Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Addicted? Who, Me?

On a lighter note, this article (click here for the full Q and A) was somewhat intriguing for a person like myself with both soft and hard (light and heavy, round and square) addictions. Judith Wright, co-founder of the Wright Institute for Lifelong Learning in Chicago, explains how to recognize and overcome soft addictions like too much TV, shopping, surfing the Net (not Beyond Blue though), or gossiping.
Following are some samples of soft addictions, what underlying hunger they are trying to fill, and suggestions on how to satisfy the hunger in a more fulfilling way. (Beware: some of them ain’t going to work for the hard-core addicts. In fact, you might want to read these with a major grain of salt. They’re good to get you thinking, but I doubt they’ll bring you home.)


Soft Addiction: Watching TV
Hunger: To feel connected
Alternative: Call a friend and go out to a play
Soft Addiction: Surfing the Internet
Hunger: To learn and grow
Alternative: Go to a museum or a lecture on a subject that intrigues you
Soft Addiction: Overwork
Hunger: To matter
Alternative: List the ways you make a difference, and take pride in your contribution
Soft Addiction: Gossiping
Hunger: To connect and to belong
Alternative: Talk about yourself and the person you are with, rather than others
Soft Addiction: Name Dropping
Hunger: To be important
Alternative: Talk about what matters instead of who matters
Soft Addiction: Shopping
Hunger: To feel abundant
Alternative: “Shop” for friends, ideas, possibilities instead of stuff
Soft Addiction: Fast Food
Hunger: To be fulfilled
Alternative: Have quick treats that aren’t food
Soft Addiction: Chat Rooms
Hunger: To feel connected
Alternative: Call a friend and “chat live”

  • Donna

    These are excellent suggestions. The fact that they are simple makes them doable. Solutions to problems don’t always have to be complicated, time consuming or analyzed to death. Being willing to make a decision & take a decisive action more often than not is all that is required for improving one’s life.

  • scribe_fairy

    Wow! What I think most important was listing the hunger in search of fulfillment. I wonder, could my addiction to “love relationships” actually be trying to fulfill several of the same hungers? It sure does give me something to think about. :)

  • SuzanneWA

    “Soft” addictions harm, only if done to extremes. There’s nothing wrong with having some “chips & dip” or a chocolate “kiss” once in awhile, without feeling guilty. And if one limits TV viewing to a couple hours a week, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, I DO agree with Therese that “chat rooms” CAN be addictive. I have a handful of sites that I “belong” to, and feel they help ME, as much as I help the others; although the suggestion to chat “live” with a friend is SO much better! Keep up the good work, Therese, in making us aware that even “soft” addictions can be habit-forming!

  • issy

    These are some pretty good examples of other forms of addictions. If America could use alternative things, like hiking, oceans, lakes, fishing, camping, etc. we would not have so many problems with our youths also our adults. We need to wake up and smell the wildnerness people!!! Get out there and do something healthy for yourselfs. Spend some time with your kids…..

  • Gary

    A BIT SIMPLISTIC. My best friend of 40 years is a “workaholic.” His need for doing so is not “to matter.” He knows he does. He’s a CPA. For him it’s all about avoiding looking at some deep-seated problems–trust and intimacy primarily. He can never stand to be alone with nothing to do. He might have to look inside, so all time is filled with work or something else as obsessive. Just another points of view.

  • Nora

    anything done to excess for too long has the potential of making some part of my life unmanageable which is the 12 step way of self defining an addiction as I understand the 12 steps.
    All things in moderation then.
    The internet is the only place to go in a small town for knowledge besides the library (my other favorite haunt) which is often likewise small.
    Friends are not easy to come by and I for one would like to know why.
    Sure I would like more of the quality things but they are harder to come by than the quantity ones. I do not have it all. I have things that are wonderful like my husband, my freinds and tewo fwn healthy children who I managed to keep alive (a big worry for me when they ewere growing up left over from parents)I also have 5 grandkids who I can’t visit since i live a half a world away and who I can’t seem to talk or email or IM either and that makes me very sad. I sent my grandson a letter but I am not too sure if there will be a response. I think we all have some area of life that feels like a mjor thing and is not working.
    What i am saying is that I still have things to reconsil in my mind and those niggling thoughts lead me to addictions of all sorts, mostly of the minor type.
    I am trying to decide how to cut down my time at the inbox of Outlook now. What can I jetison? Meanwhile I have no problem chatting online rather than on the telephone. It’s cheaper over here. Not al lthings that look like addictions are.
    I used to go window shopping with my bf of that time and think: how wonderful I do not nned to own that. I do not need it cluttering up my life or paying it off. Itsn’t that great!
    Still thinking.
    Love and Peace to all, Nora

  • sharon

    soft addictions are just a part of life….You should find something postive in everything you do and everyone you know….smile!!When you have a postive attitude you are treated in a postive way …even on your worst day..Believe me been there!!!

  • Jackie

    Hey I’ve been dealing with various addictions my whole life. I don’t think all addictions are bad. I do believe in therapy and listening to a different point of view. I think it puts things in a better perspective. The Internet addicting? Can I just say LOL! It’s my lifeline. I know I’m an addict. I live rurally and we only have one car in my family. This is my window to the world. I would rather have this addiction than drugs or booze or something else that is destructive. When George Burns was interviewed and asked how he lived so long he said “Everything in moderation”. There ya go.

  • William

    I feel addictions are addictions neither hard or soft. If they get in the way of your personal well being then they are an issue; however, if the choices you make bring you closer to yourself and others then they are not a problem. Being connected to oneself and the people you care for is the most important item in our lives, and the ideas shared about the whys, and what you can do instead was great help…..and shows us or (Me) that I need to take inventory every day Thanks…….

  • gianna

    what about watching sports?

  • Marie

    When I have difficulty overcoming an addiction, rather it be food, alcohol, or people the first thing I have to do is admit that powerlessness and be willing to reach out for help. I have an addictive personality, and I realize that I’m trying to fill a void that’s within me. I have to keep praying and asking God to fill that void. I also have to keep trying, if I’d given up like I wanted to so many times before I wouldn’t be here now.
    One day at a time….

  • Maria

    I have a chat room addiction but calling up a friend dosen’t always work. Reason why I’m in chat rooms is to chat up with new people b/c in person Im very shy and I just can’t seem to make new friends. I feel people judge me by the way I look therefore I walk around w/my head down and just mind my bussiness.

  • Anthony

    How does having a quick treat that’s not food satisfy your urge to eat taco bell? Doesn’t that addiction mean you’re hungry but don’t want to (or don’t have time to) cook for yourself? What would a non-food treat even consist of???

  • D. Valori

    Sometimes your friends aren’t available to speak with, so you go to a safe place, hopefully find someone who cares enough to listen; it may be reciprocal. Who knows?? There are a lot of scared, uneducated in some facets of life (medical,legal,etc.) that you might be able to share with them.
    Aren’t we our brother’ and sisters’ keepers, helping them (and they us) carry our burden ad lighten the load on our hearts, heads, and spirits??

  • Stephanie

    I think that this entire ‘concept’ is ludicrous. How is cooking a nice recipe for yourself a bad soft addiction? What’s the alternative? Fast food. And what is a ‘quick treat that isn’t food’? Useless, that’s what it is. When you’re hungry, you’re hungry. Either you eat fast food, or you eat a nice recipe that you’ve cooked for yourself. The alternative to watching TV is to ‘call a friend and go to a play’. I, like many people, dislike live theatre. There’s something you get out of watching TV or going to the movies that you will never get out of going to a live show. Sure, we all watch more TV than we probably need to, but it’s probably because once we get home from our awful jobs we need to do something else to ease the pain, NOT waste even more of our time with some friends we probably don’t like anyway. The alternative to gossiping is ‘talking about yourself and who you are with’??? I don’t know about you other people, but if there’s one person I can’t stand, it’s the person who hijacks the conversation and talks about him or herself the entire time. The reason people surf the internet is NOT necessarily to learn and grow. A person gets something completely different out of Myspace than going to the museum. The solution to chat rooms is to ‘call a friend and chat live’? Most of the people who GO to chat rooms don’t HAVE a friend with whom to ‘chat live’. Lastly, the solution to shopping is ‘shopping for friends, ideas, and possibilities’. What the hell does that mean? I’d rather buy a nice pair of Steve Maddens than ‘shop around’ for a friend who also likes Steve Maddens. Cut to the chase, people.
    If I worked at a factory, I would probably find a lot of joy in coming home and surfing the net. Face it, it’s more exciting than working at a factory. This ‘book’ should have tackled the real addiction: going out and getting crappy jobs because we think it’s the only way to survive. If we didn’t have jobs like the ones we end up with, we wouldn’t need to spend the rest of our time numbing away the pain.

  • Debbie

    Boy! Stephanie how did you get to be such an angry person? The article was not altogether correct on every point, but it certainly does no harm. In fact, I think she had some good points. Simmer down!

  • Stephanie

    It wasn’t an angry post, just stating the truth my friend. If I was such a ‘mindless drone’, you wouldn’t have read the entire post. I’m happy knowing the truth, but angry that people are busy reading self-help books rather than actually trying to become happy. Are people seriously happy knowing they have a ‘soft addiction’ to self-help books and articles? Will you be happy if you stop watching TV and go to watch live plays instead? Sure, maybe you will have taken one thing out of your life, but instead added another. The fact is, everybody gives up on their dreams to become ‘successful’ and make a certain amount of money a year, make their parents proud, look good to their friends. We were given our talents for a reason, and instead we allow them to become ‘hobbies’. Maybe if we followed our dreams instead of letting them waft away into the abyss, we wouldn’t drown out our lives with television, fast food, and surfing the internet. Why? Because we would be spending all of our time doing things we love rather than trying to drown out our sorrow and pretend it doesn’t exist. Just think of how many hours a day people in creative jobs spend doing the thing they love. When you do that, you don’t NEED ‘soft addictions’ like TV, self-help books, and the internet to solve your problems for you.

  • Linda M Bemis

    Root causes for addiction starts with comercials and the chemicals that make you buy more. Cigarettes, soda and coffee. Man made sugar. Habits can be hard to break with an exception. I don’t want to change theory by most until it is too late. I balance, moderate and judge how much, when and what I want based on income. Does the habit effect anyone beside your self? Is there a health reason to change? These are some of the issues facing many people. Labels don’t list or warn us. So until we understand what is in the food. Don’t tell me how bad it is.

  • Terry Olinger

    If it makes you happy? How can it be so bad? Cheryl Crowe

  • P. Brown

    Yes, I can relly relate to addiction, i am a recovering addict and it wasn’t until i admitted that i had a problem and surrendered to the disease of addiction that help became avaliable, soft addictions can be just as as hamful as drugs/alcohol, thanks for the suggestion on gossiping because that can be truly harmful, speaking bad about someone else, talking about yourself and who you are talking to is the best way to stay away from gossiping…….Ms Brown

  • s&J

    Another soft addiction: READING COMMENTS FROM BELIEFNET

  • miss_piggy

    The soft addition, gossiping is a very similar situation that is current within the foor walls of the Buckley Family’s house. You make a brilliant “solution” to that problem, Judith!

  • Ruthie

    I don’t see any thing wrong in enjoying your computer. I love getting on and e-mailing friends that live in other cities. I also learn a lot from the net. you can improve yourself with the net. I have friends here in town and I also go places but I also enjoy the net and I don’t think it is an addiction. I had an real addiction and with the Lord’s help, I don’t have it any more. Put the Lord first in your life and everything else will fall into place. Life is all about loving. the Lord, others and then yourself. It spells “JOY”

  • Sandra

    This is great! I love the succinct solutions as a way to get you thinking. My 13 year-old son has an addiction to combative computer games. What is his hunger, and what could I bring to him as an alternative?

  • Kathleen

    Poor Stephanie, you have missed the point completely…..COMPLETELY! This article refers to “ADDICTION”….do you have a clue about what addiction is? It isn’t going to Burger King for a quick meal after a hard day at work. As for seeing a live play,…or for ALL of the “alternatives”, Stephanie,they were used as EXAMPLES, or as SUGGESTIONS, for goodness sake…. You are way off base here. I suggest you address your own issues before being so quick to judge and criticize. But I sincerely do hope that you take this in the spirit in which it was intended, which is hope for your future enlightenment and happiness in your life.

  • rachel

    I don’t watch tv “To feel connected” I watch tv so I can turn off for a bit and relax. Talking to a friend wouldn’t do this. Reading a book wouldn’t do this. I think so called soft addictions are safe. I keep sane because of them.

  • spanieldogmom


  • DMG

    I have to agree with Ms. Brown. I too am in for 14 years. I understand what the author is trying to convey to the readers. I believe that anything taken in excess is not good for anyone. Balancing is not always easy and it take really hard work on one’s part. However no one person is perfect and we just go on the best we can putting one foot in front of the other. That is why working some kind of spirtual program help’s you get out of yourself. The core of any addiction is self-centeredness.
    When any kind of addiction hurts yourself or another person it is not healthy no matter what kind it is. Let’s say you what too much TV and do not spend enough time with you husband,wife,girlfriend,boyfriend, children,or life partner. Then your relationships tend to get into trouble. Resentments build up and your relationship suffers. So, yes I agree with the soft addiction can hurt you or others.

  • “Z”

    I believe we all should take inventory on ourselves from time to time and make changes where needed. However, this “Soft” Addiction article is a matter of opinion and not law. It is true, too much of anything is not good for you. Persons who are abusing theses privileges (our constitution does give us the freedom of choice and speech) will suffer the consquences because of it. In any case, if you are like me, I have plenty of family and friends who love me enough to point out the things that does more harm that good in my life.

  • Daryl H.

    I’ve been in recovery and “clean” for just over 14 years and I understand my “addiction” is rooted in OCD behavior. What I strive for today is balance in my life and when I see (or a friend points out to me) an addictive pattern shaping I can then look at what need I’m trying to satisfy and take steps to get my life back into balance. I believe the article does a fair job of pointing this out.
    Some of the tools that work well for me are a healthy sense of humor, altering my perspective and a group of friends/family in my life that can share love, respect, and encouragement to each other; recognizing that recovery/life is a journey not a destination so enjoy the trip and the friends we meet on the way.

  • multi

    In perusing the comments made by individuals responding to this article, I can see all forms of behavioral knee-jerking going on by people having a hard time getting the point. Those that don’t are going to need more than this self-help forum to assist in determining an addiction or potential addiction. The question is, how do you become aware of repetitive behavior when it becomes non-productive in your life?
    Well, It may not be totally your fault!
    We live in a powerful media dense environment with all the TV, internet, mobile phones, etc. praying on our weeknesses. I’m currently having a hard time with the kids who walk around like zombies text messaging each other rather than have a normal conversation on the phone! What is that? With so many choices, few people even listen to talk shows on the radio that aren’t some form of info-mertial. Being so highly bombarded by an intelligent media that uses weekness to sell to age specific target groups, it’s a wonder how we can even resist becoming so easily addicted to something, anything. I can usually spot the jive in advertising but every once in so often there is a real bomb that’s really challenging to resist. And, it’s so much fun not to isn’t it? I don’t think I have as an addictive a personality as some people I know. I can only imagine how someone with a really addictive nature would get up in the morning looking for that new “fix” (or not sleeping at night because they can’t get away from it.)
    The bottom line is if we’ve lost the ability to determine what is good for ourselves, the media will be right there to emphasize how true that is by selling you on what you should do next with your life. The (drug) lines are open for anyone who is within earshot of a tv or other device. Personally, I’m a non-conformist so that keeps me in check. For those of you who are sleepwalking and/or sleep deprived and prefer to be sheep it’s a guarantee that the media will make sure you’ll find something to be addicted to…. My advice is get a hobby or challenge yourself by doing something different once in a while. Go back to school or read a new book: you should be constantly educating yourself in all areas including health (organic foods/medicine), your environment, world-politics, spirituality.

  • Angela

    I like this article and think it’s a way to get people to stop and think. However I’m a little concerned about the possibility for someone to over look a true food addiction for a “soft addiction”. There is nothing soft about being a food addict. Quit honestly giving me sugar/white floor is like giving a drug addict heroine. Also I physically HAVE TO handle my addiction 4 times a day. I’ve been clean for 2 years after spending 6 weeks in treatment with an assortment of other addicts. While in treatment, I spoke to someone with a drug/alcholo addiction who said he would never trade his addictions for mine.
    With that being said combined with what I gaithered out of the article I am sensitive to people thinking food addiction is soft. Food addiction and staying clean with it is about as hard core as it gets.

  • jadodson

    yes, I agree to the wotking to feel like you’re contributing, and all the others. Offering no excuse other than we are all human and all these things were placed before us through advertising and the american way and always improving our station in life. We are our worst enemies and those that do not have access to these things are probably wishing for them or working towards them, those that have them arer trying to not over-use them. Thanks for pointing these short-comings out, I wish I were the person my pet thinks I am.

  • Darci

    Everyone, and yes, I mean EVERYONE has addictions of some type or another. There are so many self help books out there that it’s rather sad that we’re not living in the present and enjoying every minute rather than always over analyzing our behaviors. How did our Grandparents and Great-Grandparents ever survive without all of this self help and advice???

  • Zulu

    I’ll tell ya what I am addicted to DIET COKE!

  • Anonymous

    How about chocolate

  • Ray Kemp

    I have been in recovery from a variety of addictions for more than twenty years. While I am not cured, I do have abstinence from my primary addictions for 18 years. The four most importatn things I have learned about addictions are as follows:
    1. If you cannot face the fact that you have an addiction (soft or hard) you don’t have a chance of dealing with it. (Ironically there are many people in the helping professions, like M.D.s, psychotherapist, and psychiartist who refuse to recognize their addictions) You don’t need God to deal with your addiction, you just have to accept that you are not God.
    2. Until you become open and willing to honestly accept the help that you need and reach out your hand for it, over time, your addiction will get worse. It is impossible to pull yourself up on your own bootstraps if you are empty at your core. We live in a culture of self sufficiency which keeps us from the essential humility necessary to make a legitimate request for help.
    3. Recovery is a lot like MLM. The few people who really get it and know to make the most out of it reap substantial benefits; the rest get marinal or intermitant result as best. You are either all in or you are wasting your time/living a marginal existence. “Half measures availed us nothing.”
    4. Life is good and filled with great abundance when you turn the self centeredness of addiction into a purposed filled life of contributing to others and living in the present.

  • ida

    Any simple solotion / alternative to smoking & gambling?

  • brett800

    addition? I love Ice cream the big sandwich kind. TV well, I do not watch much of that at all, I do alot of taping, because some of the shows I like are on late, and I am in bed. I have to get up very early for work. gossip, well, that does nothing but hurt people, and I do not listen to it at all.
    shopping that is kinda an addition, I use to much plastic, credit card. I have to stop that and put them away. That is nothing but debt.
    over worked no, I have a great job now, finally after 30 years.
    name dropping no way I keep quite. Any one I know I do not talk about and I know some people in very high places.

  • Glaye

    I am addicted to SUGAR. I have been known to eat over 7 thousand calories a day in candy, ice cream, cookies, cake…..anything sweet. I wish there was a program like AA for SA. I sneak eat and have been known to eat 2 pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream while driving home from the grocery store. I do not like myself because of my out of control sugar addiction. I weigh about 50 lbs too much. My little husband does not understand what makes me crave so much sugar. Three years ago, when Stacker 2 diet pills were stronger, I got off of sugar and lost down to a great weight….now I have gained back 40 of the 60+ pounds that I had lost. I try to go without sugar….I don’t buy candy or ice cream or cookies, but if I am at a meeting and it is there I will eat it as fast as I can, then feel guilty. Any suggestions anyone could put in the comment section would be helpful.

  • Stephen Hislop

    Caffeine, anyone?

  • cc

    Massage addiction??? sny sign of stress and you’re ready to schedule a massage…hahaha…hey the positive it keeps me healthy…:)and happy therefore being able to handle the rest of my addictions…hahaha!

  • Takeaway Newcastle-under-Lyme

    I think we still have to wait for a while to get the real effects of the stimulus plan. It will take several years to get back on the track again.

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