Excerpt from the e-book ‘Stomp Out Teen Struggles-Addictive Behavior’.
The first commonality of addictions would be the reason the addiction starts in the first place. As I said in the last chapter, it usually starts out innocently enough. Maybe you are curious, or maybe your friends pressure you into trying something new. No one ever starts drinking or doing drugs with the thought of becoming an addict.
You believe you are strong enough to handle it. You may even think you can try it once and be done with it. Some people can; others, however, cannot. Or maybe you don’t see what you are doing as a possible addictive behavior that could harm you.
There are millions of people every day taking part in something that could ruin their lives or potentially kill them. It just doesn’t make sense on the outside looking in. Why would someone do something that could cause themselves that much harm?
It may be because of how that person feels or what they are going through. Someone who is happy and feels confident is less likely to become addicted. However, if someone is displeased for some reason, sad or depressed, they are more susceptible to harmful behavior. They may want an outlet that will make them feel better, at least for a little while. What they might not understand at the time is something that can make them happier or more confident for a few hours now might harm them later and change their life forever.
Or maybe someone wants to be adventurous or daring. At first, there is a positive self-image. They may feel like a “renegade” or a “rebel”. That can be an exhilarating feeling. Or, depending on what they are doing, maybe it starts as just a pleasant diversion. They may even feel relaxed and in control. This can be a comfortable feeling. However, what if it becomes a habit and that habit turns into addiction?
That’s when you’ll experience a craving, an overwhelming need. You may even feel a sense of fear because you know you are hooked and you don’t know what to do about it. Do you really end up feeling better in the long term? The positive self-image and comfortable feeling can turn into a negative self-image and leave you feeling horrible.
Here are some commons reasons why someone may become an addict.
• Get high
• Lose weight
• Suppress anxiety
• Stay awake
• Pressure from peers
• Wanting to fit in
• Forget problems
Maybe they are:
• Feeling low self-esteem
As you can see, people become addicted for several different reasons. The one thing these reasons have in common is the person feels like they themselves, their situation and/or their life could be made easier or more exciting, even if it’s just for an hour or two, so they turn to some kind of addictive habit to make themselves feel better. They may feel better in the short-term, however, what about the long-term effects? What if their addictive habit does lead to some kind of self-destructive behavior? It’s not like they can hop into a time machine, go back and make everything all better.
And the behavior doesn’t even have to be self-destructive. If you are shy, you might overcome your shyness. However, what if you blurt out something you didn’t want people to know because you’re drunk and not really in control of what you are saying? Now everyone may know your deepest secret, or maybe you just threw your best friend under the bus because you were plowed, not in control of yourself, and you told their deepest, darkest secret to anyone who would listen.
You may have more self-confidence when you play violent video games, but what happens when you are in school? Do you still feel confident or do you shrink inside your shell again? Or, worse yet, if you are bullied, do you fantasize about lashing out at the bullies as you do to the enemies in your game?
If you start an addiction because of depression, the addiction can make the depression worse, and that probably isn’t going to help your situation at all. Or maybe you are missing something in your life, and you may not even know what it is, but you turn to some kind of addictive behavior to fill that void. Maybe its comfort or excitement you are seeking. You may find what you seek at some level, for a small amount of time, while you indulge in your addiction of choice; however, you will probably find it doesn’t last. Curing your depression or finding what you are missing is what will help you.
Peer pressure and the need to fit in can also provide a strong pull toward addictive behavior. Your buddies might be happy when you join them to drink, smoke or take drugs and you may feel more like part of the group when you do. However, later, when you are spending your money on these vices and feeling the health effects, will you feel like it was a good trade-off, especially after you graduate and maybe don’t hang out with those friends anymore?
Let’s take a minute to think about this before a possible addiction can get ahold of you and take you down.
If you feel the need to become addicted to something, ask yourself:
• Why am I doing this?
• Am I doing this to make someone else happy?
• Am I looking for something that might be missing from my
• If so, what can it be and how else can I obtain it?
• Do the pros really outweigh the cons?
• What can the possible repercussions be?