You have probably taken those addiction tests – we tend to label everything from shopping to sex to time online as an addiction. On the downside, the addiction model takes personal responsibility away from the individual and puts the problem in some neurological grey zone. It has a slippery slope that leads to the very dangerous victim mentality.
However, the addiction model has some useful pieces when we think about everything as an addiction – some things negative and other things positive. Addictions can lift us out of our everyday boredom. Alcohol can do that, and so can distance running or meditation. Addictions can be used to calm or soothe jangled nerves. Smoking can do that and so can chanting and yoga.
Body-focused Repetitive Disorders can be thought of as behavioral addictions. Hair-pulling can calm and soothe. Non-suicidal cutting is generally done in solitude. Pulling, picking and cutting interfere with daily life and relationships. The negative effects range from cosmetic to life-threatening ( trichobezars, deep infection).
The key to stopping a behavioral addiction is to replace it with a positive behavior that is a satisfying as the pulling or picking. Bored? Try to remember what you used to do that made you feel happy and alive …. try some activities offered in your community. You can always sign up for starter sessions. Keep with it for 3-6 weeks to give yourself enough time to make the new behavior a new habit. A positive addiction if you will.
Not every activity has the potential to become a positive addiction. The behavior should take effort – you have to make time to fit it into your schedule. You have to be able to get better at it – there are levels of proficiency that you can reach with effort and practice. It is something you do alone – you can do it with a group (Zumba class), but the activity itself is not dependent on the group. It isn’t a team activity – every member of the group acts individually.
Has you habit become an addiction? Yes, if it relieves boredom, soothes you, takes time away from regular activities, causes problems in your relationships, feel anxious whenever the topic comes up or someone asks about it.
Do you regret that you can’t stop? Have you tried to stop and failed? Finally, do YOU think it is a problem? If so, make a decision to reach out for help, learn more about your behavior and how to cut down or quit.
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