The word addiction is used to describe many different types of behavior. Some would even argue that it has become overused so much that it has lost much of its meaning. The individual who enjoys following a soap opera on the TV might say that they are addicted to the series. The same word will also be used to describe somebody who has lost almost everything to alcohol or drug abuse. It is obvious that in these two examples the word addiction is referring to different things. The problem seems to be that many people mix up the words passion with addiction.
A passion can be defined as a strong liking or desire for some activity or object. Those individuals who feel passionate about a hobby or job will be full of enthusiasm for it. They will be willing to put a great deal of effort and time into this activity because they know that they will be rewarded for this. It is this emotion of passion that has encouraged all human advancement and encouragement.
If people did not feel passionate about things it would mean that the world would be a very different place. Some of the reasons for why passion is so important include:
* It gives people the motivation to put a great deal of effort into an activity.
* It means that people are willing to sacrifice time to devote to the work.
* It is easier to accomplish something when the work involved is pleasurable.
* Passion for an activity brings people together and makes it easier for them to work towards a common goal.
* When people gain pleasure from an activity they will tend to have a more playful relationship with it. This means that they are willing to experiment and discover new things.
* It means that the individual is willing to engage in the activity even though there is no obvious monetary reward for this.
* The path to achieving any goal will usually involve setbacks and failure. It is passion that ensures that the individual is able to pick themselves up after failure and press ahead.
* Goals can appear to be too much of a challenge to those who are not passionate.
Addiction can be defined as a physical or psychological dependence on a substance – most usually a psychoactive substance. To say that somebody is physically dependent means that they will become unwell if they try to abruptly stop using the addictive substance. The individual who is psychologically dependent does not feel able to cope without alcohol or drugs.
There are important differences between passion and addiction. The individual who feels passionate about an activity will experience strong emotions that encourage them to engage in it. This does not mean that they will develop physical or psychological symptoms if they fail to engage in it. The other difference between addiction and passion is that the individual who is addicted might no longer wish to engage in the substance abuse. They know that what they are doing is highly destructive, but they feel unable to stop. Overall a passion benefits a person’s life while an addiction puts them into a downward spiral where they could lose everything.
Once addiction takes hold in a person’s life it can lead to a great deal of destruction. The dangers include:
* The individual will fail to meet their financial, family, work, and social responsibilities.
* They may do a great deal of damage to their mental and physical health.
* Many addicts become unemployable.
* Family and friends are usually harmed by the addiction.
* The individual may be verbally or physically abusive when they are intoxicated.
* Many addicts end up on the wrong side of law.
* Those people who become addicted have to endure a great deal of mental suffering.
* The addict will fail to make use of their potential.
* The longer they remain addicted the more they will lose.
* Over time the individual will even lose their own self-respect. They will also lose all hope.
* If the individual is not able to escape their addiction it will lead to death.
* Many addicts will react to their poor life circumstances by committing suicide.
The signs that an individual has become addicted include:
* Increased tolerance for alcohol or drugs. The individual needs to take more of the substance in order to get the same results.
* The individual experiences withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to abruptly stop or significantly reduce their intake of the addictive substance. In some cases these withdrawal symptoms can be life threatening.
* Lying and other unethical behavior.
* The individual feels the need to hide the extent of their substance use.
* Loss of interest in activities that once brought the individual pleasure. All they really care about now is getting high.
* Those people who are addicted spend a significant amount of time planning, obtaining, using, and getting over the effects of their substance abuse.
* Loss of interest in personal hygiene and grooming.
* Regularly missing work for unexplained illness. The individual might also be frequently late for work.
* Reduction in productivity at work. They might often be recovering from a hangover during working hours.
* Financial problems as a result of the substance abuse.
* Legal problems as a result of the substance abuse.
* Alcohol or drug abuse is obviously causing problem for the individual but they seem to be unable to stop.
* Denial is a common symptom of addiction.
* They become defensive when other people mention their alcohol or drug use.
* The individual is uncomfortable about going places unless there is going to be alcohol or drugs available.
* Alcoholics may experience blackouts where they can’t remember periods of time while they were intoxicated.
* Unexplained disappearances.
* The individual may suffer from symptoms of depression and have suicidal thoughts.
* The addict will usually experience severe mood swings. There may be times where they are excessively talkative and happy but at other times they will be paranoid and negative.
In most cases the addict will only experience some of these symptoms. The longer people stay addicted the more negative symptoms will appear.
Addiction rips the life of the individual apart so it is vital that they quit this behavior as soon as possible. It is often stated that the addict has to hit rock bottom before they will be willing to accept help. There is some truth in this statement but this is often mistaken to mean that the individual will need to lose everything before they can get better. This is definitely not the case. There are many individuals who hit rock bottom but have lost relatively little in their life. The person only has to lose as much as they are prepared to lose. It is like they are a passenger in a descending elevator, and it is up to them where they get off.
There are a number of ways that an individual can escape and addiction including:
* An addiction therapist can help those individuals who are in denial about their situation see the reality. These professionals are trained to gently guide people towards the truth.
* Those individuals who have already built a life in recovery can help the practicing addict see what is happening and inspire them to choose sobriety.
* Entering rehab is a good option for those who have decided to build a life away from substance abuse. Not only will they have a safe and projected environment where they can pass through withdrawals, but they will also be surrounded by the resources they will need to build a good life in recovery.
* Recovery groups not only offer fellowship and emotional support, but they can also provide the individual with a program that will help them build a life away from addiction.
* Many individuals benefit from therapy in recovery. This allows them to discover what drove them to addiction in the first place so they can avoid making the same mistake in the future.
What some people mean when they say that a passion has turned into an addiction is that the behavior of the individual has become self-destructive. They have become so obsessed with their passion that it has begin to interfere with their ability to live a normal life. This state of fears is unhealthy and it should be avoided. Passion is a wonderful thing to have, but it should be tempered with a bit of balance. A truly rewarding life is well rounded and includes many different aspects. As the saying goes, people should always avoid putting all their eggs in one basket. Sometimes the line between passion and addiction can become a bit blurred.