Addiction's Many Faces: Unmasking Addiction in Modern Life

Addiction's Many Faces: Unmasking Addiction in Modern Life
By:Tracey Tomlinson

Addiction, More prevalent than Believed?

Addiction, what is it and how do we overcome it? 

Addiction, what is it? 

When I started looking into it I found that addiction has numerous definitions; 

“the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity”

“a brain disorder involving functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress and self control”

“a treatable chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment  and an individual's life experiences”

“compulsive behaviour which continues despite harmful consequences”

“a physiological or psychological need for a habit forming behaviour or activity”

According to a KPMG report in 2022, addiction costs Australia $80 billion dollars a year, compared to car accidents which cost Australia $27 billion dollars a year, all be it in 2017, according to the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities.

The top four suspects for addiction are; tobacco, alcohol, illicit and prescription drugs and gambling in that order. 

In this day and age I propose there are some more and common addictions that could be added to this list, in terms of people experiencing a negative habit forming or compulsive behaviour which continues despite harmful consequences. And unfortunately there is no  minimum age requirement to experience this, unlike the addiction reports and statistics I’ve looked at which include people from 14 years and above.

Food, sex/porn and screen time are categories which could be added to those above as addictive challenges that many people face. Perhaps seemingly innocent, but maybe that’s part of the problem? Whether it’s an addiction to chocolate or Netflix, none the less that thing or habit still has a negative impact on one’s well being where the behaviour is binge forming and seemingly out of one’s control.

We know too much sugar is not healthy and is in fact now called out for being one of the root causes of some debilitating illnesses, causing havoc to one’s immune system and indeed multiple bodily functions and systems. 

We also know that we are a product of the people we associate with and what we consume; the  books we read, the films we watch, the screen time we consume, the news or podcasts we read or listen to etc.

So then why do people not make better choices and how can we stop the negative behaviour before it spirals out of control and becomes even entrenched in daily life?

Better choices perhaps comes down to a few reasons;

A lack of awareness, like scrolling on social media with no purpose and then before you know it an hour or two has passed and you’ve mindlessly consumed a bunch of junk which may or may not be useful or harmful to you.

Chill out time; You deserve a reward; the day is done and you’ve given it your all, you deserve a break, some time out, so why not treat yourself to some scrolling, or a Netflix series. It’s so easy to start watching a series and 4 hours later you’re still watching as each episode rolls into the next and the characters and storyline are calling you to stay with it to find out what happens next.

But like all things in life, when we are not aware, or take the couch potato option, it doesn’t typically go very well for us. A little here and there can be argued as ok, however the issue is stopping at a little and discerning the content we consume given its impact on our attitude,  our outlook and our aspirations. One question is, Are you bringing yourself down to the lowest common denominator or up to a higher level from the content you consume? Is it raising your level of consciousness, or simply having you get comfortable with the mass consciousness?

On my quest to learn more about addiction I found several articles which refer to ways in which people can stop addiction which I have summarised with my own additions below that may be useful;

  1. Admit you have a problem. Understandably for any change to occur denial is not going to open the door to change and foster or encourage anything to change, so admitting the issue and accepting that’s where you’re at is step 1 in the process to taking control of your life back rather than continuing to look for excuses and justifications to keep doing the addictive behaviour. Own it. You are no lesser person when you do. In fact it makes you more insightful and courageous when you do
  2. Reflect on your addiction; whatever it is; sugar, Netflix, social media, or sex. How is it or has it negatively affected you and how would life improve for the better if you were to change your ways?
  3. Seek professional support. This may be a real need in extreme cases and there are residential programs for drug and alcohol support, for example, which provide peaceful, structured environments for individuals and or families to seek support.
  4. Appreciate the benefits of sobriety; what would life be like if you had control over your life and your choices again? What was life like before the addiction took hold, or what would you like your life to be like starting a new chapter, creating a new you, a new life? The details of this, the renewed self respect and respect from others, the impact on your health and wealth, friends, family, career and hobbies, your love of life may become the reason or purpose for you to change your ways.
  5. Identifying your triggers and making changes to your environment. Think about the issue or challenge you are dealing with. What do you need to, or would you like to start doing in life, and what do you need to or want to stop doing for yourself? 

Creating a list for each, along with a list of beneficial outcomes if you take up these positive changes and let go of the negative actions. You could even create a substitute list for your addiction, such as more exercise, or a substitute food or beverage like hummus, celery, carrot and crackers versus a sugar or alcohol fix. Having alternatives lined up beforehand can help you break a habit or change one in its early stages before it gets a good hold on you. Just knowing there is an alternative to choose can alter your attitude and improve the way you feel about the problem, with solutions on hand. Substitutes and solutions are much more empowering versus justifications and excuses. 

  1. Ask yourself the question; Am I living A Balanced Life? Am I drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, getting enough movement or exercise, along with nutritious food? Am I feeling good about myself and feeding myself positive language; you can do this, it’s ok, today I will do something positive for myself etc versus giving yourself a hard time about your challenges or weaknesses.
  2. Take control of your environment. Choose the people in your life carefully. You have a say about the people in your life. Have them be people you actually choose to spend time with, that you know will have a positive impact on you. Deliberately spend time in nature, going for walks in the park or at the beach, taking time out to be in positive environments which are good for you and your health.
  3. Know that you are not alone. The universe has your back, whether you remember or not. You may recall a time in life where you felt this. It may not be every day, but it’s more than likely that you’ve had the experience of knowing that something greater than you is looking out for you. Use this to your advantage; call on it and ask for help and the strength you need to make the changes you want in your life. You can do it, however big or small, you really can.

If you’d like to create more positive change in your life, you can reach out to me for a conversation on some potential next steps for how to enhance this process for yourself.

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