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Exploring the Impact of Non-Substance Addiction on Mental Health

Non-substance addiction is highly dangerous and life-threatening. It is often dismissed as nothing serious because most people don’t know the impact of non-substance addiction on mental wellbeing. Non-substance addiction can immensely compromise one’s mental health. To know just how much it impacts one’s mental wellness, read on.

What is Non-Substance Addiction?

Non-substance addiction does not involve drugs or any form of substance but bahaviours. It happens when a person does a behaviour excessively or in a manner that can no longer be stopped. The most common forms of non-substance addiction are as follows:

  • Gambling addiction
  • Internet and social media addiction
  • Shopping addiction or compulsive buying disorder
  • Gaming addiction
  • Sex and pornography addiction
  • Workaholism
  • Food addiction
  • Exercise addiction
  • Tanning addiction
  • Compulsive hoarding

The following are the five grave effects that non-substance addiction can have to one’s mental health:

1. Increased Anxiety and Depression.

People who can no longer be in control of their behavior end up experiencing anxiety and depression. This experience all the more becomes grave when a person is already suffering from anxiety or depression. This becomes the case because non-substance addiction –– may it be shopping, gaming, or gambling ––– creates a cycle of stress brought about by the onslaught of negative emotions. People who escape from life’s challenges and end up having non-substance addiction do not get a free pass from negative emotions after doing the behaviour that they’re addicted to. They still feel bad whenever they miss deadlines and they are never safe from guilt. The sad thing here is instead of solving their problem, they end up having more problems because they don’t know how to cope. This will not be the case if they are aware of coping mechanisms. Because they end up doing things that are not helpful and add more stress, people who suffer from non-substance addiction end up being anxious or depressed.

2. Compromised Cognitive Function

People who suffer from non-substance addiction cannot think clearly. This is why they find it hard to concentrate and remember things. This is why people who suffer from non-substance addiction also become incapable of making good decisions. This is the case because their brain’s function is already compromised. The brain of a person suffering from non-substance addiction is already experiencing an imbalance due to the consistent flow of highs experienced from doing the behaviour that a person is addicted to. It becomes hard for the brain to gain equilibrium and peace –– that allows it to function well ––– when it is always on a high. This is also the very reason why as the person does more and more of the behaviour, it becomes ever harder to control their actions.

3. Financial Consequences

As individuals can no longer control their actions, they also end up suffering from financial difficulties. This is especially the case for people who are addicted to gambling, shopping, and gaming. People suffering from gambling addiction end up using money that they don’t have. Some even end up committing crimes just so they can get hold of money that will allow them to gamble continuously. The same goes for people suffering from shopping addiction. They end up maxing out their credit cards and unable to pay all outstanding bills and debts. Gaming addiction can also lead to financial problems because games nowadays require people to purchase stuff during gameplay. As people suffering from non-substance addiction have a hard time controlling themselves, they end up spending more than what is proper and even end up spending money that they don’t have. Such financial consequences can lead to intense levels of stress and affect one’s mental health.

4. Social Isolation and Relationship Strain

People deep in their non-substance addiction end up isolating themselves and straining their existing relationships. This is because of the overwhelming shame that they feel from losing control of themselves. People deep in their addiction know that there is something wrong. However since parts of their brain no longer function well, they fail to control themselves. They end up doing the behaviours that they can no longer control and since they know that this is wrong, they end up hiding it. In the process of hiding their addiction, they end up isolating themselves. They slowly stop attending social events and fail to interact with people in their lives. All of such lead to strained relationships. This isolation further makes them hard to help as it becomes hard for others to reach them and hold them accountable.

Social Isolation and Relationship Strain

5. Problematic Work-Life

As a person who is suffering from non-substance addiction can no longer focus, his or her work-life gets affected. They end up encountering one issue after another as they cannot think clearly and decide clearly. As they end up isolating themselves and feeling alienated, they lose touch of what truly matters when it comes to their professional life. As they also fail to openly communicate, they end up causing chaos and disorder at work. This level of stress is extremely dangerous as it puts in peril their source of livelihood. It is but a sad circumstance because problems arise one after the other just because a person cannot face reality. The choice to escape by feeling non-stop highs from non-substance addiction leads to more problems. As more problems arise, one’s mental health and emotional wellness become ever compromised. This is why, it’s best to help a person suffering from non-substance addiction as early as possible.

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