Is an addiction keeping you awake tonight?
Alcohol. Marijuana. Uppers. Downers.
Pornography. Sex. Gambling. Social Media. Surfing the internet.
People use for many different reasons. They like the feeling it gives. They want to have a good time with friends who are also using. Some people use in order to fit in with others.
Some people use when they feel stressed, anxious, depressed, or bored. Not everyone who uses becomes addicted.
But some do.
How would you know if your using has become an addiction?
The CAGE assessment is a simple, effective tool that can help you decide if your using has become an addiction. one. If “drinking” isn’t your problem, substitute the substance or activity you’re concerned about.
- C Have you ever thought you should Cut down your drinking?
- A Have you ever felt Annoyed when people have commented on your drinking?
- G Have you ever felt Guilty or badly about your drinking?
- E Have you ever had an Eye opener first thing in the morning to get rid of a hangover?
The more questions you answered yes to, the more likely it is that you’re caught in the CAGE of addiction.
Alcohol and other substances aren’t the only things people can become addicted to.
Pornography, sex, gambling and internet use are potentially addicting. While the substance or activity may vary, the effect is the same.
Addictive substances or activities mimic your brain’s natural reward system. When you do those activities, your brain gets a reward in the form of dopamine. Runners and other athletes report experiencing a feeling of euphoria –a high– when they exercise. Other substances or activities overwhelm your brain’s reward system. Pornography, for instance, has been called the crack cocaine of sex addiction. In both cases, high is the result of the brain releasing dopamine. Regardless of the substance or activity, if it’s allowed to grow unchecked, your substance abuse or compulsive activities can become an addiction.
Another word for addiction is pain. Loss of freedom to choose if, when, and how much to use or do. Loss of relationships. Using the substance or doing activity becomes more important than the people around you. The addiction may become more important than anything else and everything else.
Addiction is another word for pain. How can you get help?
The good news is that many people who struggle with an addiction recover without professional help or treatment. One man, Mike, told me that one day he woke up and heard God say, “That’s enough alcohol. You’re full.” Mike was happy to say that day his drinking stopped. Alcohol was no longer a problem for him.
What about others who aren’t able to stop their addiction on their own?
Current research shows that addictions are a disease. The drinking or activity might have started voluntarily, but at some point, religious faith, moral principles or willpower is not enough to stop the behavior.
The good news is that many people who struggle with the pain and shame of addiction recover with professional help.
If you’re experiencing the pain of addiction, whether to alcohol or other substances, pornography, sex or other activities, I’m here to help.