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Passion vs. Addiction

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Although some may believe that there is little distinction between passion and addiction, the two are in fact very different.

While we may jokingly describe being "addicted" to something (or even someone) that we are extremely passionate about, true addiction is neither desirable nor pleasurable. No one really wants to be addicted, and very few addicts ever imagined that their lives would end up in a destructive cycle of feeding their addiction, psychologically and physiologically dependent upon something that they can no longer control.

Passion represents something that we can all strive for; a measure of our delight and enthusiasm for something highly desirable. When we are passionate about something, we are filled with positive emotions such as excitement and delight. Time spent passionately pursuing a goal, leaves us fulfilled and satisfied.

Balance and moderation key to passionate behavior

It becomes a little more difficult to make the distinction between passion vs. addiction when describing certain compulsive behaviors. Some activities by their very nature result in behavior that could be described as obsessive and extremely time consuming. However, there is a big difference between being passionate about a favorite hobby, and allowing that activity to take over one's life in a destructive pattern of irrational and uncontrollable behaviour. For example, a person may be passionate about running and spend hours training in order to compete in an event. However, an addiction to over exercising for the purpose of extreme weight loss is considered to be unhealthy and destructive.

Gaming, gambling, shopping, and sex are all examples of activities that can become addictive when moderation is not practiced, and the compulsion to keep going continues despite harmful consequences. There is no joy or satisfaction to be gained from addictive behavior. Fulfilment remains elusive and guilt and desperation accompany uncontrollable cravings, short-term gratification, and damaging long-term effects, mentally, socially, and financially.

Warning signs that point to addictive behavior

So how do you know whether or not you are sliding into a pattern of behavior that is potentially addictive as opposed to enjoying an activity you feel passionate about? There are a few warning signs that may indicate trouble ahead. People who feel passionate about something usually live balanced lives. Addictive behavior focuses on the addiction to the exclusion of everything else. You can be passionate about something, yet still retain control of your behavior. This is not the case, when someone is addicted.

Addictive behavior is often shrouded in secrecy, denial, and guilt. Normal day-to-day functioning is adversely affected, and attempting to cut-back on the addictive behavior causes anxiety, irritability, and intolerable distress. Passion is based upon positive emotions associated with an activity, and generates deep satisfaction and fulfilment.