Most people are relatively familiar with drug addiction and alcoholism. But there are many other types of addiction that we have to deal with on a daily basis. You or somebody you know might have a gambling addiction, a shopping addiction, an addiction to racking up debt on their credit card and even a compulsion to have sex with every person they find attractive.

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These sorts of addictions can have devastating consequences on our personal and family lives, wrecking homes, partnerships and marriages in the process.

According to psychologists, addictions are defined by their diminishing returns. An addiction forms when the same quantity of something is no longer sufficient to produce the effect that a person wants. For instance, eating the first bar of chocolate is intensely satisfying, but eating the tenth is not ten times as satisfying. In fact, it might not even be satisfying at all. This is the problem with addiction: addicts often know that their habits are destroying them and their relationships, but they carry on anyway because, in any given moment, the costs of giving up their habit are too high. Coupled with withdrawal symptoms, giving up the activity can be nearly impossible.

The Costs Of Addiction

Often the costs of addiction start off small. A person might blow $60 a week on drink or drugs – not an insignificant amount, but still enough to take up a considerable amount of a person’s income. After a while, $60 isn’t enough and they’re spending more like $200 just to get the same effect. They tell themselves that what they’re doing isn’t a problem, but they’re soon spending a vast chunk of their income that could go towards other forms of spending that actually make their lives better. A person spending $200 a week on alcohol, for instance, pays out more than $10,000 a year, about 50 percent of income at the poverty level. And given that 30 percent of all people below the poverty line have a problem with alcohol, this is a serious problem.

What’s more, there are other knock-on effects from drinking that can affect long-term prospects. Many people end up having to visit a DWI lawyer to defend against drink driving charges, and if they lose their case, they will have a permanent criminal record. This, in turn, can make it harder to get a job and move up the income ladder. Fewer opportunities mean more time out of work and a greater chance that a person will become involved in criminal activity.

Then there’s the effect on health and wellbeing. It’s hard to learn new things, excel in your career and be generally valuable to the world when you’re high as a kite or always drunk. It’s also difficult when you’ve got other addictions that are preoccupying your mind. A person with a gambling addiction might end up having to steal from their employer to fund their habit, risking their future income in the process.

At the end of the day, addiction is a choice between making yourself feel better in the moment and sorting out the underlying issues which are long term. Often beating an addiction requires processing the reasons for that dependency, whatever they are. A new year’s resolution, perhaps?

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