While we freely tag “aholic” to anything we find ourselves or others doing excessively or are addicted to, we reject labeling ourselves, or being labelled as addicts. Addict conjures up images of junkies, emaciated and gaunt, syringe hanging precariously off their arm, in search of their next fix. Aholic, meanwhile, suggests naughty or cheeky behaviour and as a result we have ended up with inoffensive – sounding words to describe such behaviours:
Chocoholic – craves or compulsively consumes chocolate
Shopaholic – addicted to shopping
Workaholic – works excessively
Carboholic – consumes carbohydrates in excess
Workoutaholic – compulsive need to work out on a regular basis
TVaholic – watches TV incessantly
Caffeineaholic – highly addicted to caffeine
Martyraholics (co dependents) – hooked on putting the needs of everyone
before their own, harming all around them including themselves.
Perhaps being an “aholic” versus an addict helps us maintain the
illusion that we are in control or that what we are doing is naughty but
nice; after all how can compulsively eating chocolate be relative to
shooting up heroin? Being an “aholic” seems more socially accepted and
is perceived as harmless while being an addict is not.
With ‘aholics” we can rationalise the excess by playing the ‘at least it’s just…’game with the little voice in our head:
At least it’s just caffeine, not alcohol
At least it’s just chocolate, not drugs
At least it’s just pasta and bread, not sleeping pills
At least it’s just shopping, not sleeping around
While aholics may appear to be ‘safe’ addictions, they are in fact
toxic routes to something more serious. During a very insightful
presentation on ‘Understanding Addiction’, +Mandy Saligari, the founder
of Charter Harley Street said that “Addiction comes in people, not in
packages and to treat it we need to focus in the right place”. She
explained the 14 manifestations of addiction, which included the obvious
ones: drugs, alcohol and gambling, but she also talked in depth about
the crippling impact the manifestations of Food, Work, Exercise,
Shopping and Caffeine addictions can have on our lives. .
Mandy went on to explain that ‘irrespective of the type of addiction
and the severity the only way to overcome addiction is to uncover,
confront and overcome underlying issues”.
Mandy defines addiction as “the mismanagement of emotion by using
something outside of yourself, repeatedly, in an attempt to fix how you
feel to the detriment of yourself (and others)”. Aholics fits perfectly
into that definition.
A few words about Mandy Saligari:
As the founder of Charter Harley Street (www.charterharleystreet.com )
Mandy Saligari is revolutionising the way addiction is diagnosed and
recovery is delivered. Mandy’s success lies in her ability to operate at
the intersection of nature, nurture and emotion. She goes beyond the
obvious to delve deeper into the shifts that impact addictive behaviour,
resulting in a unique, down-to-earth and hands-on approach to the
prevention, identification, assessment and treatment of addiction.
Information on Mandy’s intensive workshops can be found at