things that have the potential for addiction.
“Workaholic” is a term that’s thrown around pretty loosely these days. An individual who spends a lot of time at work and is devoted to their profession, may not necessarily be a workaholic. Workaholism is a compulsive disorder, so an addict doesn’t even necessarily have to like his or her job.
Workaholism is an emotional issue, so it’s not just about the number of hours you work; it’s about your frame of mind and the chemical processes happening in your body that reinforce the behavior. A workaholic is one who is constantly thinking about work and work-related things. Some workaholics get their high from the adrenaline released when they’re fully engaged in work. Some workaholics are performance addicts who are drawn to the praise and sense of accomplishment that comes with overworking. Many find self-worth, significance and define their whole identity in what they do.
Like any other addiction, a work addiction can negatively affect other areas of your life such as relationships with family and friends and even physical health. One problem with being addicted to work is that other people sometimes reinforce the behavior and even reward work addicts for being so focused and driven in their jobs. Our world values a strong work ethic so much so that it can be difficult to notice when a person has become addicted.
Even though the Internet has only been around for a short period of time, some people’s preoccupation with being on the Web has crossed over from being a hobby to that of being an addiction. Considering how much time most of us spend in front of our computers these days, that’s probably not too difficult to believe.
As our work, social and private lives become more and more technology driven, some of us have a hard time knowing when to power down.
A question we need to ask ourselves, “Is it possible to be plugged in too much“? Many psychologists and psychiatrists don’t generally consider Internet addiction a true addiction, but it can be a problem for some people when it involves loss of control, consumes our time and has negative consequences at work and at home. Research has been presented that seems to support the idea of Internet addiction by showing changes that take place in the brain when consumed in excess. Studies suggest that compulsive Internet use affects 6 to 14 percent of Internet users.
So what are the signs of Internet addiction? Like most other addictions, the major sign is that it interferes with your normal life. For addicts, time spent online takes priority over pretty much everything else and can start to affect relationships and work. Some studies that have been done in this area show that Internet addicts may actually go online just to feel normal and that time spent away from the Internet creates feelings of withdrawal. Addicts might also feel irritable, depressed or lonely when they’re unable to spend enough time online.
Risky Behavior Addiction
Thrill seekers share many of the same symptoms as drug addicts. They get a rush or high from skydiving, rock climbing or other high-risk activities. But, just like substance addicts, what gives them that feeling in the beginning doesn’t do it anymore. Risky behavior addicts seek out even more dangerous adventures to feel that same level of excitement. Many studies show that these thrills flood the brain with the same chemicals released by addictive drugs.
Being in love creates feelings of excitement and attachment, but addicts become overly preoccupied and even obsessed with those feelings. One type of love addiction occurs when a person becomes obsessed with a love interest. These people tend to feel as if they can’t live without the person, and that their significant other is their only source of happiness.
Another type of love addiction happens when the addict seeks to replicate the emotional high of a new relationship over and over again. When you’re in love, the body releases a bunch of chemicals that make you feel energetic, happy and motivated, such as dopamine. You also have increased levels of oxytocin, which gives you a feeling of attachment. This effect is greater early in a relationship, which is why some people who are addicted to love continually seek out new love interests in order to reproduce those early-relationship feelings.
These are only a few areas with the potential for addiction, the list could go on and on with things like gambling, shopping, plastic surgery, binge eating, etc. With any of these addictions or others that aren’t mentioned, it is important to remember these two verses.
(2 Corinthians 12:9) “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
(Hebrews 4:16) “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
God’s Grace is stronger than anything we struggle with and we can go anytime to God and receive the grace we need.