Addictions: How do we define and utilize this term correctly?

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, November 1st, 2017 at 5:48 PM

The words we use and how we use them imply certain connotations and meanings that we may or may not be aware of in the moment. Take addiction. A word throughout history that’s had a supremely negative context associated with it. 

According to, addiction is defined as, “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice, or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.” 

I would suggest the act of an addiction coincides with the terms severe dependency and need. Furthermore, the behavior of an addiction can exist physiologically and/or mentally within the body. Thus, it is important to establish strict criteria due to the crude heaviness that addiction is so often classified with. 

First, I would employ a behavior as an addiction if the behavior impedes an individual from functioning day to day and lowers their quality of life due to an obsessive compulsion that an addiction can produce. 

For example, a drug addiction can impact the user’s ability of getting and maintaining a job because of the potential for the drug’s composition to alter the user’s mind and dependency on the drug. Not only in the work force, but the user may have to dictate his or her family and social life based upon their drug usage. 

A second element or criteria, I would assert, would be that the behavior completely takes over the individual’s life mentally, physically and emotionally. 

In the example of the drug user, the main priority over work, family and friends is the drug because they have grown a physical and or mental need to actively engage in the drug behavior. This drive to fill the “habit” is supported by the’s definition of addiction that was mentioned previously. 

However, it is vital to recognize how we label and define certain behaviors and use similar guidelines universally. Yet, I do not believe that we, as a society, are too quick to define certain behaviors as addictions because there are showing signs and characteristics that an addiction creates, and if noticed by others in a social setting, the person needs to be made aware that the behavior is abnormal. 

Moreover, I would suggest it is better to label or have the conversation that someone may be struggling with a harmful behavior sooner rather than later, so they can recognize it and receive help if they so choose. By being afraid of labeling someone or suggesting to someone that they may have a bigger problem and that this problem can or already is an addiction, you are allowing that person to continue with that behavior and make them think it’s normal. 

As a society we should be able to confront our peers, friends and family about addictions, because normally the behavior we see is only what they show us on the outside; we have no idea how far the behavior extends behind closed doors. It is important to help others acknowledge the behavior and allow them to delve into themselves and understand what drives their actions. 

Addictions come in all shapes and forms; I would suggest that people working over the limit of need or involved in compulsion may be in a form of addiction. But I don’t believe people are aware of it, nor see it as a problem in our money hungry, capitalist society. In America, we have the mentality to work hard and go above and beyond; however, the line of working too much is quite blurred. I would also offer that people addicted to makeup and beauty could be classified as addicts because of the immense pressure to conform to certain appearance standards and trends. I believe we justify the behavior of doing makeup daily and for long periods of time as the norm, but the compulsion and need to do makeup every day is definitely bordering as an addictive behavior. 

Conclusively, it is ultimately up to every individual to conquer their own behaviors and implement useful and positive coping skills. However, if you notice a friend, loved one, coworker or even yourself display any signs of addiction, there are resources on campus and the community such as CAPS, which can aide people in recovery and self-discovery. 

JoAllie Paluchak can be reached at

Tags: voices, opinion

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