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What is addiction?

Look up the word ‘addiction’ in any dictionary, and you’ll come across a definition more or less like this:

“addiction – noun
The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.”

(Adapted from the Random House Dictionary, 2011)

Life is rarely as black-and-white as a dictionary definition. Addiction is a personal thing. No two cases of addiction are identical. The combinations of personal circumstance, influences, pressures, stresses and other external factors that can lead an individual to an addiction are infinite.

Even though each individual experience of addiction differs from the next, some factors of addiction remain constant throughout them all.

Addiction is controlling

No matter whether you are addicted to chocolate or to heroin, if your desire to obtain or use the subject of your addiction has become your primary focus and overcomes all of the other personal considerations in your life, such as work, family or activities you once enjoyed, you can be sure that the addiction is in control.

You are not to blame for your addiction

Nobody ever woke up one morning and thought “Wow – I’d really like to get addicted to something today!” Addictions tend to be stealthy. They prey on human vulnerabilities and take advantage of situations. Addictions offer up the irresistible temptation of an alternative way of life that is somehow preferable to the one you already lead.

You are not to blame for this. You are not guilty of a crime because you suffer from an addiction. Each and every one of us encounters situations in daily life from which we would like to find an easy escape. Each of us deals with these situations in different ways. You are no less a human being if your chosen method of coping with difficult circumstances led to an addiction.

Addiction is harmful

The hazardous implications for your mental and physical health as a result of substance dependency and abuse are well documented. But addiction can be harmful in ways that are not as easily recognized as the onset of visible physical deterioration.

Addiction can destroy relationships. Addiction can lead to criminal activity. Addiction can lead to the loss of your employment. Addiction can lead to financial ruin.

These are the risks arising from addiction. They are not certainties. And they can be avoided altogether if you choose to seek help for your addiction.

Addiction is an illness, not a weakness

It is all-too-easy to label someone with an addiction as weak-willed, or inadequate or somehow inferior. But addiction is an illness. If you contract flu, you may become bed-ridden and incapable of carrying out your normal daily functions for a period of time. Does contracting flu make you weak-willed, inadequate or inferior? No. You didn’t invite flu upon yourself any more than you did an addiction.

Addiction can be beaten

Addiction is not invulnerable. You absolutely do not have to be enslaved to your addiction. Addiction can be beaten. Addiction can be recovered from. No matter how low, or alone or lost your addiction makes you feel, the truth is that it does not have to be like this for you.

Addiction is an illness, and illnesses can be treated. Everyday, hundreds of thousands of people in situations like yours take the first and biggest step towards dumping the addiction that is controlling their life. They admit to themselves that they have a problem, and they commit to seeking help for their addiction.

Taking that first step, being honest with yourself and being true to yourself, is probably the hardest thing you will ever do. If you can summon up the courage to seek help for your addiction because you want it out of your life for good, then you have already begun to take the control away from your addiction. You have landed the first knockout punch.

Everybody wants to help you beat your addiction

Nobody wants to see someone that they love and care for succumb to the ravages of an addiction. Although you may not realize it yet, there are people out there who care for you, and are ready to help you through the challenging process of getting clean and returning you to the life that is rightfully yours.

You may have a partner, friends or relatives there to support you. There are doctors, nurses, counselors and therapists all of whom want to help you recover. They are not there to judge or belittle you; their only concern is to make you well again. There are self-help groups and other recovering addicts who will be only to happy to support and encourage you in your bid to regain freedom from your addiction.

You are not alone in your fight against addiction. There are so many people out there just waiting to reach out to you and give you all of the love, care, support and encouragement that you need. A better way of living is yours for the taking. Do not miss your chance.

Your life will be better without addiction. Guaranteed.

An addict’s situation is not without hope. You are not a lost cause. If you, or someone that you care about, are suffering because of an addiction, please seek professional help – you deserve a better life. And one day, hopefully, when someone asks you “What is addiction?” you’ll be able to answer, “History.”

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