“My Strange Addiction” – My CNU Captain’s Log Newspaper Article #3
The nature of addiction is an interesting one. While some indulge in caffeine and sweet treats, others obsess with cleanliness and fitness or crave technology, gossip, work, laughter—even affection or conversation. While it holds a common, clinical connotation of misuse and abuse, our American culture has somewhat desensitized the word and birthed an alternative connotation comparable to that of “enthusiast.” With such linguistic progression, its important to understand the difference between the two and the arguably minuscule line that separates them. Additionally, regardless of your status as an “addict” or “enthusiast,” we must understand the pros and cons of common “addictions” or indulgences.
CNU’s highly respected Counseling Services Department and their Executive Director Bill Ritchey gave insight to the troubles that plague the school. Here at CNU, according to an informal survey, food consumption and social addictions seem to be the most popular.
Fact: food is amazing. At times we all need a pick-me-up and having that big tray of delicious fresh-baked, soft, chewy chocolate chip cookies or the tall ice-cold sweet cherry flavored Slurpee really does the trick. In fact, on CNU’s campus sweet treats seem to be one of the most popular addictions—just after caffeine (thanks a lot Einstein’s). One indulgent even commented: “The more diabetic risk the better.”
In discussion with Ritchey, most common food addicts suffer a similar pitfall: the crash. It’s OK to have a fun night of gratification every now and then, but when it becomes a daily or even weekly event there may be a problem. BUT BEWARE! Being a health-crazed, calorie counter isn’t for the best either. Any nutritionist will tell you that the existence of “good fats” is not a myth. Plus, what’s life without a few tasty exceptions here and there? It’s all about a balance and having the courage and capacity to comprise and negotiate what is appropriate.
Social addictions are more or less the same. The name of the game is balance. Affection and conversation are basic components of human existence. But there are times and places deemed appropriate for varying levels and types of interaction. What about those who have mediated social addictions—i.e. smartphones and social media sites like Tumblr and Facebook? Ever wake up and just got to have your 3G? I hope not, that would be sad. Technology is great because it keeps us connected. But there is a difference between being connected and being consumed. Smartphones and social media are all tools to reach an end. They are channels through which we reach a larger need or want to feel a sense of belonging and acceptane with the greater ideal and collective humanity. In any situation, what is important to realize is the presence of multiple channels and use them all, not becoming dependent on one.
What’s the difference between being an “enthusiastic indulgent” and a “consumed addict?”
The keys are self-control, mentality and willpower. The mentality comes from your environment. Willpower comes from a combination of that mentality and self-control. As previously mentioned, it’s important to understand that addictions come in context. No indulgence is inherently bad. This includes everything from cake and candy to coffee and alcohol. Understand that everything has its place and purpose and that seriously debilitating addictions are created from the substance’s interaction with its user. Thus anything has the potential to be an addiction and what is negative or debilatative for one is not necessarily bad for another. For example, while an introvert is exhausted by interaction and recharges by being alone, the extrovert recharges with interaction and is exhausted in solitude. What is negative, debilitating or addicting to one can be influential to the other.
Addiction is about perspective and context within a lifestyle as well as the span of one’s self control. No indulgence is inherently bad or an inevitable addiction.
How does one escape addiction?
It’s easy to say “have self-control”— that’s action. In truth, the key to overcoming an addiction is mentality. Addictions are a state of mind that warp fluid, dynamic reality into a fixed, skewed perspective. Become aware by examining your perspective and values. True addiction is that state of being stuck and unable to see beyond the limited world created by craving. Reality is that of a fluid and dynamic essence. Consider opportunity cost. Consider what your missing out on because of your indulgence. Remember to think of addictions as misuse and abuse. As such, anything can be an addiction. But, everything has its place and purpose. Acknowledging context and embracing self-control, one can transverse any addiction.
Do you really NEED caffeine to pay attention or to do that paper? Do you REALLY work better when you procrastinate and are under pressure? Or have you constructed a world where this is the only pattern you know? Ritchey suggests viewing the difference between the therapeutic and the toxic. If you notice that your indulgence is the common element in many of your darkest hours then perhaps it’s truly a toxin and an addiction.