It’s the kind of thing that you know is painfully common, but you still kind of assume will never affect you. It’s always at arm’s length. It doesn’t really affect anyone you know. At least, you don’t want to say it does.
You don’t like the idea of it ever getting that close to you.
It’s actually quite terrifying. The idea that you might end up entirely dependent on a habit or a hobby or a substance. That your whole life would feel empty without it, but would still feel unsatisfying with it.
The thought alone is chilling.
What makes it worse is knowing how common it is. How difficult it is to notice addiction creeping into your life. How easy it is to succumb to it, without realising quite what’s going on until it’s too late. Knowing that the people around you are likely to see it before you. Knowing that you’ll probably ignore them when they tell you, because that’s what addiction does to you. That’s the person it turns you into.
And it’s right to be afraid of addiction. It’s horrible. It destroys lives.
But, as with anything that scares you, the worst thing you can do is to pretend like it’s not going to happen. There is such a thing as addiction and it can get anyone.
The best way to be sure you won’t suffer for it – that you won’t make those who care about you suffer for it – is to be aware of the symptoms and to stop it before it happens. Don’t wait for someone who loves you to tell you that they have concerns.
Look after yourself and save them that pain.
Despite its sneaky reputation, there are warning signs of encroaching addiction. Being mindful of your own behaviour can alert you to them long before they affect you too badly.
KNOW WHAT COULD GET ADDICTIVE
If you know what sort of behaviour commonly evolves into an addiction, you can keep an eye on it when you do it yourself. Even if doesn’t seem dangerous now. Even if you don’t truly think it ever will. You don’t have to stop having a drink occasionally, or biting your nails, or whatever you feel might get on top of you. But be aware that it has proved dangerous for others and be mindful of it.
RESIST WHEN YOU FEEL NEED
Wanting something is fine. A cold cider on a summer day is a wonderful experience. A coffee in the morning helps you feel ready to face a day. But needing something to feel comfortable functioning is bad. If you feel like you absolutely cannot bear going another moment with doing it, don’t do it. Resist the urge and go and do something else until you’ve forgotten you wanted it in the first place. If you can’t forget, you already have a problem.
NEVER FORGET YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES
As long as none of bad habits get in the way of your ability to function in the real world, you should be fine. As long as you can hold down a steady job, take good care of your dependents, make rent on time and don’t prioritise your potential addiction over any of the important things, you probably don’t need to worry.
As soon as that changes, you have a problem.