Addiction: Too Much of a Good Thing
March 29th, 2011
Introduction to Psychology
The word addiction is often used incorrectly in today’s society. People are described as dessert fanatics if they enjoy eating too many sugary delights, and a person who is hooked on buying clothes is often labeled a shopaholic. These overindulgences may seem minor but if these behaviors are not kept in control, larger problems will happen and an addiction is sure to form.
An addiction is defined Myers (2008) as a compulsive drug craving and use of drugs even though the adverse consequences are well documented. However addictions are now not only limited to uncontrollable drug usage. Activities such as smoking, watching pornography, and even watching television can also be viewed as addictions. These acts may not be illegal, but if these activities begin to take over a person’s life, then this “bad habit” can be classified as an addiction.
Some psychologists believe that not all “bad habits” should be classified as addictions. A person who bites their fingernails cannot be labeled as an addict because they are still capable of living a “normal” life. A “bad habit” can only be classified as an addiction if the act or substance causes a person to give up important events and activities (Kubey & Csikszentmihalyi 2004). Overindulgences such as watching too much television can be labeled as an addiction due to the three aspects of the time, control, and withdrawal (Myers 2008).
First of all an addiction takes time and consistent use to build because a habit or fixation does not begin after the first use no matter how powerful the drug may be. This same principle applies to excessive television watching as well. A person cannot be classified as a television addict if they only watch certain programs once a night or periodically throughout the week. The addiction occurs when people begin to schedule their lives around their television shows. A person must be able to manage their time in order to have a balance between television fantasy and the real world. However this is not the case because some people will do anything just so they can watch their favorite program and if by chance they do miss their show withdrawal symptoms may occur. The same feeling that a person may feel if they have skipped a meal or forgot to do a certain task is the feeling television addicts feel if they are not able to watch their show(s). It is almost like the television is making them feel guilty for having a social life (Myers 2008).
Over the past decades, television addiction has risen due to the fact that more people are concerned with what is on the screen than what is going outside the screen. Many people today are drawn to television for the quick and easy entertainment that programs provide. Also the fact that there are hundreds even thousands of channels to choose from which means there is at least one for everybody. Television addicts feel that everyday life is too boring, and need to watch television in order to be entertained. Unlike people in the past who used books, writing, music and art as means of amusement and stress relief. These activities are still being used today but not to the frequency as some would suspect, mainly because television shows have created a niche in our daily life (Kubey & Csikszentmihalyi 2004).
Addiction is typically measured by the severity of withdrawal symptoms such as physical and psychological dependencies. Intense cravings of the substance can cause a person to become irritable as well as make the individual feel sick and ailing due to separation (Myers 2008). Withdrawal effects differ from addict to addict and depend on the therapy and the support a person receives but the real problem is tolerance level. Tolerance is the way that the brain adapts to the amount of the substance that an addict intake. Eventually the normal dose will not suffice and the