Fighting addiction: how to get out of addictions and bizarre habits developed during the pandemic

Losing control, despite knowing its consequences, causes you to do or use things repeatedly to feel the effects.

Hunter Biden, son of US President Joe Biden, wrote about his struggles with addiction in a memoir published on April 6 of this year. The book titled, Beautiful Things, focuses on young Biden’s well-publicized struggles with drug addiction. To this, the President and the First Lady said: “We admire the strength and courage of our son Hunter to speak openly about his addiction so that others can see each other on his journey and find hope again.”

Everyone hopes for courage and recovery in this kind of addiction. Drug addiction stigmatizes or creates many barriers, and the person who suffers from it is less likely to open up about their habits. There is a sense of personal discomfort and sometimes acceptance is a problem.

It can often be the result of different personal choices and habits from diseases of biological origin. For example, excessive consumption of television content can wreak havoc in personal and professional life. And this, Abhilasha Ojha, a confessed recovering television addict, achieved it at his expense.

Singer-vocal coach, Ojha shares her first-hand experience when she started watching Netflix series day in and day out, “at the expense of my professional commitments and personal goals,” says the Delhi-based freelance writer. “I was in a trance state, not knowing when 30 minutes was more than six hours at a time. I hit rock bottom when one day I realized that it was impossible for me to put the “idiot box” on hiatus to drink water or even eat food, ”Ojha says.

It all started during the stressful months of lockdown last year, when Ojha quit her full-time job in April to focus on music. Since access to the substance of the abuse, in his case television, was easy and in his comfort zone, the process quickly got out of hand.

Losing control, despite knowing its consequences, causes you to do or use things repeatedly to feel the effects. Addiction or dependence on doing certain things is both mindful and stressful. Even though Ojha was aware of this change in behavior, she found some relief in the stressful times.

But how do you decide when strange habits like watching TV, playing video games, turning a light switch on and off five times before leaving the room, washing your hands 10 times before eating and, worse, transforming? addicted or the fact that they seem harmless but inadvertently become part of our daily lives?

According to Dr Megha Jain, a psychologist at Apollo Spectra Hospital in Kondapur, Hyderabad, the pandemic has witnessed symptoms and psychosociological disorders where people have been dependent or dependent on any type of substance or even a lifestyle. unhealthy. “Becoming addicted to something when you physically have nothing else to do is a very common and easily learned behavior. Addiction is not just about the substance; it can also be getting attached to whatever gets in the way of your daily life, ”she says.

Dr Megha Jain, psychologist, Apollo Spectra Hospital

A rewarding achievement
Broadly speaking, drug addiction can be classified into two main categories: drug addiction and behavioral addiction. Drug addiction is not just an addiction to cocaine and other drugs, but to simple substances like tea, coffee, sugar, etc. mobile / Internet or watch TV.

Actress-turned-entrepreneur Pooja Bedi says she is “tea happy”, who could happily drink 30 cups a day. His mornings would certainly be strange, incomplete, and perhaps even stressful without tea. “When you study NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) – a psychological approach that involves analyzing the strategies used by individuals and applying them to achieve a personal goal – you will know that your association is fueling your answers. I have happy memories of soaking Marie cookies and laughing if it melted and sank to the bottom of our cups, looking forward to tea with hot bhajiyas on rainy days or its warmth and coziness on cold days to boarding school, ”explains the founder of Happy Soul, a lifestyle brand focused on health and well-being.

However, the emotional state of being in such stressful times is individualistic and is directly related to the degree of physical and mental support that surrounds it. For Nina Kler, a socially hyperactive wellness activist and mental health advocate, social media addiction was both positive and negative. The Delhi-based entrepreneur felt overworked and fell ill with an unknown virus that forced her to slow down her life. “In the absence of social and physical events, I spent great hours of the day on social media because their appeal is certainly addictive without realizing it,” she says.

However, when her friends and family forced her to start her own business, it was her stress levels and anxiety that pushed such thoughts out of her mind. “Fear of failure, irregular income, and exposing myself to judgment prevented me from exploring this option. Covid-19 forced me to experiment with a video channel online, Pursuit of Balance, where we can talk about wellness and mental health, and in a matter of weeks. The comments were so heartwarming that they forced me to face my anxiety head-on and opened up a whole new path for me, ”said the 40-year-old writer.

Dr Nimesh G Desai, Director, Institute of Human Behavior & Allied Sciences (IHBAS)

Can Harmful Addiction Help?

Most addictions, when they become a habit, make you feel temporarily good by stimulating brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine. The moment your body receives an addictive substance, the brain takes a hit. It is only with time that one can develop tolerance for addiction.

Take the case of Tina Roy *, 38, who quit her job giving birth to a baby in December of last year. From four to nine cans a day, the habit of consuming a soft drink has become an addiction for this German-based marketer. “The money and energy spent consuming made me so anxious that if I didn’t put my drink in the fridge, I would run to the store to buy one,” she says.

As Roy is about to quit smoking, she tells us how her doctor helped her physically withdraw from the caffeine in his drink. She watches TV and plays video games but nothing before bedtime as this can affect sleep and put her in the same process.

People who invariably check their phones every few minutes are also tech junkies. In a media report last year, a Patna-based newlywed couple broke up when the woman said she could live without her husband but not without her phone, as the phone was her only source of entertainment. at the home of his in-laws.

Addiction to technology in young adults is common and may be an underlying disease. Dr Nimesh G Desai, director of the Institute of Human Behavior & Allied Sciences (IHBAS), finds that addiction to technology or excessive use of social media is a matter of pleasure-seeking activities and often referred to as most important part of a lifestyle change. “As successive generations become more and more uninhibited in their quest for pleasure, traditional Indian society becomes restrictive. It’s evolutionary behavior, ”says Delhi-based Desai.

Conscious control
Recovery is not an overnight process, but the good news is that such addictions can be brought under control and accepting them is the first step forward. Dr Jain says that developing a proper course of action with professional help would ease the situation, triggers that can have a relapse effect should be avoided, keep it slow and steady, step by step. at the same time, would give a more powerful result. . She says, “Exercise is the most important activity to include because it releases happy hormones leading you to a motivated self. Talking about the challenges you face will help move towards its eradication. “

In Ojha’s case, she began to keep a daily journal, maintained daily habit tracking as well as a daily schedule. These tools gave a breakdown of the number of hours and allowed him to see what could be achieved after prioritizing the goals for the day.

Bedi avoided tea and learned Reiki Level 2 Energy Healing, an ancient practice for reducing stress, improving health and quality of life, and supporting physical and emotional healing. She abstained from dairy products, sugar, meat, cereals or tea for 90 days.

As Dr. Maheshwari suggests, you have to understand why you trust it, try to use the timer and restrict use, distract yourself with other activities or just connect with people more often. “Simple strategies don’t work or if you experience physical / withdrawal symptoms it’s time to see a doctor,” she says.

* Name changed on request

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