Did you catch the news this week? The world health organisation, ‘WHO’, has now classified internet game addiction as a recognised disease. Is it right? What is an addiction?
We use the word ‘addiction’ to indicate an illness which is based on the behaviour of a person who is compulsively or habitually ‘addicted’ to a substance or a set of behaviours. Most behaviours that are described as addictions are seen as negative. We think of drugs or alcohol. We might even consider the workaholic. Which ever way we view it addiction is seen as a negative.
Perhaps we are all addicts
I would like to suggest another way of looking at it, we are all addicted, we are all addicts, it is just that we are often unaware of what we are addicted to. So my question is…
What is your addiction?
An addiction is simply a chemical state, that is in both our brain and our body. We become addicted when we have learned to accept this chemistry as our ‘normal’ state of being. The chemistry comes from the habit that we practice. We know that when someone exercises regularly their brain responds by releasing powerful endorphins. We also know that once this chemistry has been established as their normal they can become addicted to this exercise. Once this habit has been established we find that if they are unable to exercise, perhaps because of an injury, they go into withdrawal just like any drug addict. All the symptoms of drug withdrawal are played out through their brain and body until they either can restore the exercise and the chemistry or undergo the ‘cold turkey’ of drug withdrawal.
Any behaviour from meditation to sex, from knitting to hill walking, from laughing to crying, will have a chemical effect on our mind body system. Once these are established in our mind, brain they become our habit and our chemical normal. The issues of anxiety, anger, depression, love and happiness may also be our addictions.
So what is your addiction?
Your chemical normal is the one that makes you feel just right. It comes from you habits that you have established throughout your life. If something happens to alter your ‘normal’ you will adopt behaviours that will return your chemistry to recreate your normal. My normal involves meditation, cooking, often running, definitely playing music, mainly guitar, certainly working with other people and always my lovely Rie and holidays away. When I am deprived of my addictions I feel withdrawal and need to act to bring my chemistry back to my normal.
Some addictions are good, as in they do not harm us or others. Bad addictions do harm us or other people. We have a choice. Once we mindfully examine our behaviours we can decide which addictions we will feed and which ones we will starve and allow to wither.
We may decide that allowing our children to develop the habit of internet gaming is a good or a bad addiction. Current evidence would suggest this is a bad addiction.
Be happy and check your addictions.