Now, more than ever, we have so many options available at our disposal. This makes it extremely easy for us to latch onto something to do, something to eat, something to drink.
Different types of addictions (just to name a few)
Drugs and alcohol
Cell phone use
When we think of addicts, we tend to think of gamblers, alcoholics and drug users. It is true, that some types of addictions are much more obvious than others, but we shouldn’t ignore the less obvious addictions.
Addiction to substances is fairly obvious in both usage and harmfulness. But it is the behavioural addictions that are more difficult to identify. Activities such as eating, cell phone use, and playing video games are conducive to addiction because they can give us an immediate reward. A quick fix. The problem is that these types of activities are seen as common occurrence and ‘normal’. If we become dependent on these behaviours to give us a fix then we are addicted.
The problem arises when our addictive behaviours lead to negative consequences in our work or social settings.
A few examples
Late night gaming may be making you feel good at the time, but how is your work performance affected the following day if you aren’t getting enough sleep? Your quality of work may suffer and you may be passed up for promotions, or make costly mistakes that result in you losing your job. This may then feed in to even more gaming to try and make you feel better and get that quick fix again. You may also gain weight by being so inactive. Or maybe your partner or family could be missing out on vital interactions.
Heavy cell phone use may lead to an addiction. Every time you hear an alert you MUST check what it is, even when driving. This could cost you your life, or someone else’s. Or maybe you spend half of social gatherings glued to your phone, missing out on priceless experiences among friends and family.
You may work too hard. We are often raised to believe a strong work ethic is a must. We might get a pat on the back from the boss, or a promise of a bonus, which leads us to working even harder. We are forever chasing approval from our work peers, but to what detriment? Your young family at home may be missing out on valuable time with their mum or dad. Or your husband or wife may start feeling lonely.
One final example relates to one of my recent experiences with behavioural addictions. When I discovered about the concept of early retirement, I was hooked. I spent thousands of hours researching the topic, reading books and blogs, listening to podcasts, cutting our spending to the limit. I was addicted to the rush of cutting years off our working careers. The problem is I was ignoring my now wife and her needs. We are in a much healthier place with our finances now and everything is in moderation.
There is a fine line
When does a bad habit become an addiction? Basically, when you struggle to function without the habit.
Habits can be positive or negative, but addictions are only negative.
My example of being obsessed with all things about early retirement was just a really bad habit in my opinion. There were obviously good parts to the habit such as education and improved finances, but the bad outweighed the good. It wasn’t easy, but I changed my mindset to moderation in a relatively short timeframe. Addictions take much more time and effort to change the behaviour.
Addiction is a bit more complex than habitual behaviour because there are physical symptoms of craving, loss of impulse, and withdrawal. You may know it is causing a negative impact on your life, but you are unable to stop the behaviour. If you know you want to stop the behaviour, but can’t, that is generally an addiction.
It is important to realise your habits may be having negative influences on other areas of your life, before the habit becomes even more ingrained. Once your habit becomes an addiction it will be much more difficult to stop.
For more information and tips on habits and how to control read my article here
Bad habits can easily become addictions, and these can have a significant effect on our ability to become financially successful.
Your addictive behaviours may not be a full-blown addiction quite yet, but be aware that you do have certain tendencies, as to limit your reliance on these behaviours before they become addictions. Many of us may be closer to addiction than we think.
Habits become addictions because we rely on the quick fix, but soon that fix may not be enough. We adapt to the fix, so now we need an even higher level of fix to get that mental high. We want more, and with everything so easily accessible, it is easy to get.
Not all addictions are physically life threatening like smoking and drugs, but our behavioural addictions are still important to be aware of nonetheless. They can lead to overspending, frail relationships, obesity, and having too much month left at the end of our money.
The best thing we can do for our finances is to keep on top of our behaviours by maximising good behavioural habits and minimising poor behavioural habits. This is key to living a rich life in which you are rich in health, rich in wealth, and rich in happiness.
If you think your addictive tendencies or habits have resulted in an addiction, then seek help immediately. Family and friends are great support networks to have, but there are other forms of assistance if you would rather not talk to someone you know.
National helpline numbers
National Depression Helpline 0800 111 757
The Lowdown text 5626
Problem Gambling Helpline 0800 654 655
Alcoholics Anonymous 0800 229 6757
Alcohol Drug Helpline 0800 787 797
Samaritans 0800 726 666 (free call number for lower North Island)
OUTLine (Confidential and gay-affirming GLBT telephone support and face to face counselling) 0800 688 5463
Lifeline New Zealand 0800 543 354
Youthline 0800 376 633, email or text 234
The information contained on this site is the opinion of the individual author(s) based on their personal opinions, observation, research, and years of experience. The information offered by this website is general education only and is not meant to be taken as individualised financial advice, legal advice, tax advice, or any other kind of advice. You can read more of my disclaimer here
So, what say you. Do you have any habits that may have crept up on you? Did you recognise that the habit may be causing more bad than good? How difficult was it to break the habit?