4 Questions About Addictive Personalities Answered

wine glass at the dinner table

Often, people ask me why I often avoid drinking alcohol, refuse to get an Apple Watch, or stray away from diets like the plague. I say it’s because I have “an addictive personality.” What I usually mean when I say this, is that I have a tendency to numb my feelings or get carried away with an activity to the point of compulsion — instead of regulating my nervous system in a more balanced, healthier way.

Let me explain. If I have a bad day at work or catch a wave of social anxiety at a group event, like a wedding, my first instinct is to make that feeling go away. What is one of the quickest ways to do that? Alcohol…which is why I have to be careful. More times than not, my desire to drink alcohol is directly tied to my desire to escape uncomfortable feelings. Red flag!

Similarly, I used to get so overwhelmed with making “healthy” food and lifestyle choices that I would go overboard on how much food restricted and how much I would exercise. It felt like an “all or nothing” game to me. Much like my relationship with alcohol, it was the motive behind restricting food and exercising a lot that became an issue. Continue reading 4 Questions About Addictive Personalities Answered

When Does Exercise Become an Addiction?

woman staring in mirror at gym holding weights, gym addiction

Many of my high school days concluded with an exhausting volleyball or lacrosse practice. By the time I had finished a full day of classes and a two-hour practice, I was beyond ready for a high-calorie dinner and good night’s sleep. After I finished hours of homework, of course.

After a while, however, I began to notice one of my classmates hit the gym for more time on the treadmill either before or after these long practices. At first, I wished I somehow had that same motivation, the same drive. Soon though I realized how problematic the behavior could be.

Today, as we celebrate National Women’s Health and Fitness Day, it’s important to recognize that exercise can actually become unhealthy. Continue reading When Does Exercise Become an Addiction?

When Do Fun Distractions Become Unhealthy?

TV remote

In need of a little me-time? Zoning out feels like low-stakes self-care. So does popping open an extra bag of Pirate’s Booty — at least you’re not chugging vodka, right? Scrolling through Instagram for three hours takes your mind off a bad work day. Scandal is best binge-watched, and dedicating an entire day (or two, or three) to The Sims is the only way to win the Legacy Challenge.

There’s no harm in distracting yourself occasionally. Holing up for one weekend to ram through Red Dead Redemption 2 won’t cause too many negative implications — but if you’re wasting every weekend and every evening on distractions, you might find yourself floundering physically, emotionally and socially. Distractions can be damaging, whether it’s scrolling, emotional eating, Netflix-ing until dawn, or playing too-many video games. Continue reading When Do Fun Distractions Become Unhealthy?

What You Need to Know About Substance Abuse in the LGBTQ Community

person dressed in pride colors drinking

Drug abuse, especially opioids, is a culture-wide problem. It is estimated that about 130 people die daily in the US due to opioid overdose. While this statistic alone doesn’t capture the totality of of all substances use, it demonstrates the depths of the substance abuse crisis around the country. Sexual minorities, such as LGBTQ people, are often at higher risk for substance abuse issues, making these groups particularly vulnerable. Continue reading What You Need to Know About Substance Abuse in the LGBTQ Community

Is There A Link Between Trauma and Addiction?

woman holding a drink

Addiction is a complex process with numerous variables at play, but trauma may be one of the most important of those variables. By understanding the connection between trauma and addiction, problems can be better treated.

Unfortunately, the mental health field didn’t adequately recognize trauma’s impact on mental health until the last century. The problem drew more attention once mental health professionals saw more and more “shell shocked” soldiers after World Wars I and II.

Since then, we’ve come to understand that trauma isn’t limited to soldiers. Particularly in the last 30 years, we’ve learned that children of abuse or neglect, those who experience domestic violence, rape, and even random events such as car accidents can spark a similar patterns of mental health symptoms in people of all ages and backgrounds. Continue reading Is There A Link Between Trauma and Addiction?

What Does It Really Mean To Be Sober Curious?

man and woman drinking juice

After a summer of rosé all day, you might be feeling like it’s time to take a break from alcohol. Even if you’re not fall-down drunk, you still might be sick of hangovers or too many days when you just feel a little off.

You’re not alone. The “sober curious” trend is quickly gaining traction thanks to books like Sober Curious and This Naked Mind. “Sobriety influencers” are sharing the ups and downs of what a sober or “sober curious” life looks like.

Continue reading What Does It Really Mean To Be Sober Curious?

How to Break a Bad Habit

cigarette burning

Last week I was using my husband’s laptop to respond to some quick emails before heading to work. I was frantically typing away, wanting to hit send as fast as possible to still make my train, when a notification popped up on his screen: “don’t bite your nails today, Brian!” I laughed out loud and wondered — can you really break a three-decade habit with a Google Calendar reminder?

It turns out the answer is yes. Habits form after much practice and repetition, and that’s also how they’re broken. A daily ping on his laptop, cell phone, and iPad reminds Brian cyclically to change his behavior, making him more committed to reaching his goal. Of course, Brian’s habit is mild on the bad-habit continuum, so it’s easier to break as long as he’s dedicated. I have habits like this, too — eating meals in bed, almost always having a phone that’s out of battery, leaving my clean laundry in the hamper, unfolded for too long. But there are also strong, addictive habits, too, such as substance abuse, which can be much more difficult to break. Continue reading How to Break a Bad Habit

Why Self-Medicating is a Bad Idea

Person drinking liquor

I thought I was just like everyone else.

Joining my friends for happy hour, sipping on nice wine at client dinners, and spending Sunday afternoons at the local beer garden. It seemed perfectly normal that my social life revolved around alcohol. Since my drinking patterns did not seem any different from my peers, it never occurred to me to question them or view them as a form of self-medicating.

According to Kimberly Leitch, LCSW-R, and Talkspace therapist, there are many different forms of self-medicating. “Some of the more common forms of self-medicating that my clients engage in are the use of marijuana, alcohol, and sleeping pills,” Leitch said. From her perspective, self-medicating behaviors are often tied to poor coping skills. Continue reading Why Self-Medicating is a Bad Idea

Is Video Gaming Addiction Real?

A man sits in the dark playing video games

Video games provide a reprieve from our day-to-day life. We can escape into a fantastical, post-apocalyptic landscape in the Fallout series, or slay dragons and romance warriors in Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. After all, what’s wrong with a little make-believe?

Psychology researchers are trying to find out.

Continue reading Is Video Gaming Addiction Real?