Millions of people suffer from addictions.
From alcohol to drugs to gambling, there are a number of different addictions that can take over a person’s life. Addiction is not a solitary disease. It ruins families and breaks up homes; it devastates spouses, children, and parents. Even the happiest family can be torn apart by an addiction.
Addictions can take hold before a person is even aware of what is going on. What starts out as a harmless habit or an innocent hobby soon becomes a dangerous compulsion. For example, a glass or two of wine with dinner might become a bottle or two, and suddenly drinking no longer is a way to unwind but a way of life. Or a person who likes playing a little online poker suddenly finds himself staying up until 5 a.m. playing poker all night and essentially flushing his family’s finances down the drain. It’s a common tale, and unfortunately, it can happen to anyone.
Addictions are not biased. They impact people of every race, religion, culture, social status, or gender. Although people often think of an addict as someone living on the street or someone who is barely holding it together, the opposite is often true. There are many high-functioning addicts who look and seem completely normal, if not downright successful and powerful. They have good jobs, they take care of their appearance, and they can present a white-picket-fence image to the world around them. No one knows of the pain, loneliness, and isolation buried deep within, nor do they know of the addiction that was developed in an attempt to soothe that suffering.
Addiction at its core is nothing more than a self-soothing technique that an addict uses to treat emotional pain. Although the addiction is unhealthy and damaging on a physical and emotional level, it is actually being used as a coping mechanism. People often wrongly assume that the addiction is the addict’s main problem, when in reality, the addiction is merely a symptom. The real problem is the driving force behind the addiction, the pain and suffering that causes the person to reach out for a drink in the first place.
Of course, many people enjoy drinking, just as many people enjoy gambling, pornography, and shopping. In moderation, these behaviors are not dangerous and adults can enjoy them safely. However, when one of these behaviors becomes an obsession, it then turns from a mere hobby into an addiction. When a person chooses alcohol over his family, health, and well-being, then it’s a clear sign that the addiction has taken hold and it is no longer just a “guilty pleasure” or a vice.
If you aren’t sure if you have an addiction, then look at your behavior when you are using your drug of choice (whether it’s cocaine, alcohol, sex, pornography, etc.). Do you feel anxious or irritable when you don’t have access to it? Do you have trouble setting limits for yourself when you are using your addictive substance? Is your behavior damaging to your relationships, your reputation, and your health? If you answered yes to these questions, then you have a problem. Even if you haven’t become a full-blown addict, you are headed down a dangerous and destructive path. Seek help through a 12 Steps program or at www.addicted.com.
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