Is Your Hobby Actually an Addiction? 5 Signs You Have a Behavioral Addiction

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It’s not just drugs that can warp your mind, undermine your health, and harm your family relationships. Behavioral addictions are just as dangerous, and you might be surprised to learn that they can cause the same chemical changes in your brain as drugs. The difference, though, is that most potentially addictive behaviors – sex, shopping, and playing video games, for example – are also healthy, normal parts of everyday life. Thus it can be tough to determine whether you’re just unusually enthusiastic about a hobby or dangerously addicted. These five signs, though, strongly suggest that you have an addiction, not just a hobby.

Your Hobby Puts Your Well-Being at Risk

Sure, it’s normal to overspend by a few bucks at the mall a couple times during the year, and everyone periodically shows up late because they were so engrossed in what they were doing that they lost track of time. If your “hobby” regularly interferes with your well-being – as when a sex addiction repeatedly causes you to cheat on your spouse or a shopping addiction drives you into significant debt, for example – then it’s not a hobby at all; it’s an addiction.

You Lie to Others About How You Spend Your Time

We all tell social lies from time to time. It’s not your mother’s business whom you have sex with, and your kids don’t need to know each and every detail of your day. But if you lie to the people who love you about how you’re spending your time, this signals a problem. For example, if you mislead your spouse about how much you spend shopping or tell your family you’re working when you’re really playing video games all day, you may have a problem.

You React More Strongly to Your Hobby Than Most Other People Do

When you have an addiction, your brain gets more excited during the addictive activity and comes down harder when it’s over. If you find yourself reacting more strongly to a particular hobby than other people do, it could indicate a problem. For instance, if you find yourself dissolving into a day of tears when you realize you can’t go shopping or you quit your job because it interferes with your gambling time, there may be an issue with addiction.

You Get Anxious or Depressed When You Can’t Indulge Your Hobby

Everyone enjoys spending time on their favorite pastime, and there’s nothing wrong with this. But if you need to regularly and consistently indulge in a hobby to feel “normal,” it’s time to seek help. Hobbies should add relaxation and joy to your life, not create stress when you have to pull yourself away.

Your Loved Ones Have Expressed Concern

Everyone has people who just don’t understand how they spend their time. The orchid lover’s wife might wonder why he spends his hard-earned cash on plants, while the devotee of books may struggle to explain what she gets from reading to others. IF a handful of people don’t “get” your hobby, that’s fine. But if your loved ones have expressed more serious concerns – by telling you they think your hobby is dangerous or that they’re worried about your finances, for instance – it’s time to consider the possibility that you may have an addiction.

Ashwood Recovery is here to help you and your loved ones overcome addiction and other disordered behaviors. Our counseling programs have already helped many of our clients get their lives back. Call us now to start your journey to recovery today. Don’t let addiction and other dangerous behaviors go untreated, and cause extreme emotional, mental and physical hurt and harm to yourself and those around you.

Contact Ashwood Recovery at (208) 906-0782 or