When most people think about getting help with addiction, they tend to think of drugs, alcohol, or gambling. But there are many seemingly benign activities that can become an addiction for some people.

For some, watching porn is an activity done once in a while for fun, while others watch for hours every day alone. Some people shop only when they need something. Others spend more than they can afford chasing a feeling that shopping gives them. And for many, the urge to pick up their phone and “check it” is just too powerful.

Whether it’s substances, social media, sex, video games, food, or anything that turns into a dependence, if it becomes a negative influence in our lives, a line has been crossed.


Here are 5 signs you may need help with addiction


1. Your priorities have changed


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If there has been a recent change in priorities, you may need help with addiction.


Family, work, and social activities with friends are the things we typically give priority to our lives. But when other activities or pursuits become such a priority that we neglect our work or time with family and friends, it’s a sign there may be a problem.

A dangerous priority can be recognized not only by how much you’re doing something, but also by how much you’re not doing other things.

Sleep, exercise, time with friends and family, and work are all areas that can suffer when addiction begins to take over your life.


2. It’s too rewarding


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Rewarding yourself is great. Doing it all the time can be a slippery slope.


We all take pleasure in doing certain activities. Working in the yard, hiking, or watching sports can make us happy. And that’s perfectly natural. But there is a problem when you start to feel good or happy only when involved in your addiction. Additionally, you may even begin to notice you feel particularly unhappy when not doing the activity.

Believe it or not, many addictions, including alcohol and drugs, start simply out of boredom. Fear, or discomfort with boredom, often drives people to drink, use drugs, gamble or escape into “doomscrolling.”

If this sounds familiar, you may want to explore getting help with addiction.


3. Failed attempts to stop


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Repeated, failed attempts to stop a certain behavior is a major warning you need help with addiction.


Maybe you start out thinking, “I’ll just have two drinks” or smoke one bowl or do whatever “just a little.” But then you find yourself drinking or smoking more, or doing the activity for longer than you planned.

Maybe you become angry when something or someone tears you away from the activity. Maybe you feel you have to hide the amount of time or money you spend on this activity. Maybe you feel ashamed or guilty about engaging in this activity. If any of this feels familiar, you may have a problem.


4. You feel anxious when not doing activity


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If you feel more anxious when not doing an activity, you may need help with addiction.


One of the clearest indicators of an addiction is the anxiety felt when not doing the activity, or when even thinking about having to give up the activity. The higher level of panic you feel about giving up this activity, even for just one day, the stronger the addiction may be.

Additionally, if you spend a lot time thinking about drinking (or not drinking) or planning to drink, or getting alcohol or avoiding getting caught drinking (or any other activity) then this is a sure sign you have a problem.


5. Avoiding others and hiding the activity


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Feeling embarrassed about, guilty, or hiding an activity is an indication you need help with addiction.


Isolation is perhaps the biggest behavioral change associated with addiction. When addiction sets in, the desire to withdraw and hide from others increases. Similar to isolation is a loss of interest in healthy hobbies or activities you used to enjoy.

If you used to enjoy hiking with friends on the weekend, but now all you do is sit around the house drinking, smoking, gambling online, looking at porn or whatever the case may be, it’s time to get help with addiction.

Life is too short to spend it battling the urge to engage in behaviors that move you away from the life that you want. If you’ve done everything you can on your own and are still struggling, find an awesome therapist you like and trust to help with addiction so you can start creating the life you want.


James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.