There are certainly people who have no addictions--not to fear or gambling or coffee or cigarettes or nail-biting or television or alcohol or sugar or prescription drugs or  . . .. If you have no addictions, skip this item and move on. But many are not so fortunate. Addictions come in many forms and many levels of intensity, but what they have in common is that they are compulsive patterns of behavior that are generally detrimental to a person's well-being.

It's true that people often speak of positive addictions such as exercising, keeping clean, or practicing a musical instrument. Without quibbling about words, we could say that even these activities can get out of hand if they become compulsive and obsessive, thus turning a dedication to weight loss into anorexia.

The essential questions are: Who is in charge here--me or the behavior? Is this behavior having a negative impact on my life or the lives of those around me? In some cases--smoking cigarettes, for instance--the cigarettes almost always control the smoker, and the smoking negatively impacts the smoker and those who inhale the secondhand smoke. Other borderline cases like watching too much tv are not so clear cut. Maybe the entertainment value and the sharing of the experience with others offer personal benefits. Maybe the watching is excessive, but not compulsive. And maybe hour after long hour practicing the piano is necessary to eventually produce a Mozart.

In facing up to and conquering possible addictions two qualities are essential: honesty and commitment. First be honest about the extent to which you may be practicing detrimental addictive behavior. Identify your addiction. Then make a commitment to conquer it. Both steps are difficult, but especially the second, and especially if the compulsive behavior involves alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. Yes, conquering an addiction is difficult, but it can be done. And you will be amazed at how much your life changes for the better once you have beat it.

If necessary, get professional help from a counselor. Or consider joining a group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Nicotine Anonymous.  For some, an addiction treatment center like those featured at may be the solution.


How has your life been affected by addictive behavior, your own or that of others? What role if any does addiction, or compulsive behavior, play in your life now? What addictions have you conquered? What ones remain? Do you have any "positive addictions"? Any borderline addictions? What could you do to take charge of the situation and break free? Write this out in a few paragraphs, and if and when you are ready share it with a "buddy."