There are a million things that people find themselves addicted to. We throw the word around like it’s candy falling out of an piñata. We say things like “I’m sooo addicted to World of Warcraft right now” (I’m not a gamer. Can you tell?) or “I can’t stop watching Grey’s Anatomy. I think I’m addicted”. Psychology Today describes addiction as a compulsive behavior that has adverse effects on things like work, relationships and your health but what if you’re addiction doesn’t? Is it still an addiction if you just can’t stop but it’s not really affecting anyone? A lot of addictions are ridiculously serious (drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling) and I’m not, in any way, diminishing the devastating effects that these addictions have on people and their families but what if you’re addiction is something a little less serious. What if you’re addiction is something that you can laugh at? What if you’re a highly functioning addict and there really aren’t any adverse affects to you or those around you?
The reason why I’m writing this particular post is because I have a problem. I can’t stop spending my money on iTunes. Movies, music and TV shows are my drugs of choice and when I look at my bank statement, I would say a good 70% of my earnings is spent on buying things that I know I can download for free. It’s really a pointless and easily avoidable addiction but it doesn’t seem to make any difference. I’ve started and now I can’t stop. Now I know that there’s absolutely no way my “addiction” can compare to the real addictions that people have with drugs and the like but when I think about the amount of time and money I spend on downloading these things it makes me wonder what else my money would be spent on if I had never discovered iTunes. How much larger would the sum in my savings account be? Would I be living on my own rather than at home because I could afford it? Would I be enjoying life more? There are just so many questions and outcomes!
Ultimately by asking myself these questions it raised more, so it also makes me wonder about how we perceive addiction, both societally and individually, and those people who are affected by it? Has our society become so hung up on the word “addict” that we automatically assume the worst possible meaning? That a person can only be an addict if they are junkie’s, alcoholics or owe thousands of dollars to a loan shark for gambling debts? Sure there are plenty of stereotypes out there for us to associate addiction with – there’s the man on the street corner who’s homeless and therefore (obviously) a junkie but what about those men and women who have high powered jobs, luxury homes and adoring families who are considered addicts of whatever their drug of choice is? Do we treat them differently from the way we would treat the homeless man? Maybe we don’t realise it at the time but I’m sure that we do treat the various types of addict differently from one another. For example, my younger sister works for a stock broking firm and the men who work there are professional, well-dressed and responsible men but my sister describes them as being functional alcoholics. They’re constantly bailing on the office to go to “work” lunches and frequently turn up in the morning hung-over but she doesn’t shy away from them. She continues to work with them as if there’s nothing wrong but I’m sure that if she saw a homeless man on the street with a bottle of rum in his hand in the middle of the day, she would do her best to avoid coming into contact with the man. This reaction is not uncommon and we’re all guilty of it at some stage in our lives. A lot of the time, we see addiction as being this horrible thing and it is but I think that everyone is addicted to something whether we are aware of it or not. For me it’s spending ridiculous amounts of money on iTunes, for others it might be something even more everyday and inconspicuous like coffee or chocolate so perhaps we should just take a moment and think: What am I addicted to?