Knowing whether or not you are addicted to a particular behavior is not always easy to identify. Part of the problem with this lies in the vagueness of how addiction can be defined. This is one of the reasons why so many clients come into treatment being defensive. There can be a distinction between abusive and addictive behavior. When people are addicted to a behavior, they do abuse it, but it is possible to abuse without being addicted. Thus, many clients are worried about being labeled as an addict.
Rather than labeling, it may help you to decide what you want to change in your life. Everyone has things that they would change at any given time. Ask yourself questions to see what you want out of your life. What if we put the label aside, and had you ask yourself what part of your life would you change right now? How would it be different? Could it be different if you stopped a behavior or did it less? Would your relationships improve? Would you get more done? Would you feel better throughout the day?
Nobody likes labels. However be careful not to lose the point because of your pride. The point of us living our lives is to figure out who we are without hurting ourselves and others along the way. So are you where you want to be at this point in your life? Don’t worry about labels, but just ask yourself this question, and try to answer it as honestly as you can. Ask others for feedback, and listen to what they have to say. If you are unsure, ask your doctor or seek out a therapist or psychiatrist for their opinion.
If you find that you are not where you want to be at this point in your life, ask yourself if it has anything to do with a particular behavior in your life. Changing this behavior could help you live your life and figure out who you are without hurting yourself. Then the actual problem becomes less about defending yourself from a label, and more about you improving on your life in a way that you want to.
To make this change, it is important to seek out the help of a professional to help you determine whether or not you can moderate your behavior or not. Dealing with a problem behavior is not always all-or-nothing. For example, I have worked with several individuals who abuse alcohol, but with the right plan, they can use in moderation. Now some of these individuals do decide to remain abstinent, but others learn to moderate their use without having future problems.
If you discover that you cannot control your use, then therapy can help you learn ways to cope with this and develop a plan to stop these problems from keeping you from living the kind of life that you want to live. Therefore, this is not about labels as much as it is about learning to recognize and accept what you can deal with at this point in your life. All of us have different things that we have to deal with, whether it be lacking enough exercise, watching our diet, avoiding alcohol or caffeine. Worry less about labeling, and more about what you could change to reach certain goals in your life. If you don’t have many goals, get feedback to create more for yourself.
The label of “addicted or not addicted” keeps many people from seeking out treatment. Rather than getting stuck on this label, it could more beneficial to look at what you could change in your life, and how you can get this. Then determine if you need to make a change, and get a professional opinion to assist you in doing this.