Am I addicted? You may want to think about your uncle, aunt, friends, or coworkers. You know they have a problem and you wonder, “Are they addicted?” That’s a wonderful question to ask, but today let’s find out if you’re addicted — if you have something going on that you just can’t seem to break free from.
I want to share this with you: There is no shame if you’re struggling with something. This article is not about shaming. I am a recovering alcoholic, drug addict, sex addict, porn addict, caffeine addict, and sugar addict. I understand addictions from both a personal level and a professional level. For thirty years I’ve helped men and women recover from all kinds of addictions, and every week seen I’ve watched them become free. Watched them grow emotionally, morally, and spiritually. Watched moms and dads take their right place in the home again and regain the ability to work and start businesses and grow and mature into the person they really were created to be.
If you have an addiction, it’s just a roadblock. It might even be there for several legitimate reasons. Maybe you were abandoned. I was. Maybe you were abused. I was too. I had legitimate reasons to be addicted as a teenager. Maybe you had something happen in your life that caused pain, and maybe you weren’t old enough to afford counseling or know that there are other ways of dealing with it, so you found something that was within reach. For some of you it was sex. For some of you it was alcohol. For some of you it was drugs. For some of you it was overworking and overcompensating — being perfect.
It was a strategy for making it through that time in your life — but addictions will only help you survive. They will not help you live, and as you grow and mature, the requirements for living life become greater than just surviving. I moved beyond just surviving and I began to live — and living is amazing. I love being a great husband and a great dad. I love running a great company and helping people all around the globe.
Think about this: even if you’re brilliant, you’ll never be as successful as you could be. Why? Because you will constantly use time and energy to support your addiction instead of investing all of it in your own living and growing and expanding and maturing and being an encouragement to other people.
Let me ask you some questions and let’s find out if you’re addicted. Pick the behavior you think you’re struggling with — it might be shopping, or overeating, or overspending, or drugs, or porn. These principles apply no matter what the addiction is, whether substance or activity, so let’s walk through this together.
The first question: Have you tried to stop? Like most addicts, we’ve tried to stop again and again. Many people I work with have said, “Yeah, I’ve stopped. I’ve stopped probably a thousand times, but I keep going back.”
Number two: I call it “read my lips.” This is where you have made some kind of promise to stop, but you really weren’t able to keep your promise. You might have said to your spouse, or your children, or your parents, or yourself, “Yeah I’ll stop doing that. I promise I won’t ever do that again.” Have you ever made a promise like this?
Number three: Have you faced consequences? Financial, emotional, social…sometimes it’s a DUI, sometimes it’s getting caught by your partner or children. Maybe you lost a job or an opportunity. You have dealt with a consequence of some type because of this behavior.
Number four: Have you kept using even after that consequence? Consider whether you kept doing this behavior even though it cost you a relationship, time, money, or social status.
Number five: Do you have to do more and more to get the same result? If it’s pornography, maybe you started off with Playboy, but now you need to get into something really obscene to get your fix, or maybe you need to act it out with real people. If you started with Budweiser, now you’re into very strong whisky.
Number six: Is it taking more of your time? Look at how much time you have to dedicate to your addiction. You fantasize about it. You plan for it. Look at how much time you obsess over it, pursue it, engage in it, and then recover from it. Look at the amount of time you’ve been spending recently versus the amount of time you spent when you first started. Has that time increased?
Number seven: Do you get the blues when you can’t access it? In my field, we call it withdrawals. You get down or you get frustrated if you can’t get your hands on it. For some of you it’s your cellphone. You’ve seen people sitting at the table with their kids and they all have their phones out, not talking to each other. Internet addiction is a real thing. Social media addiction is a real thing. I’ve seen divorces happen because the wife was on Facebook for six or seven hours a day with people she didn’t know and she wouldn’t connect with her husband.
Number eight: Are you decreasing other activities? Because your addiction is taking more and more time, you don’t go work out as often. You don’t spend as much time with friends. You’re not able to take part in spiritual, social, or political activities you might normally engage in. You’ve pulled away so that you can invest more in your addiction.
Look through these questions and see how many you would honestly answer, “Yes, that’s me.” If you answered yes to more than three, it’s likely that you have an addiction issue. If you do, it’s not the end of the world. It’s just how you’re medicating. This is how you’re surviving life. But now it’s time to live life. It’s time to be free. It’s time to take charge of your life so that you’re not running around addicted. You have to believe in yourself. I know what it’s like to be addicted. I know what it’s like to just survive life and not live it — and trust me, living life is so much better than being addicted. You can have a fantastic, fulfilling life and relationships. If you have an addiction, start the journey today to become free!
Doug Weiss, Ph.D., is a nationally known author, speaker and licensed psychologist. He is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the author of several books including, Recovery for Everyone You may contact Dr. Weiss via his website, drdougweiss.com, by phone at 719-278-3708 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org