You're an Addict, Too

Published on January 20, 2016

Picture this: someone walks up to you today and, quite matter-of-factly, informs you, “You’re an addict.”

How would you react? You might recoil and bristle in indignation. You might wonder at the sanity of this person, and not without reason either. Why, you hardly drink at all save for special occasions, and the only time you stepped into a casino was because you had, inevitably, to use the bathroom!

The term “addiction” is indeed most commonly associated with substance dependencies, struggles with vices such as gambling falling second-in-line.  While these compellations are highly prevalent, another reason they quickly come to mind owes to that they too happen to be explicitly observable types of behaviors.

Smoking discreetly, for example, is not very plausible unless one has figured out a way to light up a cigarette without the emission of smoke. The telltale trace of whisky on one’s breath immediately flags an alcoholic, along with his or her preceding activities.

Yet, addictions can manifest themselves in more covert, stealthy ways that are easier to conceal from the rest of the world. Among many, these include online gaming and pornography. While the latter is to be discouraged at all, engaging these behaviors in moderation and excision of self-control is not set in stone to result in serious repercussions. The same applies for the usage of substances - enjoying a glass of wine or two seems quite justified after a long, hard week at work.

When these behaviors begin to disrupt daily life however, they become what we know as addictions. Even something as seemingly innocuous as Candy Crush can turn into an intrusive source of dysfunction. An office-going, regular businessman may find himself overwhelmed with the urge to proceed to the next level, crippled and unable to work on anything else when thwarted. An average, school-attending teenager starts to maniacally request for “lives” from friends on social media, refusing to participate in family dinner or homework until said task has been accomplished. Sometimes, this could mean failing to do so at all.

The kinds of behaviors that are considered addictions also vary according to changing societal norms.

Shopping for wants rather than needs for instance, is a widely accepted leisure activity on a global scale. A little indulgence never harmed anyone – unless the desire to acquire and consume material goods mutates into an excessive preoccupation, leaving little left to pay the utility bills.

With the display of narcissism having been normalized across social media, looking good is a necessity for some. In a world where aesthetic appearances are of paramount importance, plastic surgery is fast on the rise.

Once again, seeking a confidence booster need not be catastrophic. What begins as a one-off procedure can however, insidiously mutate into a psychological obsession with modifying one’s physical form, despite negative consequences tied to repeated operations. Anyone banking on the surgical alteration of facial or bodily features to bring about revolutionary life changes should consider a recent study: The findings show that while patients who had undergone facelift surgery rated themselves to look younger, there was no improvement in self-esteem.

The research holds an important philosophical lesson. Perhaps, placing all of one’s self-worth behind the asset of looks is akin to putting all of one’s money into a beautiful boat with a tiny but irreparable hole; one day, that asset would be lost.  

Why then, are we drawn to repeatedly engage in behaviors that are counterproductive? We all need a channel for coping with life stressors, and feeling anxious or depressed are the most commonly cited reasons for persistent addictions.  

Clearly though, engaging in these activities do not intersect the pre-existing issues that in some way or other led up to the behaviors themselves. As earlier mentioned, plastic surgery failed to change how patients felt about themselves. Gambling, Candy Crush and alcohol do little more than sooth our pains for the short-term. Like trying to remedy a gushing wound with a band-aid, the real problem remains unsolved, at best temporarily suspended.

Each of us regularly do a thing or two that may not have the best outcomes psychologically, physically, and socially. Before you quickly defend against being an addict, consider this: Might you be holding on to a false security blanket? One that secretly chokes you while you’re not looking? Embarking on the search for a source of comfort that does not suffocate you behind your back (or leak through the bottom of a sinking boat) is a long and arduous journey. Nonetheless, it is one you may find worth your while.


Author's note: All pictures used in this article were self-illustrated. If you happen to want to reproduce them elsewhere (though I can't imagine why), please feel free to do so with a link back to this page. 



Category(s):Addictions, Drug Addiction, Gambling Addiction, Love addiction

Written by:

Maryann Wei

Maryann is commencing the 4th year (Hons) in her Bachelor`s degree in Psychology (University of Wollongong, Australia). Preceding this, she was blessed with an internship opportunity at Scott Psychology Centre, where the experience proved far more fulfilling than its duration may suggest.

In her free time, Maryann attempts to wax lyrical - but ends up being mostly dreary and melancholic - at

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