Understanding Addiction: What Family Members Need to Know
Addiction, simply defined, involves three criteria that medical professionals use for diagnostic reasons. Those are craving for substance or a behavior, an inability to set reasonable limitations, and continued use or action, despite negative consequences. Now, what a lot of folks don’t realize is that addiction goes far beyond substance abuse. Behaviors too can be addictive. For instance, one modern addiction that individuals cope with is video game addiction. Of course, many adults and kids play and enjoy video games all the time, and they do so without it interfering with their life or ending up with negative consequences for it. So how do health professionals make the diagnosis of addiction in something as seemingly innocuous as video games? It’s by assigning those three criteria to the behavior.
Components of Addiction
It helps for us to get a sense of how simple behaviors like playing video games can be addictive, when discussing broader issues of addiction. The reason for this is that addiction has both psychological and physiological components. For an individual who is playing video games in an addictive manner, the behavior begins to interfere with their day-to-day lives. Their personal hygiene may lapse. Their social relationships may become impacted. Their ability to hold a job may be at risk. In all instances, it impacts their lives in negative ways that they recognize as detrimental, and yet are powerless to stop.
Many times family members react to these sorts of behaviors as if they are a moral weakness on the part of the addict. Whatever logic such a sentiment has, its impact in curtailing the behavior will be unsuccessful. Addicts have a tendency to be ashamed of their behavior already. While it is common sense to emphasize the role of personal choice in the matter, the more we learn about neuropsychology, the more we realize that intervention is a key to the successful recovery of the addict, and this is more true of those with substance abuse issues.
Addiction and Substance Abuse
Substance abuse issues generally require more than just support groups and positive reinforcement to overcome. When you look at the very serious impact of video game addiction on young adults and teens, you can see the psychological impact of addictive disorder. When you compound that with chemically addictive substances, while many of the neuropsychological insights remain valid, the chemical addiction must be addressed first.
The danger here is that we treat the chemical addiction without creating the support structure necessary to fight the psychological addiction, which will remain long after the physical dependency has been managed.
You Need to Know
What’s important to recognize is that many successful, intelligent, and capable people struggle with addiction. They struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, video game addiction, and even sex addiction. For those that haven’t struggled with addiction and been able to manage their leisure time without it overtaking their lives, it’s very difficult to empathize with what addicts are dealing with. Imagine someone nagging you throughout the day to take that drink or place that bet. It’s important that we restrain ourselves from being overly judgmental. Support is about encouragement, not punishment, and overcoming the psychological aspects of addiction, is often more difficult than managing the physiological dependency.