Addiction, take 1

How do I know if I’m addicted to something?
If you can’t stop doing something, you’re addicted to it.

I can’t stop drinking water; am I a dihydrogen monoxide addict?
No. Being thirsty is your body’s way of telling you that you need water, and drinking water is a legitimate way to quench your thirst.

So how do I tell the difference between a legitimate need and an addiction?
Well, when people are addicted to things, consuming them becomes more important than having their life work. They’ll miss work and break the law to get the thing they’re addicted to.

After hurricane Katrina, people missed work to break into stores and steal bottled water.
Right, but again, water is a legitimate need. You’ll die without it.

So “you’ll die without it” is the test for whether something is addictive or not? You’ll die without food, but don’t people become addicted to eating? And what about sex? You won’t die without sex, but we don’t call you a sex addict until you’re David Duchovny.
You only need so much food; after a certain point, your bodies need for nourishment is filled and the benefit of eating more decreases. You won’t die without sex, but it’s an important part of the human experience, and there are consequences to living without it as far as your quality of life is concerned.

Sure! I like sex; I’d like to have sex all the time. How do I know where to draw the line between my legitimate need for sex and addiction?
Well, there’s the point of diminishing returns mentioned earlier. Also, when an action is performed out of addiction, it actually tries to serve some other, unrelated need that it can’t fill–booze, for example, can’t keep you company, but sometimes people drink because they’re lonely.

Lastly, there’s the issue of dependency and withdrawal, which only applies to some chemical addictions, like nicotine or heroin. Once the body is used to the chemical, it can’t function normally without it; removing the substance creates unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

3 thoughts on “Addiction, take 1

  1. Kirby Greene says:

    Also there are two different types of addiction. Physical and Psychological. Physical addiction takes place when a substance is taken in that tricks the body into thinking it needs that substance. That is why Meth is so addictive and can get you after one hit, because your body is fooled into thinking that the Meth is a vital resource when it isn't, it's a poison. Sort of how Carbon Monoxide bonds to hemoglobin better then oxygen, and so while carbon monoxide is in your blood, you suffocate, cause the blood won't take in oxygen until the CM is out. But that isn't addiction, it's just regular poisoning.

    The second type of addiction, psychological, happens when you take in a substance or perform an act (yes, you can become addicted to actions (hence sex addiction)and your mind associates it with such pleasure that you feel compelled to perform the act or take in the substance again, due to a psychological or emotional need. Strangely enough, Marijuana more often then not leads to a Psychological addiction rather then physical, and there is a theory that the illegality of it is part of the cause of that addiction. Nobody I know of has had unpleasant withdrawal symptoms of quitting or stopping marijuana.

    Withdrawal symptoms from Physical addiction can include: Headaches, nausea, irritability, tendencies towards violence (esp in order to get more of the substance), tremors, delirium, temporary dementia, and death.

    Psychological withdrawal symptoms tend to be more emotional, but can get physical in the case of a psychosomatic defense mechanism. Symptoms include: Sadness, Depression, moodiness, intense desire for substance or act, muscle pain or headaches.

    This is part of addiction as I understand it. If I am misinformed or simply wrong, the Blog Master may feel free to delete my post. He has my permission.

  2. Interesting read. I'll think about it…while sitting here with a sense of superiority while playing solitaire for only five more hours and sipping my Mountain Dew…

  3. I've listened to and read some interviews with sexual therapists (sexual health and education has recently become a major interest in my life) and there's some debate on whether or not to even call it addiction. Some would rather have addiction be limited to chemical dependencies which have a physiological impact on your body causing you to crave something that you don't need (or at levels that you don't need). Something like sexual addiction may be better described as sexual 'compulsion' where there is a psychological desire to have something to the point that it has a clearly negative and persistent impact on a persons life. That last part is very important. If you flip through the DSM IV (is V out yet?) anyone can find traits in themselves indicative of several disorders but ultimately you wouldn't actually get diagnosed with them unless they have managed to clearly negatively impact your life repeatedly.

    I get left and right mixed up and letters can get scrambled but not to the point where I have trouble in school or in communicating hence I do not have dyslexia.

    I used to have a horrible self-image and purged…once maybe twice. Bad decisions but it was not persistent and so hence I did not have an eating disorder.

    Now if you're consistently not taking care of yourself in order to have sexual gratification then there's probably a sexual compulsion/addiction somewhere in there.

    At the same time there's the fact that sex is a basic physiological need (see Maslow's hierarchy of needs) which actually comes before safety needs. It can explain why people will sometimes go into dangerous situations for sex. Still a healthy person will have the entire hierarchy of needs met.

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