How we use the word 'Addiction'

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Diggo McDiggity
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How we use the word 'Addiction'

The word 'addiction' is a powerful word, and carries with it powerful connotations. To some, the word may carry with it the memories of a loved one lost to alcohol, while to others, it may refer to one's love of chocolate. Such is the nature of our languge, which is so limited that almost any word can carry with it a myriad of different understandings. And so, that is the challenge, we here at OLGA, are faced with when dealing with the word 'addiction.'

Some have suggested that we stick with the dictionary definition of the word. But even then, the dictionary is only a guide. It is the standards set by society which determine the true meanings of words, and so our language takes on a life of its own, meandering and changing with the times. And often dictionary definitions are added or changed to reflect those times. It is for that reason that we may use the word 'addiction' in several different contexts, relative to the conversation at hand.

1. Addiction as a 'chemical dependency' or a dependency which is chemically-based, but which may also include psychological components such as obsessive or excessive use. This is the classic definition of addiction.

2. Addiction as an compulsive behavior, but which is not chemically-based. While compulsive behaviors can stimulate the release of brain juice such as endorphins and sperm, those chemicals are arguably not addictive in the classic sense above. However, compulsive behaviors are those which a person cannot maintain control over. For example, somone may say, "I'm just so addicted to shopping, I just love going to the malls on the weekends!"

3. Addiction as an excessive behavior, but which is neither chemically, nor psychologically-based. This, along with the definition above is where we believe most online gamers with problems fit into. This definition of addiction can refer to someone who just has a poor sense of priorities, who knows he should be cleaning out the garage for example, but who would rather play an online game instead. The longer he plays, the longer he can avoid cleaning out the garage.

To differentiate the second and third points, one who plays online games obsessively, more than likely plays them at night. But not everyone who plays online games excessively, plays them obsessively.

As you can see, there are a number of meanings one might infer when using the word 'addiction' here in these forums. And so we have tried to limit our use of the word when possible, so as to create as little confusion as possible.

Ron <Edited by: lizwool at: 10/28/05 10:46

Co-Founder of OLGA and member since 2002

Patria
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I need to read this every

I need to read this every morning before sharing.

hirshthg
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i miss seeing diggo on

i miss seeing diggo on here,

i remember a post about a year ago with him saying.

no one will agree as to why you game, but we can all agree that sitting on our *** and gaming has been bad for us.

leveling in steps, serenity, sponcys, sponsors, exercise, and sleep, (sanity has been downsized)
sober from all electronic games since 11/19/2010

dan1
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I agree that there are many

I agree that there are many definitions that can be used. I agree with the distinctions diggo makes in the post above, although I think that 1 and 2 are the ones that are close, because whether the chemical changes in the brain are induced by ingesting, injecting or behaving seems to have little practical difference (from where I sit).

Here is an additional definition which I read recently and which makes good sense to me (I am paraphrasing it, so I won't quote the source, not being sure it's perfectly reflective of what was said):

If you engage in an activity which alters your mood, for the purpose of altering your mood, which also makes your life worse, and your brain gets used to it, so that you need your mood altered more (because your life is worse) and you need more of the activity to even alter your mood at all (because your brain has gotten used to it), then you are addicted to it.

The reason I like this particular definition (which doesn't specify activities or substances, but is very specific about how they act in a person's life) is that we don't have to go into our brains to see whether we are addicted. All we have to do is look for that cycle in our lives. It is a cycle that intensifies itself on its own (i.e., a positive feedback loop) and the only way not to have the cycle get more and more and more intense is to NOT HAVE IT GOING AT ALL. This, I believe, is why it is impossible to moderate addictions. As soon as you do it a little, the positive feedback loops kick in (there are really two--one in your brain and one in your life) and you will do it a little more...soon you will be doing it a lot more, and you will be back where you started before you quit. Or worse. The reason that the elevator is going down is that a positive feedback loop like this will not stop on its own until you die.

This is what I mean when I say I'm addicted to games: I see this positive feedback loop in action with regard to the games I played. While my game playing may not have been considered excessive by some definitions, I was definitely caught in it in this way. So I know that the only thing I can do is quit and stay quit. Or that cycle will start again for me.

I am a recovering computer game and gambling addict. My recovery birthday: On May 6, 2012 I quit games and began working a program of recovery through OLGA No computer games or slot games for me since December 12, 2012. No solitaire games with real cards since June 2013.

vesalian.prime
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dan939 wrote: If you engage
dan939 wrote:

If you engage in an activity which alters your mood, for the purpose of altering your mood, which also makes your life worse, and your brain gets used to it, so that you need your mood altered more (because your life is worse) and you need more of the activity to even alter your mood at all (because your brain has gotten used to it), then you are addicted to it.

I love this. I have been looking forever for a definition that captures equally the things we call "substance abuse", "food addiction", "porn addiction", "shopping addiction", "video game addiction", "gambling addiction", and this set of words do the trick.

In my NA f3f meetings, when people say "I have X years of clean time, but I know I am still an addict, because when anything feels good I want more of it and cannot control it", this is what they/we/I mean.

Perhaps a man who is worthy of the name should put aside this question of how long he will live ..., and turn his attention to this instead, to how he can live the best life possible in the time that is granted to him
Marcus Aurelius

Rainmaker_9 (not verified)
vesalian.prime
vesalian.prime wrote:
dan939 wrote:

If you engage in an activity which alters your mood, for the purpose of altering your mood, which also makes your life worse, and your brain gets used to it, so that you need your mood altered more (because your life is worse) and you need more of the activity to even alter your mood at all (because your brain has gotten used to it), then you are addicted to it.

I love this. I have been looking forever for a definition that captures equally the things we call "substance abuse", "food addiction", "porn addiction", "shopping addiction", "video game addiction", "gambling addiction", and this set of words do the trick.

In my NA f3f meetings, when people say "I have X years of clean time, but I know I am still an addict, because when anything feels good I want more of it and cannot control it", this is what they/we/I mean.

I so relate to this. Ie been so good up until yesterday and then that feeling hit me again... I felt the strongest urge come over me to log on. I had to fight it and rationalize all the reasons not to game.. How I'm doing so good and logging on would only lead to my defeat. Luckily it passed, an I didn't but I must say that at the moment it happened it was like and only friend. I've never done drugs but I can imagine its very similar to what a DA must feel before they get their fix. Defiantly chemical. I felt it in my brain. So I know that I can never do it again. Because of I do it will be way way worse and I fear I'd be lost forever it it. Like a binge eater... The longer the time passes that I don't game... If I relapse I always want more an more and more and its insatiable... I don't ever want to go back to that hell. So I need to always be on alert and recognize the things and feelings that are happening so I can stop it before it starts. Part of healing is learning the triggers so you can change.

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