Do you ever have the feeling I can never have just one? Baffled by those lucky ones who can enjoy a sociable drink without the consequences? Whatever your vice may be- alcohol, drugs, gambling, it could even be food, gaming or sex- if you have an addictive personality anything can spiral out of control. Since I was a child I have always felt the need to engage in impulsive behaviours, from binge-eating habits to drinking excessively at a young age to delving in drug use. Here I express how I feel I identify with an addictive personality. I look at what makes those prone to addiction and explore ways to channel these traits into a positive mindset rather than a destructive one in the hope people can see there is a way of living to your potential with an addictive personality.
What make those prone to addiction? Is it genes, environment or both?
Genes- As someone who comes from a family of addiction, and have seen this replicated pattern many times over – I believe addictive personalities can run in families. Not to say in the form of an “addictive gene” as such, but through learned behaviour and traits. Perhaps that is the way we have seen our parents or loved ones cope in the past, so in times of stress we replicate their behaviour- even if we know this may not have been the most rational or effective solution.
Environment- A persons environment can make a someone prone to addiction. This could include; where you live or who you associate with. Maybe you are easily influenced by others? The more self-aware you become the more beneficial this is for you. Even if you are easily influenced, ultimately you are still in control of your own actions and are responsible for your decisions.
Stress- The world can be a scary old place, I mean Donald Trump is President of US, fgs. Some are simply more tooled up than others to deal with this big bad world we live in. Those who are less equipped to deal with the day-to-day stresses of life may be more vulnerable to addiction, and so turn to whatever their vice in times of need to relieve stress.
Lack of coping skills- Coping skills are developed through childhood and are essential for managing the stresses of everyday life. Those who are prone to addiction often lack the ability to deal with stress. Imagine trying to make it through 2016 without a good set of coping skills. I think we’d all be hitting the bottle.
Search for instant gratification- Do you just get “the urge”? Act with impulse? Are you always looking for something to “fill you up”? These are common traits in people with addictive personalities. Try and challenge your thoughts. Give it a minute or two before you act upon your impulses, often you’ll find they will go away or at least calm down.
Lack of fulfillment- If you don’t feel like your life has purpose or can’t find a reason to get up in the morning it is really easy to go into a downward spiral.
Johann Hari’s Ted Talk Everything you know about addiction is wrong, gives good insight to better ways we can treat addiction. He references Bruce Alexander’s Rat Park study in which two rat cages both were given two water bottles in their cage, one was water and one was heroin or cocaine. One of the cages had nothing but a rat living alone in its cage, and the other was deemed “Rat Park”. Rat Park is literally paradise for these little guys- they have coloured balls, tunnels, the best cheese-boards in town and lots of friends to share the rat-love with. What more could they want?
In Rat Park, the rats tried both water bottles as they were unaware what was in them. However they did not like the drugged water, none of the rats became heavy users. This was a stark contrast to the isolated rats as they all became heavy drug users.
The findings from this experiment was replicated in a real-life experiment… the Vietnam War. In which America was expecting to be welcoming back a bunch of addicted soldiers as Time magazine reported using heroin was “as common as chewing gum” among US soldiers. However around 95 percent of the addicted soldiers simply stopped taking the highly addictive drug, with very few needing rehab. The soldiers had moved from a traumatic cage to a pleasant one, so were no longer seeking solace in a substance. That is the thing in life, sometimes we need things to get us through the pain- but we must know when to give it up and move on.
Check out Johann Hari’s Ted Talk, it’s worth a watch!
BE ADDICTED TO LIFE
So to quote Mark Renton in Trainspotting 2 it’s ok if you’re an addict. Just be addicted to something else. There’s nothing wrong with identifying with an addictive personality, accept it and move on. The most important thing to remember is always know your strengths and work them in your favour.
Why not channel your compulsiveness? Be positively impulsive!
If you feel like you can’t cope and cannot speak to the people around you, express yourself in other ways. Blogging has helped me express myself a lot and get many things off my mind without feeling like burdening others- as well as making many new friends along the way! If that’s not up your street, perhaps you could write, draw, paint or sing? Challenge yourself, exercise or join a class. Always dreamed of starting a business? There’s no time like the present. Get innovative! Get a new hobby, do something you’ve never done before. Volunteer. The possibilities are endless. Any of these things will give you instant gratification and fulfillment without the consequences of the previous behaviour!
Seek thrills each day
Big or small. Get up each day and go outside. Make an effort to see new things. Go places you’ve never been before. I bet there is loads of things to do right on your doorstep. You don’t have to go far to find an adventure. Travel the world if that’s what you want to do or if you’d rather go on a nice holiday, either way it’s better than wasting money on cigarettes, alcohol, takeaways or drugs isn’t surely?
Do something new each day. Even if it’s something little. Notice what is new and different in the world around you. Appreciate it.
Whatever you do, ensure you live with purpose. Find what makes you happy. Surround yourself with loved ones and be present in your relationships. This way you will be able to live to your potential and enjoy a fulfilled life.
Choose your future