Addiction is a label thrown at all manner of behaviours and given away so freely to others that it is hard to make sense of what it actually is. For most, the first thoughts tend to be around alcohol and heroin. These are highly addictive substances and they do wreak havoc in the lives of those affected as well as getting a lot of press. But there are many areas to addiction and these include, in no particular order:

Drugs, gambling, sex, food, alcohol. These are the primary addictions. Secondary addictions include: smoking, co-dependency, anger, intensity, some forms of depression etc.To be given the label of an addict is one thing, easily done by someone who feels they know you or feel that they can judge you, but to take the responsibility for the title of Addict is another thing, entirely.

What is an addiction and how do you recognise the addictive personality with in your self if it is what you are feeling is a possibility or reality?
If your behaviour is causing you emotional or physical pain, discomfort or torment, then it can be called an addiction.
If you have been trying, without success, to control your behaviour, then it can be given the label of an addiction.
If you have controlled your behaviour, or acting out, in one area but it has changed into something else then it can take the label of addiction. For instance: you have stopped drinking but are using drugs or medication to suppress feelings. You may have stopped taking drugs, prescribed or illegal, and are using the internet for pornography or cruising for prostitutes because you need a huge jump in how you are feeling. These are examples of how the addictive personality shifts its’ focus in endless attempts to be satiated.

You may already be in “recovery” from addiction and this can take many forms; in 12 Step work recovery would mean total abstinence from drugs or alcohol. You could not be considered clean or sober if you were using one or the other. But there are now several other approaches to managing drug and alcohol addiction and these include controlling the intake of certain substances or switching to less harmful versions; for example using methadone instead of heroin, not taking cocaine and only using marijuana. This route is helpful to some, and can temporarily reduce the emotional torment, but in the long run the addictive personality will find a way to act out again, usually with worse consequences than before as it is an ever widening spiral of behaviours.

The title or label of Addict is for those who know, deep inside, that they are destroying themselves emotionally and on a deep, soul level. That there has to be more, they are out of control and it is a hideous, dark place to spend any time, let alone to exist on a semi permanent level. The moment of change is the realisation that there is more and the only choice is to  give up the addiction and take responsibility for the way forward.

This is a huge moment. That first step, that seed in the thinking process leads to changes and experiences, people, places and epiphanies beyond your wildest dreams. I know that this is a big step and requires thought, especially if you have constructed your life, secretly or out in the open, around it. Be it gambling, sex, prescribed drugs, alcohol or a relationship you have to find a way to stop what is hurting you.