Awareness is the first step to stop addiction

All the suffering, stress, and addiction comes from not realizing you already are what you are looking for. Jon Kabat-Zinn

There are many people who are addicted to different things. Some are addicted to drugs, while others have problems with gambling. But beyond this, there are plenty of “mundane” addictions that don’t get recognized as such but might be devastating.

People can become addicted to video games, online shopping, social media, and so many other things, online or in real life. But often, they don’t recognize these problems as addiction, even as it begins to ruin their lives. Awareness is the first step to solve the issue, so here are some ideas that can help you cultivate awareness of behaviors that are becoming addictions.

You can’t stop

The first sign is not always quite so clear, but it involves being unable to stop even when you want to. For a long time, people with addiction might kid themselves into thinking that they don’t really want to stop, but there does come a point when reality is undeniable.
Not being able to stop means that you find yourself indulging in the behavior even when it’s harmful or when you would rather not. It becomes compulsive and difficult to manage, so you continue even when it’s not fun or enjoyable but rather a source of anguish.

You hide it from others

Another sign of addiction is that you start hiding your behaviors from others. You don’t let them see or know the money, time, energy, and effort that you are putting into the behavior, the substance, or the situation. Instead, you start lying and downplaying it.
Often, this tendency to hide might come after others express their worry but it is also possible that you start concealing things before those around you notice. You might also isolate yourself to keep others from discovering what’s going on.

You need more, more, more

In substance abuse, there is a concept known as tolerance. It means that your body develops a tolerance for the substance and requires more to produce the same effect, which can eventually escalate to dangerous levels. This is not so obvious with behavioral addictions, but it does happen.
You might need to spend more money or engage in riskier activities to feel the same thrill. The things that seemed extreme or unthinkable now appear normal or boring. There is a constant tendency to escalate your behavior or the intensity of the experience to feel satisfied.

It hurts other aspects of your life

A key element of addiction is that it starts hurting your life in some way. Maybe it risks your health or your emotional well-being. Maybe it’s putting you in debt. Maybe it places you in positions that could compromise your career or reputation.
An addiction is characterized by harm, which might start small and escalate from little things. However, it usually means that you are not successfully fulfilling what you need to do at school, at work, in your relationships, or in your personal life, like taking care of yourself.

It becomes the center of your life

People can indulge and overindulge a little without it becoming an addiction. But when it does, it is often reflected by the fact that the situation or behavior becomes the center of your life. You are willing to sacrifice everything or most things to gamble, play, shop, and so on. You might ignore other obligations, even those with a high personal cost.

When you need to choose, you will always pick the addiction and face more and more negative consequences. Other things, like hobbies and friendships, might get left behind in the shuffle. You may even sacrifice necessities, such as food, work, shelter to continue the addiction.
It is deeply painful to realize you are addicted to something. But not realizing it can be even worse. You need to admit it to yourself first to begin a journey of improvement and healing, which always starts with becoming aware. Ask yourself whether the symptoms of addiction describe your current situation and, if they do, take time to plan for an exit and commit to it as much as you can.