Before I start, do you think there’s a difference between addictions like alcohol, drugs, and gambling versus what some call fake addictions such as social media, drinking sodas, and eating sweets? Well, I would say there isn’t. The key to this question is, when did your life become unmanageable. To what degree is the habit in question making your life harder and harder to manage?
Sure, you can scroll social media without ill effects on your life — you’re still staying healthy and keeping up with responsibilities. Your life is manageable. But if scrolling social media becomes such a compulsion that your life becomes less manageable, a problem may be brewing.
That being said, all addictions are real. Sure, some have more severe consequences. You could go for drinks on the weekends, and everything can be good. But once those drinks become unmanageable, where you are starting to fall apart, an addiction may be developing. If someone is morbidly obese from not being able to stop eating sweets and drinking sugary sodas, that’s a real addition.
I have mentioned previously that I have an addictive personality, and today, I want to talk more about that. Frankly, I am uncomfortable discussing some of these things, but I feel I have to and should. Hopefully, my being uncomfortable and relaying some embarrassing things will help you identify and beat your struggle.
The first time I got drunk was at 16 years old. Apparently, I liked it a lot. I never drank a lot of days in a row, but every time I did drink, I would get absolutely destroyed. I was a mess and knew I had a problem when I went to college. I ended up quitting drinking for a few months, and then I went back to it, thinking that it was no big deal. But I drank to the point of excess every single time. I realized I was dealing with emotional issues and got therapy.
Strong people acknowledge their issues and deal with them. I got help through therapy, which I love so much and works so well for me. In our society, people often think you’re weak for needing help. The truth is that strong people are the ones who deal with their issues.
After college, I moved to Atlanta. I once again was self-medicating as I was depressed and sad that my life was not working out the way that I thought it would be. And even when I started making YouTube videos later on, I would drink while filming. I was drunk by the end of every video. I had a six-pack of beer on the credenza next to me, and in between takes, I would drink. I was lying about it and to myself.
That’s until I decided to quit nicotine, which I had been using since the age of 17. I was chewing two cans of the stuff. I stopped because I didn’t want to be the dude who had to tell my mother I had mouth cancer. I didn’t want to die. Bizarrely, when you quit something you love doing or that you did even though you knew it was wrong for you. It’s almost like you’re losing a friend. It’s been there for you as it helped you in some weird way. When you finally say ‘goodbye,’ it’s like you’re saying goodbye to somebody — like someone died. I didn’t think I could do it in a million years, but I did. And I also quit drinking because when I drank, I wanted tobacco.
One of the most challenging steps is acknowledging what you’re struggling with and needing to fix. Sometimes, we rationalize that we are not as bad off as others, but it doesn’t matter. If something negatively affects your life, you need to deal with it. Case in point — my destructive relationship with alcohol, nicotine, and porn. I’ve talked about it before. I wasn’t watching it all the time. Still, the concept and premise behind addiction is that it’s something you do that makes your life unmanageable and has adverse effects on your life. And pornography was having an effect on my relationship with my wife. So I had to get it under control, too.
I am most proud of myself for being able to quit chewing tobacco. I never thought I was going to be able to do it — it had such an incredibly toxic grip on me. Today, I have a much better relationship with alcohol — I drink responsibly, having one or two and not frequently. Everyone, including myself, is one or two bad decisions, from being broken, homeless, or having their life ruined. That fear keeps me in check.
So, what does it feel like to be addicted? Well, you know what it’s like to be hungry, right? You eat and feel good, and everything is fine. You get hungrier when you don’t eat until food is all you can think about. You start to feel weak, tired, angry, irritable, unhappy. You can’t think, work, or practically concentrate on anything until you get some food.
Now, imagine you have another hunger, except this one is even more powerful & compelling and must be fed even more often than your biological need for food. A fix is needed and other things may matter, but these concerns are secondary to feeding yourself. Imagine if you were starving. Would you do something questionable or unimaginable for food? Most people would.
Now is the time to identify addiction and take the steps to make sure damage isn’t done. The first step is acknowledging that you have an issue affecting your life. You don’t have to be broke, homeless, or in the gutter with a needle in your arm. It’s not about hitting rock bottom. It’s about acknowledging that something could potentially lead you somewhere dark and not good.
Acknowledge it BEFORE you get to that point where everyone has left you. Acknowledge it and do something about it. You are worth it, and doing the hard work will make your life better. Look in the mirror and resolve to make that change.