There’s nothing wrong with having fun in your life. In fact, a work and play balance is essential to a person’s healthy wellbeing.
The keyword there, though, is balance.
Once your “fun” becomes more than an occasional thing, the rest of your life gradually ends up unbalanced. At some point, your vices take over.
So how do you know when your indulgence has turned into an addiction? Check out these surefire warning signs that scream danger, danger, danger, and get help before it’s too late.
1. You Have a Regular Habit
Did you know that any habit, taken to an extreme, can become a dangerous addiction? Even something as generous as helping others can infringe on your family and finances in a negative way.
What are your regular habits that you can’t imagine living without? How could they turn toxic if you’re not careful?
Substance abuse is the most common vice that turns into an addiction. This category includes everything from tobacco and nicotine to prescription or illicit drugs. Alcohol abuse is another widespread substance vice.
However, vices are also behavioral. Exercising too much, becoming a “workaholic,” gambling, sex or pornography, and using the Internet all the time are some examples of obsessive habits.
When your regular habit gets in the way of your real-life relationships, it starts to affect your physical and mental health. Recognizing that you have a potential addictive vice is the first warning sign.
2. You’ve Moved Beyond “Experimenting”
The “everyone does it” mentality has led millions of people to fall for peer pressure experimentation. Just because you’ve done something once doesn’t mean you’ll fall off the cliff and become an addict.
But what happens after that initial experimental stage should red flag you. If you’re drawn back to that behavior or substance because of the feeling it gave you, tread with caution.
Be extra careful if you know any of these factors is true:
- You have a family history of addictive behaviors (gambling, alcoholism, drug use, etc.)
- You find yourself going out of your way to track down the activity or substance
- You engage in the vice without feeling guilty for spending money, missing work, or potentially disappointing your loved ones
Our consciences are the reason why we don’t indulge in our vices as often as we’d like. When that little voice of common sense starts to disappear, it’s still there. You’ve learned how to shut it off in order to enjoy the addiction.
3. Your Personality Begins to Change
When recovering addicts talk about their experiences, one of the common threads is always the realization that they didn’t recognize themselves.
At some point, your vice will cause you to start doing things you’d never imagine yourself doing. You might steal money from loved ones to further your habit. You’ll call in sick to work after you’ve had a stellar attendance record and strong work ethic before. You might miss your children’s school performances or pull away from family activities.
These behaviors will turn into irritability, then anger as you lash out at those around you. Your emotions will become irrational as your addiction takes over. This personality change starts to push those who love you away, often destroying relationships.
4. Your Health Deteriorates
Personality changes can be reversed, and relationships may be able to be mended. But physical problems caused by your vices are forever.
Warning signs that your health is declining include early symptoms that appear minor. Glazed and bloodshot eyes, chronic colds and other illnesses, and weight changes are some examples. Your teeth, skin, and hair will begin to dull or turn yellow and fall out.
Over time, you’ll start to have trouble remembering basic things. Your speech will slur, or you’ll ramble a lot.
Long-term physical damage is occurring in your brain as these “small” signs turn visible. This damage will eventually become so ingrained that it will be permanent, continuing to impact your body long after you’ve quit your vice.
The thing about “fun” is that some people are able to handle it better than others. People who have obsessive personalities or genetic traits should try to avoid vices that easily turn into addictions.
If you’re not sure whether your vice is now an addiction, chances are, it is. These warning signs can clue you in, but it’s up to you to get help before the changes are permanent.