An addiction is a compulsive need to do something – usually as a result of bringing joy or relieving stress. Not all addictions are unhealthy. You can be addicted to something like music, exercise, or reading without it being a problem. However, even these addictions can become unhealthy when taken to the extreme. Knowing when an addiction has become unhealthy can be important so that you can take the right steps to tone it down (or give it up if it’s particularly harmful). Below are just some of the signs that an addiction has become unhealthy.

You’re damaging your own health

If an addiction is causing damage to your health, this is a sure sign that it is unhealthy. Most people realize that they need to tackle addictions like smoking, drinking alcohol, and hard drugs because of this reason – although often too late. It’s useful to know the early signs so that you can take action early. For instance, if you’ve started to get more out of breath when doing exercise, it could be a sign that smoking is already damaging your lungs. If you drink heavily and you’re starting to put on weight or you’ve injured yourself while drunk, this could be another sign to take action.

Even activities like exercise or reading can damage your health if you take them too far. This could include constantly developing sports injuries from overexerting yourself or suffering sleep deprivation from frequently staying up all night reading. It’s important to note that addictions can become unhealthy by causing mental health damage as well as physical damage such as anxiety or depression. 

You’re getting yourself into financial trouble

An addiction can also become unhealthy if you’re regularly spending money you don’t have on it. This could include sacrificing other important purchases, draining savings set aside for other reasons, missing bill payments, having to take out loans or having to borrow from family members to fund your habit. 

Addictions like gambling or impulse buying can quickly become unhealthy for this reason – however, people can also develop arrears and debts as a result of alcohol, smoking, drugs, food cravings, gaming or other hobbies. Think about where your budget is going and whether too much of it is going on things you don’t need.

You’re neglecting other important responsibilities

Another sign that an addiction is unhealthy is spending too much time on it to the point that you neglect important responsibilities. This could include arriving late to/taking an absence from work, failing to pick the kids up from school, or simply not spending enough time with family/friends because you’re too busy indulging in your addiction.

Heavy drinking and drug abuse can cause us to neglect responsibilities by making us more careless while under the influence and then making us ill during withdrawal. Other addictions such as hobbies can cause us to neglect responsibilities simply by forcing us to invest time in them that we can’t reasonably give to them. It’s important to prioritize time for responsibilities.

You’re breaking the law to sustain your addiction

This is another clear sign that an addiction has gone too far. If your addiction drives you to take illegal measures, it’s time to quit it. This could include driving under the influence, stealing, committing vandalism, buying/taking illegal substances, visiting illicit sites, or simply using fraudulent measures.

Substance abuse (including alcoholism) is a common way in which people break the law to sustain an addiction. In fact, other addictions can sometimes lead to substance abuse: a bodybuilding addict may take steroids to improve performance or a workaholic may take cocaine in order to regularly stay energized.  

You’re causing mental, physical, or financial harm to others

Addictions can also become unhealthy once they start causing harm to others. This could be mental or physical harm.

Many addictions can cause us to lash out at loved ones or not provide the right care. When it comes to financial harm, it could involve borrowing money from them to fund addictions and not paying it back. Strangers can also be affected by certain addictions such as hitting someone with a car while intoxicated. 

You feel ashamed of your addiction and hide it from others

You shouldn’t feel embarrassed by your passions and habits. If you do, it’s likely because your addiction is socially frowned upon and potentially unhealthy. 

This is where addictions like biting nails can become unhealthy – if you’ve bitten your nails down to the quick and take measures to hide your hands, it could be a sign that you need to stop. Heavy drinking, smoking, taking drugs, gambling, and comfort eating are other addictions that people commonly hide.

How to beat an unhealthy addiction

Beating an addiction is never easy. There are many cases where it can be beneficial to seek professional help such as seeing a counselor. You could also join support groups of online forums to connect with people also trying to give up. Alternatively, it could be worth simply opening up to loved ones and seeing how they may be able to help you. Support from others is very important for motivation whether you’re trying to stop smoking or trying to spend less time on social media.

Make sure to take measures to deal with temptations. Many people with a drug addiction check into a drug rehab center in order to get away from temptations. At home, there may be measures you can take for milder addictions such as getting rid of all snacks in the home or setting time limits on your wi-fi router to limit internet usage.

When completely giving up an addiction, it’s important that you find a healthier habit to fill the gap. Without filling the gap, there will always be a sense of emptiness and you’ll be more tempted to relapse. Examples of healthier habits may include taking up vaping instead of smoking or eating healthy snacks instead of sugary snacks.

Make sure to track your progress and reward yourself for meeting milestones. This could stop you from returning to your old ways by helping you to look forward instead of backward. There are apps that can help you with this. 

 

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Over 50 and fabulous living and writing in Appalachia

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