By Dr. Donna Wieghill
(Part 1 can be found here) Addictions of any kind, substance or non-substance, are detrimental to a person’s well being, and in fact society in general. An addiction does not just affect the individual involved. Surprisingly, though, the addict is so absorbed in self, and obtaining their next fix, that they rarely see or appreciate the truly devastating affect their behavior has on others. An addict expends his or her energy, resources, and effort toward their next high. Unfortunately, an addiction takes place at the expense of everyone involved.
Work, family, spirituality, and social activity are all affected to some extent. Take work, for example. Imagine a person so absorbed in online games, played with others around the world, that hours go by without hardly blinking. What started as a little down time ends up consuming more than expected. Soon the gamer has stayed awake far into their healthy sleep cycle. At this point, a person may settle for anything from a couple hours of sleep to no sleep at all. Can you imagine the ill effects on a person, with little to no sleep, attempting to function in the work force? Depending on the type of employment, the outcome could be dangerous if not lethal.
I know a married man who would pull out his iPhone in bed just to pass the time. He surfed the internet until he got sleepy enough to fall into peaceful slumber. Over a short period he began delving into appealing internet sites that stimulated his intellect to the point that he wanted to stay awake to learn more. His sleep patterns physiologically changed. He became accustomed to staying awake later and later. Soon he had a hard time falling asleep at a decent hour, and when he tried he simply tossed and turned. Laying in bed wide awake seemed to be a waste of time, so he would once again turn on his phone and peruse the web. A vicious feedback loop, or unhealthy cycle erupted. This man turned an innocent resolution into a bad habit which then became an addiction.
The example above sounds fairly harmless but it didn’t stop there. Pornographic sites often popped up as he surfed the web. With continued exposure to home pages, curiosity got the best of him. He’d researched so many other aspects of life. In this instance, he didn’t see the harm in finding out what all the hype was about. Dabbling in porn quickly snowballed out of control and became his main internet standby.
Sadly, this scenario is all too common. People don’t intend to become addicted, any more than a person intends to be divorced after they marry. Story after story, like the one portrayed, starts out seemingly benign. An addiction usually surfaces slowly, unassuming, but before you know it has become a cataclysmic affair. Speaking of affairs….if I had a nickel for every time someone began a full-blown affair simply after entering a chat room to visit with others…. Yes, marital affairs are also categorized as non-substance addictions. Do you know anyone who, whether consciously or inadvertently, suffers from an addiction? At the beginning of this blog I stated that an addiction affects more than just the person involved. Off the top of your head, I bet you can list at least a dozen people in the married man’s life who are gravely affected by his behavior. More to follow……………
Dr. Weighill is the Author of To Say Goodbye and All Roads Lead Home: Shipwrecked off the 7th Continent