“Lite-Addictions:” Guilty Pleasures or True Addictions?

Are “lite addictions” guilty pleasures or a true addiction? Let me make a distinction. A true addict is someone who has lost the choice about how much or when to use and is having health, relational or money problems. If this is you, please seek professional help.* “Lite” addictions aren’t full blown addictions. There is still choice about whether to have, or not, the 2nd glass of wine, or the 3rd toke of pot.

woman-drinking-coffee-computerHere’s how the progression of addictive choices works:  Tired and stressed, Sally used to have a mocha latte once a week as a reward for a hard week completed. She liked the sugary, caffeinated rush, and began to not only look forward to, but crave her weekly shot. Progressing from a weekly pleasure to a “have to” daily, now if she doesn’t have her caffeine fix she feels depressed. She also feels guilty about weight gain and has trouble sleeping, but doesn’t make the connection between those symptoms and the coffee she’s consuming. The problem with “lite addictions” is that the more we use them – the more easily they become habits. And, habits can become addictions depending on our family history and genetics. In a sense, we’re training our brains to rely on unhealthier forms of stress relief.

big houseThe solutions to stress, anxiety and the problems of life are not external (take another pill, build a bigger home, buy a better car) and because of the economy this option is less available today. I’m not saying it’s bad to indulge in guilty pleasures occasionally. One key to preventing those “lite” addictions from progressing is to stay aware and to practice healthier stress relieving strategies. Body-mind strategies, such as conscious breathing, (take a few deep breaths…ah…), Emotional Freedom Technique (www.emofree.com or the book Intentional JOY), or imagery help break the habits of stress and connect with a more satisfying place within ourselves.

happy_290x218When we consciously and deliberately take charge of stress and anxiety we have the ability to choose whether to have that glass of wine, enjoy a yoga class or take a fun walk with friends. As we take charge of stress pro-actively we create more JOY, satisfaction and freedom for ourselves, our families and by extension the world. (*FREE 7 ½ audio tips To Turn Stress into JOY at www.lynntelfordsahl.com) *professional help includes 12-step programs, counseling, in or out-patient treatment – see yellow pages or ask your Human Resources department.