The world health organisation, ‘WHO’, has now classified internet game addiction as a recognised disease. Is it right? So 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. Whichever way we view it addiction is normally seen 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 come from the habits that we have practiced from the moment of our birth. 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 other drug addict. All the symptoms of drug withdrawal are played out through their brain and body until either they either can restore the exercise and the chemistry or undergo the ‘cold turkey’ of drug withdrawal or in the extreme take prescribed medication/drugs that allow their system to feel balanced.
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 connections are established in our mind brian 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 the 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 once 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.
One last thing to consider. It is easy to look down on other people that have different addictions to ourselves. If you are not addicted to football the sight of people shouting and screaming at a match or at the TV screen may seem very odd as does their euphoria at a win or their depression at a loss. We might feel the same when observing those that l;I’ve horse racing, have obsessions with the royal family, stamp collecting, cooking or the need to tidy and clean all the time or simply plain obsessive compulsive behaviour (disorder), OCD. These are all addictions. Our habits are addictions. We are all addicts. Though we often see our behaviours as normal and other people’s behaviour as odd and addictive.
Don’t ask your self whether or not you are an addict. Accept that you are, just like the rest of us, an addict. So, what are your addictions? If your addiction serve you and others well that’s fine. If they create problems for you or other people they may need to change. So, check your addictions.
Overall, accept who you are, accept other people without being judgemental and be happy.