M.Sc. et B. Radek German

Non-substance addictions (addictions to certain activities) have become, in addition to classic substance addictions, currently a serious problem affecting the physical and mental health of many individuals. People across generations, from younger to older individuals, struggle with non-substance addictions.

Non-substance addictions can range from excessive use of social media and viewing of digital content, to problems related to addictive relationships, pornography, sexual behavior, workaholism, excessive exercise, excessive shopping, and other activities. For many, social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok can be a source of endless filling of free time, but also a source of comparison with others and increasing anxiety, which takes place with the help of validation from the surrounding, external world. There is therefore a problem of possible dissociation, when an individual disconnects from the independent self and watches his life on social networks in a certain projection, in the role of an observer, thus creating two of his lives, and it is difficult for him to integrate himself as an independent person. He thus struggles with accepting himself and seeks this acceptance in his surroundings or in the distant online world. This often creates denial of one's difficulties and problems, with subsequent great frustration or anxiety, which subsequently results in psychological problems.

Likewise, computer games and video games can be a means of escape from reality. Their excessive use can lead to isolation and problems with mental and physical health.

Non-substance addictions can also include sexual behavior. For example, excessive consumption of pornography or masturbation, which can have negative effects on sexual self-confidence and relationships and declines in mental health in the form of frustration and anxiety. Workaholism, or addiction to work, can be caused by the need for success, confirmation of one's worth due to a lack of self-confidence, which is then often hidden behind the "sacred means", i.e. the need for finances, which can lead to burnout and problems in relationships.

Another form of non-substance addiction can be an addiction to exercise and sports, which often masquerades as a healthy lifestyle. However, excessive exercise can lead to overload, injuries, or eating disorders, when we are already talking about orthorexia, which is associated with healthy eating, going hand in hand with exercise.

Non-substance addictions can be difficult to recognize, but the signs are virtually the same as those of substance addictions. They include excessive time investment, anxiety and irritability at the limitation of the given activity, neglect of one's relationships, hobbies, and loss of control over the performance of the given activity, and others. Treatment of non-substance addictions requires a comprehensive approach that may include individual therapy, group therapy and addiction support, lifestyle changes, and in some cases, medication to manage the withdrawal symptoms associated with non-substance addictions. Non-substance addictions can have serious consequences for individuals and their loved ones, which is why it is important to be aware of the risks associated with these addictions and, if necessary, seek professional help.

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