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When does a habit become an addiction?


Indeed I am addicted, I am not giving an excuse for this but its only fair to say that I am not alone in this.

Many of us are addicted according to scientists who have investigated addictions like the ones which we all know: alcohol, smoking, cocaine, Marijuana, heroin addictions.

But there are others: sex addiction, addiction to painkillers, gambling addiction.

The latest officially recognized addictions are: Smartphone addiction, tanning or bleaching addiction, but also food addictions, shopping addiction, plastic surgery and tattoo addiction among others.

There are several online systems to test if you are addicted and I took a few to test if they were all having the same or almost the same results, because after the first I doubted if I am a (semi-official) addict. The results were Yes I am.

The reason I called myself in the header of this article an addict is that one of the oldest organizations in the world combating and assisting people to get out of their addiction is: Alcoholic Anonymous, famous from many movies around the world as A.A. meetings. At A.A. meetings and other meetings and consultations it is believed that rehabilitation starts with admitting that you are an addict.

So, here I am a multiple addict admitting to be an addict.

Is my addiction bad by my own (or maybe your standards) No.

I am a multiple addict because I drink 2-3 glasses wine before and during my dinner every day. Take the online tests yourself and check. According to the Mayo Clinic and other medical sources, I am a borderline alcoholic.

I am addicted to information gathering and I almost always check facts, not only when I am writing articles but also when I watch historic movies and detect historic mistakes, when I read an article and I need background and other information but also when I see or hear interesting things and want to find out more about the subject.

At home, I am not the only one, we are all addicted whilst my wife and I thought only our children were addicted. Our son is a compulsive Gaming Addict and our daughter one of millions of young girls an Instagram addict. My wife is a gossip and TV series addict so I am in good company.

Recently, we discovered that our son’s addiction went out of hand and I dived into my addiction, information gathering to find out how serious not only his but all our addictions were.

Not only did I get aware of gaming addiction but I found out that we all suffer from: smart-phone addiction. Also known as “nomophobia” (fear of being without a mobile phone In this case also we are not alone. We recently came back from a visit to Bulgaria and the Netherlands and used in both cases public transport to go around and saw that almost every person around us was on his/her mobile phone.

When I told my wife; I am not addicted to my phone, I only try to get information that I previously got from newspapers, magazines and encyclopedia, she answered me rightfully; “Where you 24/7 reading encyclopedias and newspapers when mobile phones didn’t exists?”. Yes she is a smart one, and I had to admit I didn’t. SO since then I realized I am a Smartphone addict just like my Instagram daughter.

I am sure if I would have asked most of my companion travelers if they are addicted to their phone most of them would have asked; can you be addicted to phone use? Just as sure as I am that the rest would have answered; no of course not.

When does a habit become an addiction?

Any “pleasant’ activity stimulates your brain and creates a feeling of wellbeing.

And who doesn’t want to feel well? The problem starts when you over stimulate your feeling of wellbeing and start neglecting other aspects of life than feeling “good”.

Despite the big difference in all the addictions, from very bad to perceived good or not that bad are: Changes in personality: behavior changes, neglect of obligations, losing interests in everything except your addiction, neglect of hygiene, irregular feeding, etc.

These symptoms lead to loss of friends and social environment and network, loss of interest in job or studies. They can even lead to, not only serious mental health but also serious physical health issues.


Diving deep into our family addictions and seeing the consequences in my own family, I decided to take my first steps to my second addiction: I am reducing my hunger for information and started trying to be less on my phone.


I restricted myself to reading the daily news when I wake up only. First Ghanaweb, NU-NL, nd Novite a Bulgarian news website.

Then I go down, without my phone and watch CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera.

I don’t touch my phone, unless someone calls until around 11 when I check my messages on Whatsapp and LinkedIn and do the same around 4.30- 5.00 hr. and again before I go to sleep.


I managed to reduce data use on my phone with 70-75 % in the last 2 weeks, which shows how addicted I was. But like AA participants say; you will always remain an addict.


The damage that compulsive Gaming and Compulsive gambling can cause to someone’s life are enormously leading to serious mental health problems. The society of mental health professionals recognized Gaming addiction as a mental health disease.


People, mostly girls from 14-24 years old who are addicted and trying to lead an Instagram lifestyle are having more than 130% plastic surgery as other girls their age group and over 6% of all these young female instagram users are thinking about suicide because they compare their lives, lifestyles, looks etc to real, fake and enhanced instagram picture models.


People, like me addicted to information often lose social contacts and loss of interests in many other important things in life. They have serious issues when they can’t find their smartphone or don’t have access to information leading to headaches and depression.


The reason I am writing this story?


We are all more or less addicted to something, but we are all at risk to let this pleasing of our brains get out of hand with huge, unknown consequences.

So now you know, be careful and don’t let your pleasures end up as addictions because that can have serious consequences.

Author: Nico C.M. van Staalduinen, is a columnist with www.africanentertainment.com

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