Here’s How To Spot Secret Addictions And Tips To Break The Cycle

Imagine a typical “addict.” What comes to mind? Perhaps someone staggering down the street clutching a wine bottle, or maybe someone staying up late, glued to their Instagram feed? More often, it’s the first image that strikes.

Yet, this portrayal of addiction, focusing on the most extreme cases, misses a broader, more inclusive picture. Addiction isn’t just about illicit substances or gambling; it spans a vast spectrum of behaviours and it’s likely we all harbour some form of addiction.

Meet The Expert: Talitha Fosh, author of  is a qualified psychotherapist specialising in addiction. With personal experience in recovery from alcohol and drug use, and a background in treating various addiction issues, she offers insights into overcoming dependency.

Addiction goes beyond the substances or activities we traditionally associate with dependency. It involves our reliance on anything external to soothe, escape, or alter our internal state. Whether it’s compulsive online shopping, endlessly scrolling through social media, or skipping meals due to weight concerns, these behaviours can signify deeper issues if they persist and cause harm. In essence, addiction surfaces when we persist with harmful behaviours, breaking promises to ourselves and others in pursuit of a temporary respite from our realities.

Have you ever found yourself up late, scrolling through Instagram to distract from stress? Felt regret after impulsive shopping during a “retail therapy” session? Lied to friends about your eating habits due to concerns about your appearance? These could be signs of addictive behaviours.

But don’t worry—you’re not alone. We are all susceptible to addiction. Our brains, still adapting to the rapid developments of modern life, are inherently prone to it. The neural pathways that evolved to reward survival behaviours are now being hijacked by modern stimuli—from binge-watching TV shows to reacting to social media notifications. This hijacking leads to a cycle where the pursuit of instant gratification becomes increasingly compelling.

Key Signs Of Addiction

Identifying addiction can be subtle and involves recognising several key signs:

  1. Inability to Stop: Struggling to take breaks or quit, despite wanting to.
  2. Feeling Shame: Feeling deeply flawed, fuelling continued addictive behaviours.
  3. Keeping Secrets: Hiding behaviours or feelings due to guilt or embarrassment.
  4. Defensiveness: Reacting negatively to others’ concerns, a sign of denial.
  5. Broken Promises: Failing repeatedly to adhere to self-set limits, like promising to stay off social media but reinstalling an app soon after deleting it.

Strategies To Break The Cycle

Recognising these patterns is a courageous first step toward change. Fortunately, our adaptable brains can learn and unlearn habits. Here are strategies to break the cycle of addiction:

  • Abstinence: Temporarily abstaining can help reset your brain’s balance. Always consult with a doctor for safe practices.
  • Reflection: Understand the real needs behind your actions to find healthier alternatives.
  • Seek Support: Turn to friends, family, or support groups.
  • Therapy: Professional help can provide deeper insights and strategies.
  • Know Your Triggers: Recognise what prompts your behaviours to better avoid them.
  • Embrace Feelings: Allowing yourself to experience a range of emotions can uncover underlying needs and growth opportunities.

Changing deep-seated habits is a gradual process, not an overnight fix. Each step forward is part of a larger journey towards regaining control of your life, a journey that can be challenging but ultimately rewarding.

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