How to Tell If You Have an Addiction + 3 Best Practices for Breaking It

Do you ever wish you could break the compulsion to binge watch TV? Or how about an unhealthy reliance on chips and chocolate to get you through a bad day? And then there are the addictions that have a disastrous effect on our health, families, and mental stability. For example, drug abuse, alcohol use disorders, and social media anxiety are all a result of habits that have become addictions.

According to 2011 stats provided by the Addiction Center, 20.6 million US citizens over the age of 12 are plagued with addiction. Yet, only 3 million people received treatment for their addiction at places like an inpatient drug rehab center. While alcoholism is one of the most well-known forms of addiction, it is not the only type of addiction that can hurt one’s life.

What is the definition of addiction?

The American Psychiatric Association goes into depth on addictions and substance use disorders. They state that addictions are complex conditions manifested by a compulsive use of a substance regardless of the often-harmful consequence. Those with an addiction, often portray distorted thinking regarding reality and their abuse of a substance.

Substance abuse addictions include the following:

  • Overreliance on tobacco and cigarettes
  • Abuse of alcohol, marijuana
  • Abuse of sedatives, opioids, and other medications
  • Use of cocaine, methamphetamine, and other illegal drugs

The scary news? You don’t need to be addicted to a substance classified as harmful to have an unhealthy addiction.

Termed “behavioral addictions,” these include all addictions that are not substance related. For example, you could have a gambling addiction that racks up an enormous debt, causing financial hurt to yourself and your family. Sex addiction leads to a disregard of consequences and can be harmful to the relationships in your life. Pornography addiction can lead to lower sexual activity in men. Compulsive shopping is an addiction that afflicts women more than men, but its presence is felt on every level of society.

What is the common thread of all addictions?

There are common threads to all addiction types, however. Those common threads are shown when asking yourself the following questions.

  • Do you use a substance or engage in a certain behavior more often now than before?
  • Do you experience withdrawal when you are not able to indulge in that behavior or substance?
  • Have you ever lied about your behavior or substance use to anyone?

If any of the following questions result in a “yes,” then that should be a warning sign.

Substance abuse addictions should be taken seriously. Some individuals are strong enough to go cold turkey and kick a substance abuse addiction on their own. However, those who have lived with their addiction for many years may need the extra support a rehab center can provide.

The desire to change and the systems for bringing about a lasting change, however, are the same across all addiction types. Here are 3 systems to adopt to kickstart a healthier you.

  1. Get a support system. Are you the kind of person who won’t exercise unless you’re exercising with a person? Sometimes it just helps to have someone who can listen to and encourage you when you’re feeling down. Friends and your family are your support system. But also consider the benefits that going to therapy or counseling could bring to you in helping to expose addiction triggers. See next point.
  2. Understand your triggers.Often, we indulge in certain addictions when we want to escape from whatever we are feeling in the present. We may be in emotional or physical pain. We may be experiencing stress, or mental anxiety. Behavioral and substance addictions are used as a form of numbing. A way to experience other feelings than the ones we are stuck with. Knowing what puts us into that emotional place where we are reaching for comfort can help us be aware of when we are at our most vulnerable. For example, perhaps family reunions are emotionally taxing and make you feel like “clocking out.” If you know that this is a trigger, you can be better prepared to deal with it by having coping strategies in place.
  3. Belief powers progress.Kicking your addiction starts with a belief that you can change. This first step can be the hardest to take, but it is the most important. Trying to institute a change without believing you can will cause you to sabotage your progress. Mindsets matter. And it is often positive self-talk that will help you change the way you think about what is possible.