If we start by defining an addiction as "anything that we habitually use to alter our emotional state," then we can begin to characterize many things as potential addictions: drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, pornography, food, work, shopping. The list is seemingly endless.
- Do you consistently avoid feelings of emptiness by losing yourself in whatever gives you pleasure?
- Do you feel guilty about certain habitual behaviors? How often do you think about quitting them for good?
- Are you honest with others about how often you engage in these behaviors, or do you try to hide them?
Most people aren't aware of their addiction until the problem has become severe. Many addicts have to hit bottom and break through their denial before there is a willingness to seek treatment. Unfortunately, addictions are barriers to emotional intimacy in romantic relationships.
In our efforts to soothe our pain, we become secretive and defensive about our actions. We might be hide our addiction for years before things become bad enough to be noticed by loved ones. At that point, the habits become so ingrained that it becomes difficult to stop the behavior.
If you are struggling alone and in secret, please consider reaching out to me. I'd like to help.