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Addictions Are Everywhere – Here’s How to Avoid Falling into One

Young people are falling into addiction more than ever. Here are some tips to tame addictive personality traits.

A woman sitting alone and depressed
Photo: marjan4782 / Adobe Stock

Unlike past generations, Millennials and Generation Z seem unusually vulnerable to addictive behaviors. This is true despite the growing recognition that as a group, they’re far more culturally aware and sensitive to societal issues. It’s a situation that’s as perplexing as it is counterintuitive.

The situation is so dire that more and more damaging behaviors are being classified as addictions beyond the lure of drugs, alcohol, and smoking. Today, people are dealing with smartphone addiction, porn addiction, and social media addiction, to name a few. It’s reached the point that every kind of negative behavior one can imagine is becoming the new addiction du jour.

That’s not to say that these problems aren’t real – they are – it’s just that society is now attaching the term ‘addiction’ to more kinds of problems. In truth, though, what most people have to deal with regarding these new problems is finding a way to tame their own addictive personality traits. Doing so is like a kind of inoculation against all kinds of issues, and here are some ways to do it.

Stay Occupied and Productive

Although it may not seem like groundbreaking advice, one of the best ways to guard against falling into addiction is to fill your time with positive behavior. Consider taking up jogging, get a gym membership or volunteer for a local community organization. Do whatever it takes to stay busy and productive. Most people that do this soon find that they’re leading fulfilling and enjoyable lives – and have no more room for their addictive tendencies.

Learn About Addiction

As the saying goes, “knowledge is power”. When it comes to the topic of addiction, this is a truism. That’s because although addiction is often treated as a disease (and it can be), it differs from conventional ailments in one critical way: you have the power to overcome it with no external help. The only way to do this, however, is to learn all you can about the addictive behaviors you’re prone to. Once you understand your own triggers and how certain addictions hijack your brain, you’ll know how to seize back control of your own behavior and break the cycle once and for all.

Build a Support System

Although it’s true that every individual has the power to overcome their own addiction, that doesn’t mean that anyone should go it alone. There’s tremendous value in seeking support from others, particularly from those who face the same kinds of difficulties. That’s one of the reasons that groups like Alcoholics Anonymous have been so successful for so long. Having people to talk to and identify with helps you to put your issues in the proper perspective. It also provides valuable examples of others who have been where you are and emerged from the other side in much better shape. It’s also liberating to talk about your issues, no matter how embarrassing they seem, with others. With everything out in the open, all that’s left to do is work on getting better.

Commit to a Long-Term Process

If you’re the kind of person that’s prone to addictive behavior, the most important part of controlling it is understanding that it isn’t going to ever go away completely. After all, it’s a feature of your personality, so it’s as much a part of you as anything else. It’s something that you’ll have to pay attention to and work to contain throughout your life. What starts as a propensity for drugs and alcohol can resurface as a sex addiction or risk-taking behaviors later on. The sooner that you accept that this is the case the better your odds of avoiding falling into any future addictions.

It’s also important to recognize that you don’t have to avoid all forms of addiction temptation to be successful. Instead, you must only recognize your limits. In other words, get to know yourself as well as you can. It’s also true that not all outlets for your addictive tendencies are bad. For example, if you really get into exercise after following the first tip above, that too is an addiction. It’s just not one that will ruin your life unless you pursue it to the exclusion of all other activities. The bottom line is that if you know your limits, you don’t have to fear falling victim to negative addictive behaviors.

Don’t Give Up

The last tip I can offer is a simple one. Don’t give up. Ever. Overcoming your addictive behaviors is not only possible, but it’s also the most likely outcome if you commit to doing it. All it takes is a desire to be better, and to learn how to control the kinds of behaviors that could lead you astray. Don’t stress about failing. You can always try again. The most important thing is to learn how to be honest with yourself. Then you can admit when you’re not doing the best you can and work on doing better. If you can find a way to do that, there’s no addiction that will beat you. To any and all that are reading this because they have demons to fight, stick with it – you’ll win out in the end.

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