Happy Healthy YOU

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Kelly Spencer - Happy Healthy YOU

(A wellness column by Kelly Spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast!)

“I will just have one puff” is a statement that many recovered smokers have deluded themselves to believe. The one drag leads to one cigarette and soon back to smoking full time again, even after months or years after quitting.

Over the last few weeks, this column has examined alcohol, drug and food addictions. And while addiction is certainly not limited to these few there is a commonality that binds: powerlessness over their addiction.

Dr. Steven Melemis, author of the book, I Want to Change My Life says addiction is 50 per cent predisposition or genetics and 50 per cent the individual’s ability to cope with life. Melemis also claims a study showing children of parents with addiction issues were eight times more likely to develop their own addiction.

As discussed in previous articles, addiction is a disease. If you consider heart disease or diabetes for example: individuals have a predisposing genetic component but they also have choices. There are factors not in their control as well as ways to effectively treat and minimize the effects of their disease.

Dr. Melemis’s book also discusses that one consequence of a brain that's wired for addiction is cross addiction.

If the underlying disease is not remedied, or as Carl Jung describes as having a total psychic shift based on spiritual principles, then the risk of one addiction being replaced with another external temporary feel-good behavior, is very common.

Some of the other addictions include...

Work Addiction

Workaholics are often viewed as driven and hard working. But work addiction is a real mental health condition that often stems from perfectionism, obsessive-compulsion thoughts and behavior, paranoia related to work, and working to cope with guilt, depression, avoidance of relationships and other parts of life. Like any other addiction, work addiction is the inability to stop the behavior.

Shopping Addiction

This is a compulsive disorder and mental health disorder which can cause severe consequences for the addict as often the money is spent regardless of the need or financial means. Some medical experts believe that a compulsive shopper gets the same rush or “high” from making purchases as a drug addict gets from using. The “things” purchased are often a mask for the avoidance to deal with other issues in life.

The Love Addict

As romantic as it may sound to be a Love Addict, the consequences are far from charming and amorous. The love addict often becomes attached quickly, idolizing without really knowing or caring. They have difficulty feeling “complete” without a relationship and tend to have difficulty letting go after the relationship is over.

Often there is a pattern of repeatedly getting involved with people who are emotionally unavailable and spend much time in the fantasy of what could be, rather than what is. The causes of love addiction may be traced back to childhood. A person who lacks self-esteem or who never felt they were "special" enough just the way they are may grow up looking to other people to give them constant reassurance that they are okay.

Sex/Porn Addiction

Sex and porn addictions, while different, both use the addiction as way to avoid dealing with emotions, stress, life as it is or in an attempt to get a "high" from seeing images or engaging in sexual acts that feed into their sexual fantasies that ultimately have a negative impact on their lives.

Exercise Addiction

Yes, exercise is very healthy for us. But an exercise addict often is unable to relax and feel contentment, can experience physical injury and often in a state of exaggerated anxiety and guilt. Strains on relationships are common due to the excessiveness of their regime. Exercise also helps to relieve stress and anxiety, and it's possible that the exercise addict turns to physical activity to cope with the strains of everyday life. If a person is using exercise as a way to avoid dealing with difficult issues or situations, then it may be a sign of addiction.

Compulsive Gambling

Like all addictions, the high comes from the intensity of playing the odds, reaching for the big win. There is a compulsivity that is out of control and often time consuming (whether gambling online or at a casino). And since the odds are for the “house,” the gambling addict gets trapped in a loop of trying to regain or keep winning, taking time and money from their lives. Instead of being an enjoyable pastime, it is something that they feel compelled to do and typically risk everything with very negative impact on the individual’s life.

Video Game Addiction

A newer phenomenon is gripping a hold of many people, mostly young people. This addiction is not yet currently included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) due to a lack of research and evidence indicating that it is a disorder. If it is officially recognized as a psychological disorder, it will likely be placed in the same category as gambling addiction - a disorder involving a lack of impulse control. Many with this disorder are missing work, school and losing sleep as they live in the fantasy world of video games rather than living their real lives.

Smoking or Nicotine

This is said to be one of the hardest addictions to overcome. The highly addictive nicotine that comes with each drag, gives the smoker a 10 second rush: heart rate increases and blood pressure elevates, keeping them chasing the rush over and over. The adverse effects are plenty from less serious effects of bad breath, odor, stained teeth to more fatal effects such as heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer. Some statistics show that 50 per cent of smokers will die from this addiction.

Most addictions affect the dopamine center of the brain. When in engaged in the addict’s habits, it simulates a temporary feel good burst. The addict then chases the feel good over and over.

Brenda Iliff, author of A Woman's Guide to Recovery, says all addictions are equal but different. The same hopelessness applies to all addictions. Addiction is Addiction.

In the next few weeks, we will take a look at addiction as a family disease, the effects on children and the powerful grip of codependency.

(If you would like to see an article on a specific topic, please email kelly@indigolounge.ca)

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