Changing Our View on Addiction

Alcohol_desgracia

Changing Our View on Addiction

[Article via Psychology Today. Click above for full post]

If I were to give you a pen and paper, how many types of addictions can you name? I’m not even referring to “addiction” just in the traditional sense (i.e. alcohol and drugs). I’m talking about the ever-expanding use of the word (i.e. internet addiction, gambling addiction, shopping addiction, love addiction, sex addiction, Facebook addiction, pornography addiction). With all of these categories, it can leave us confused in how we view addiction.

The truth is that when people are seen by a mental health professional, there is no formal diagnosis of “Addiction.” There used to be separate diagnoses of Substance Abuse or Substance Dependence, but now in the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual it’s simply on one spectrum – Substance Use Disorder. With this change in name also comes a new diagnostic category that includes “Addictive Behaviors.” Only gambling addiction is listed as of now, but there are others that are being studied, including internet addiction.

Where do these changes leave us, individually and as a society, in how we think about addiction? It’s hard for some to imagine how an Alcohol Use Disorder that is argued to be a “disease” is also the same as gambling, sex, or shopping. Although they are vastly different in some respects, I ask you to consider the ways in which they are exactly the same. I can illustrate this point by asking you a simple question: How do you deal with the negative events that happen in your life?

Whenever something bad happens in our lives, we arguably have 3 choices:

  1. Avoid it completely.
  2. Deal with it.
  3. Avoid it until we can rationally come up with a plan to move forward.

Each of us has probably made each of these choices at one point or another with varying levels of success. Although it sometimes feels easier to avoid situations completely, the problem arises when we avoid by numbing. A partner betrays us – we numb. We get laid off – we numb. We have a bad day – we numb. It’s natural to not want to deal with the hard truths, but not dealing with them doesn’t make it go away. You can put aloe on a sunburn; you can take a pill to get rid of the sniffles; you can put paint over rotted lumbar. However, underneath the paint job, the symptoms, and the burn is the pain you initially felt and the seed that ultimately harvested your current life circumstances. And so often what we do with that pain is what gets us caught into the addiction trap.

So whether you want to call your “drug” of choice alcohol, shopping, heroin, gambling, sex, love, internet – it doesn’t matter. We each have our own ways of coping with insecurities and life’s inevitable stressors. And it is our relationship with those stressors that can make the difference in how we numb…

[Rest of article is posted on Psychology Today. See below for link.]

Original article posted on Psychology Today. Read the rest of the post here at Psychology Today!

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Rubin Khoddam, PhD Clinical Psychology student at University of Southern California, founder of Psych Connection.

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Categories: Addiction Connection, Blogs by Rubin

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  1. The Family History of Addiction « Psych Connection

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