WE'RE ALL ADDICTS For Better Or Worse

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MIND

We're all addicts of some kind. Are your addictions good or bad? The word addiction comes from the Latin addico, which means "to dedicate." You could be dedicated to reading mystery novels, jogging, meditating, watching soap operas, drinking a six-pack of beer, or eating ice cream every night. The word addiction usually has a negative connotation. The darker side of addiction is the abdication of control of one's behavior, possibly even one's life, by giving in to a repetitive behavior. Addiction conjures images of uncontrollable craving, psychological dependency, and continuance despite personal harm. What do we become addicted to? Sex? Cocaine? Junk food? Buying unneeded yard sale items?

Addiction to Physical Substances
Let's discuss being addicted to physical substances. Look at physical addiction as a specialized adaptation of the body. Your body can adapt to many circumstances, such as different climates and different food supplies. When people become addicted to a substance, most often it is not found in nature in its addictive form. Still, the body adapts as best it can. This adaptation has one catch: You'd better keep the stuff coming. The body will adapt to nicotine, cocaine, heroin, pain killers, white flour and sugar, but the body will always demand more.

Whether food addiction is real or not has become a hotly debated topic. Of course we're all dedicated to eating regularly, or we'd die. For the first time in the history of humankind our food supply is mostly processed food, and we live with the new results of our physical adaptation. What happens when we adapt to this new food, either made of or containing white flour and sugar? The body demands more of the same. Obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders abound. You may have heard someone say, "You have to try one of these cookies; they're addictive !" Of course they are. Before addictive food became widespread, obesity was so rare that an obese person could find work as a carnival attraction.

Most people addicted to carbohydrates gravitate toward either sweets or starches, rarely both. Some are great bread and pasta eaters, while others drink soft drinks (liquid candy) and love desserts. Of course people ate cake 100 years ago, but only on special occasions, such as birthdays. Christmas used to be the special time to cook something different, like cookies. Cookies are no longer different food.

The Psychology of Addiction
Of course there's the psychological component to addiction, whether one is addicted to eating ice cream or to gambling. We all want to feel good, and we repeat the behavior that makes us feel better than we felt before. That's called learning. We deserve to feel good and we instinctively know it; pleasure seeking is the main motivation to do anything. Activities such as eating sweets, drinking wine, gambling, or having sex are fine as long as they find a natural, holistic balance in one's life. Yet few people have a good under standing of what is natural, and few know what a holistically balanced life really is.

The highest pleasure comes from the feeling of being in the flow of a balanced life, according to one's individual tastes and preferences. Servicing an addiction is just a stopgap measure, crisis management, in an attempt to feel as good as we inherently know we should feel. But as we are creatures of habit, we tend to repeat the past; especially those actions that helped us feel better in the short run. Dedicate yourself to activities that contribute to every aspect of your life, such as exercising every day. Be suspicious of those activities that either have a short-term benefit at best or are downright harmful. Become addicted to the things that give you the quality of life you want and deserve!

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By Patrick Plaskett

Patrick Plaskett is a hypnotist working in the Touchstone Studio, 926 16th St N., St Petersburg. He has a degree in psychology from USF and is the author of The Body Intelligent Diet: The Anti-Diet Book. Phone (727) 551 9340 or visit mindadvantage.com

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