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Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Are you hooked?
Don't do drugs! Stay in school!  Your physical instructor likely screamed this stuff at you back in college. I know, I've got it, you thought. Drugs are bad and I'm not going to become a drug addict, now just let me go play tetherball!


Chances are, you were probably right, and your instructor did a stand-up job. But drugs aren't the only things that can fuel a life-controlling habit. Today, millions are struggling with some variation of addictive behaviour-anything from social media to shopping to food. These are incredibly powerful drives, robbing individuals of their ability to make rational choices and avoid risk.

Of course, there is an important distinction between addictive behaviour and true addiction. Addiction generates a change in the brain, it's a memory that can be triggered after years of sobriety and can destroy a person's life. Addictive behaviours, on the other hand, like going to the mall, are not in the same category as alcoholism. That said, these lesser behaviours still impact lives significantly. We surveyed behaviour experts to gather some of the surprising ways certain habits may have a lock on your psyche.


There's considerable debate right now about whether or not sex addiction exists. The fact that you enjoy having lots of sex doesn't mean you're an addict, says Dr Mahesh Nawal, an Indore-based sexologist. It's the circumstances surrounding your sexual pursuits that define whether or not your enthusiasm is problematic. When you're losing control and enduring powerful, negative consequences as a result of sexual behaviour, you need to get help, he adds.

Allocating a significant amount of time towards sex-related activities, such as looking for partners and watching porn.

Continued pursuit of risky sexual activity despite the potential negative impact it may have on your health and/or relationships.

Feeling restless and irritable when you're unable to engage in sexual behaviour.

Strategy: The key to beating sex addiction is regaining control over your sexual desires. Dr Nawal says the Internet is a huge enabler, isolating individuals and allowing users to access explicit content or quickly connect with other addicts for hook ups. The key is to not hide in your "masturbation fortress", and to leave the Internet behind. If you're unable to rein in your habits, see a therapist who specialises in addictive behaviour.

Surfing the internet
Sure, "Internet addiction disorder" isn't a term officially recognised by the psychiatric community, but that doesn't mean it isn't a real thing. According to psychologist Patricia Wallace, PhD, author, The Psychology of the Internet, an alarming number of people unknowingly show what appear to be signs of addiction to the digital world. Most of the time people aren't addicted directly to the Internet, but rather the activities it allows them to participate in, says Wallace.

Neglecting those around you to get online.

"Heightened euphoria" when engaged in Internet-related activities.
Decrease in daily productivity due to Internet distraction

Feeling more comfortable interacting online than face-to-face.

Strategy: In a world where technology is everywhere, it's tough to stop altogether. The key is to start small- Xslow, steady withdrawal and cognitive behavioural therapy are the ways to go, says Wallace. Fight that urge to check your email and keep your phone in your pocket. As you do that, give yourself real-world projects that you can focus on, and use a few minutes of Internet "catching up" as your reward, Wallace says.

It can't be a bad thing to want to do your job, can it? Truth is, those who are working more than 50 hours per week are more likely to have reduced physical and mental well-being, according to a Kansas State University doctoral researcher. "Workaholics" are obsessed with their occupation, and it takes away from other important areas in their lives.

Thinking about work outside of the work place.

Doing work instead of eating and/or sleeping.

Difficulty relaxing.

Untrusting of others to complete work on your behalf.

Losing interest in leisurely hobbies.

Strategy: Trust some of your co-workers to complete tasks. Typically, workaholics are control freaks, the researchers surmised, and passing some of the responsibility to someone can help you de-stress.

Scanning social media
A recent Harvard University study reveals that sharing personal information online activates the same part of the brain that releases pleasure when a person is eating a delicious meal or having sex. Being able to connect with old friends or video-chatting with a significant other has become a cornerstone of today's society, but can too much social connection have a negative effect on your external life?

Using social media instead of completing an important task

Using social media to make you feel better about yourself

Frequently staying on social media, longer than anticipated

Neglecting real-life relationships in favour of spending time on social media

Strategy: There is a huge frequency element with social media because it's so readily accessible to users, says Wallace. If you're staying connected on your smartphone, the easiest way to start weaning your way off is to turn off your notification settings, so you're not feeding and rewarding the
constant craving.

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