Are There Healthy Addictions?
We know that drug and alcohol addiction can be deadly, which is the extreme, but there are also many unhealthy addictions. Here’s the question – are there any healthy addictions? The answer is not as clear as you might think.
People addicted to drugs, alcohol, food, gambling and sex have an unhealthy disease. Their compulsion to over-indulge is very powerful. With drugs, alcohol and food, there is an overwhelming psychological and physical craving. With gambling and sex, there is more of a psychological component since the body does not become “dependent” on gambling and sex, although it may feel like it.
By Kevin Gormley, Vice President, Clinical and Medical Operations, Clean Recovery Centers
People with unhealthy addictions feel compelled to carry out their addictive behaviors because their brains are not functioning as designed. Areas of the brain responsible for judgment are largely blocked and primitive areas are running the show. Without the substance, addicts feel restless, irritable, discontent and are unable to live in the present, hence they project or dwell in the past.
Brain chemicals responsible for feelings of contentment are not produced in a normal manner. The person in active addiction can only feel “ok” if they continue using the substances or doing unhealthy activities. For the addict, these substances and activities are extremely harmful, and the addiction gets worse if it continues uninterrupted.
All addictions are harmful
The results and negative consequences of various addictions may differ in some ways, but they are also very similar. For example, gambling addicts lose all of their money, relationships, mental health and self-esteem. The drug addict or alcoholic may experience very similar consequences, but their physical health may be impacted as they ingest poisonous levels of these substances into their bodies.
The food addict may end up spending all their money on food, leading to isolation, lost relationships, incredibly low self-esteem and suffering tremendous physical consequences associated with obesity. The sex addict may suffer very similar consequences as they lose relationships, are unable to emotionally connect with people, spend heavily on sexual activities and also develop sexually transmitted diseases. The consequences of these addictions are very similar, and all are extremely negative.
Even the Positive
Shifting gears, what about getting addicted to the gym and working out? Surely that can’t be harmful. But actually it can be. Workout addicts can cause irreversible damage to their bodies. What about healthy eating habits? Well, if this becomes an addiction and the healthy eating habits deprive your body of what it needs, this too can be a problem.
What about becoming addicted to helping others? Again, this can be harmful if it turns into an addiction where your basic human needs are being neglected.
In short, it is probably not healthy to be addicted to anything. Life is about a healthy balance of things in moderation. If you are doing anything in excess to distract yourself from being restless, irritable, discontent or present, it may be a good idea to have a chat with a mental health therapist just to be on the safe side.