Addictions are real
First off, addictions are very real. Whether it is a serious addiction, like to drugs or alcohol, or even if it is an addiction to something like video games or shopping, we all must realize how real and life altering they can be.
When someone has a true addiction, it can get to the point where they feel they have no control over their addiction. And in some cases they may actually have very little control over what is going on with their addiction. Many people get to the point where they are literally controlled by the addiction.
This may be a psychological dependence (they don’t know how to handle the stresses of life, etc without their addictive drug or activity). Or this may actually become a physical dependence. Many drugs are physically addictive. Our bodies can get to the point where they can’t function without them.
Again, whether someone has a literal physical addiction, or an emotional dependence on a particular drug or activity, we all (the addicts themselves and those around them) must understand that addictions are very real, with very real causes, and consequences.
There are many different types of addictions
There are many different types of addictions. When many of us think of the word addiction, our minds immediately go to substance abuse. Addictions to alcohol, drugs (both illegal and pharmaceutical), and smoking. But those are not the only types of addictions that people suffer from.
While alcohol and drug addictions may be some of the most common addictions, many times with the most serious effects, there are other addictions that are just as real. Addictions to shopping, gambling, food, video games, pornography, the Internet, etc are growing in occurrence and severity.
There are now support groups (many of them patterned after the 12-Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous) that have been created specifically for overeating, gambling, and even shopping addictions. Again, it is important to understand that, even if an addiction isn’t substance related, it can still be very serious.
You must get to the root of the problem
Addictions have many different causes. One person’s addiction may be completely different than what caused another to become addicted to the very same thing. It is not just that someone “fell in with the wrong crowd.” Understanding this is important, because in order to overcome an addiction (or help a loved one overcome an addiction), you must get to the root of the problem.
Again, addictions are caused by many different things. Some experts believe that addictions are genetic, meaning that an individual was born with a genetic predisposition to that particular thing. They believe that once that person comes in contact with that substance, they will (because of their genetics) become immediately addicted to it.
Others believe that we inherit personality traits that give us the predisposition to become addicted… an “addictive personality.” Many others believe that it is each person’s individual personality and experiences that lead them to their addictions.
Either way, it is important to work to identify and address whatever the causes were for that particular person developing the actual addiction. It is not enough to simply address the addiction. You can’t just keep them away from the substance or activity for a prolonged period of time and assume that without exposure the addiction will completely go away. In most cases, if you are not also addressing what lead that person to the addiction in the first place, odds are the addiction will come back.
An addict can’t do it alone
No addict can overcome an addiction alone. This is important for the addict to understand, as well as for their loved ones around them to understand. Some addicts may even need to seek out professional help to overcome their addiction. Either way, a support system is a must when trying to beat an addiction.