Jan 11th 2020





Addiction seems to be more prevalent than ever and, without making light of the suffering involved, everyone is potentially addicted to something – from phones, the internet, social media, shopping, gambling, smoking, alcohol and drugs - the list continues to grow. The charity Action on Addiction states that 1 in 3 people are addicted to something[1].

But what distinguishes an addict from a non-addict or “heavy user” or someone with perhaps just a “habit” that needs attention? And how do different groups or communities decide who is an addict, who is not and how to tackle the problem?


Views and Opinions


There are many views and opinions on what makes an addict an addict (type in “addiction” on Google and there were 85 million hits at the time of writing)- on one end of the spectrum there are those that just don’t believe addiction to be anything other than a lack of will-power or “moral fibre”. At the other end is the view as addiction as a disease, or a brain disorder. Religious groups, medical professionals, therapists, scientists can all vary in the definition of addiction but what seems to be an agreed is general understanding as:

(a) engagement in a behaviour to satisfy a craving or desire,

(b) preoccupation with the behaviour,

(c) temporary satisfaction of the desire or craving,

(d) loss of control with regards to engaging in the behaviour (inability to stop when desired,


(e) suffering negative consequences[2].


It is perhaps (d) and (e) “loss of control” and “suffering negative consequences” that underlies the pain and struggle of an addiction as opposed to that of an unhealthy habit, although the lines may often appear blurred.


How does this help?


If your habit is costing you more than money (or time) then you may feel you want some support or help in freeing yourself from its grip.  There are many support groups online and in the community that can offer insight and understanding. 12 Step meetings are available for many types of addictions and the fellowship to be found within them can literally save lives. Very little, if any, recovery can be done alone; addiction is often a secretive, isolating condition. If you feel alone, helpless and hopeless then the first thing to do is reach out and talk to someone.

If you would like to speak about your situation in confidence then please contact me. I have many years of experience working with addiction and recovery from it. I would be happy to speak to you either by phone in the first instance or by arranging a meeting in person. Help is out there for you. The first step is often the hardest.



[1] (Accessed 14th June 2019)

[2] Considering the definition of addiction . 2011 Oct; 8(10): 4025–4038.Published online 2011 Oct 20. doi:  (Accessed 14th June 2019)