A recent article in the Huffington Post by Doctor Lloyd I. Sederer discusses the reality that addiction is an ‘equal opportunity threat to life’. This article comes out at a time when the daughter of the editor of the Huffington Post, Christina Huffington, has been in the news for her cocaine addiction. The idea that only certain types of people are likely to develop this condition was busted long ago, but this myth continues to be believed by many people in society.
Those individuals who develop alcohol or drug problems can be:
- rich or poor
- black, Asian, or white
- religious or non-religious
- successful or struggling in life
- male or female
- well educated
- privileged or underprivileged
- upper class, middle class, or working class
- criminal or law abiding
- young or old
- working, unemployed, or retired.
Even those people who show no signs of addiction now could easily fall into this type of trap later on. A good example of this is the high number of sober entrepreneurs who fall into addiction in retirement.
The reason why addiction cuts across all types of social boundaries is that there are so many potential causes for it. There are people who will be more at risk of developing this condition, but this does not mean that those who do not share these risk factors are safe. Here are just some of the reasons why people might develop this problem:
- boredom with life
- physical, emotional, or mental abuse
- trying drugs or alcohol at a young age
- peer pressure
- stress or post traumatic stress disorder
- being part of a drinking or drug-using culture
- undiagnosed mental illness such as depression or high anxiety.
The people who will be at higher risk of developing this type of problem will include:
- those genetically predisposed to addiction
- those with personality traits (e.g. impulsiveness, low stress threshold, and attraction to risk taking) that can make them more prone to this type of behaviour – this is sometimes referred to as the addictive personality
- those having grown up in a home where addictive behaviour is considered normal will be more at risk
- anyone who has had a problem with addictive behaviour in the past.
To avoid falling into addiction, it is important to always be on the lookout for this type of behaviour. The most obvious types of addiction are alcohol and drugs, but it can also involve maladaptive behaviours such as workaholism, exercise addiction, shopping addiction, or internet addiction. Some of the warning signs that you might be developing this type of problem include:
- experiencing feelings of guilt about engaging too much in the behaviour
- spending increasing amounts of time engaged in this behaviour
- in the case of alcohol – inability to stick to the recommended levels for safe consumption
- using alcohol or drugs to help you relax – there are much safer ways to do this
- engaging in binge drinking
- using illegal drugs
- drinking alcohol every day
- using prescription medication for purposes other than what it was intended for.
If people feel that they are developing a problem, it is important to stop or reduce the amount of time engaged in the behaviour. If this is a struggle, it may mean that this person is already addicted.