The main problematic characteristic of addiction is that is causes negative consequences for the people who are addicted and their loved ones. Consequences can come in many forms, from financial to personal to physical.
Financial consequences can occur when the addicted person neglects responsibilities in lieu of their addiction. Decreased productivity or inappropriate behavior at work can lead to job loss. Gambling addiction can increase debt as an addicted person “chases” the loss by betting higher and higher to win back what they lost, but more often than not they just increase their losses. Shopping, porn, or video game addiction can be very expensive, with the person spending more and more to fuel their addiction. Drug addiction can be very expensive, particularly prescription medications, and an addict will need more of the substance as time goes on to achieve the same effect, meaning more money is needed to sustain the habit. Repeated trips to rehab can become expensive if not paid for by an insurance company or employer, and overdoses cause costly trips to the hospital.
Personal relationships can suffer if a person chooses an addicting behavior or substance over their friends or family. Financial issues mentioned above can cause strain in a relationship with a spouse. Sexual or porn addictions can lead to problems with relationships if the person who is addicted places abnormally high standards on their partners. Gambling addiction, work addiction, and other addictions that take up a lot of time can create distance between the addicted person and their loved ones if they no longer have time to nurture the relationship. Addiction to illicit (or illicitly sold) substances can be dangerous and create an environment that loved ones don’t want to be a part of.
Physical consequences of addiction vary significantly. Some addictions such as gambling and shopping have little to no physical effect, while others can be deadly. Sexual addiction can result in the contraction of venereal diseases if the person has sex with an infected partner. Risk of contracting a disease is mitigated if a condom is used, but it does not decrease to zero. Work, internet, and video game addiction can contribute to a sedentary lifestyle that can contribute to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, among others. Exercise addiction often results in exhaustion or injury before it is discovered. Substance addiction can lead to overdose, which is potentially deadly. Each drug has its own negative physical consequences from severe acne to low body weight to rotting teeth.
Eating disorders, while not considered an addiction, exhibits symptoms of obsession and preoccupation that are similar to addiction. Anorexia is when a person has an unusually low body weight through compulsive dieting or purging, which can carry with it many health problems, including death. Binge eating is just the opposite, where a person eats abnormally large amounts of food at once, leading to obesity with its own health problems.
Each addiction is unique in its own way, and the above is just a brief overview of the possible consequences of addiction. If you think you may have an addiction, odds are that it has at least caused some problems in your life. Don’t wait until it is too late. Reach out to someone using the resources on this site and you can avoid many of the consequences listed here.