This paper will focus on the phenomenon that is pervasive in our lives, although we may not always be able to spot it in ourselves and others. The issue is addiction, both physical and psychological. Physically addiction is a pathological body state when a person cannot discontinue the use of the substance without damage to one's health or physical condition. The state of the drug addict who is suddenly deprived of drugs is so severe that a person can go to extremes, such as kill somebody to get access to the drugs.
From this chronic condition related to the use of certain substances that results in physical dependence, the concept of addiction was transferred to psychological dependence on some material or immaterial things. For example, a person who has a passion for shopping can be described as a shopping addict. Somebody else going to the movies every other night can be termed a 'movie addict'. Similarly to drug addicts, these people are hooked up to their passion. If they lose access to the source of their addiction, they may develop depression that cannot be removed by any other benefit. At this point the hobby or activity becomes an addiction - if the person loses control over emotions and can no longer be happy without the object of one's addiction.
Surely in my life I have come across addicts of both types. Some of my former friends, in my view, had a sort of alcohol dependence or at least were on the verge of developing it. Alcohol is not a dangerous substance if one uses it sparingly, but if drinking takes place once in a week or more, I would say that the person puts oneself at a serious risk. Those people start seeking out parties not for fun, but to satisfy their thirst for drinking. I lost track of most of them now, but I am still seriously worried about their future. It is sad so many people today seek refuge in some addictive substances like drugs and alcohol, perhaps because the world seems to be too harsh a place to live in today. They replace their everyday worries with problems connected with getting their 'addictive' substance, and then they can turn a blind eye to everything that goes on around.
Subtler addictions develop in all kinds of people. It will hardly be an exaggeration to say that almost everybody has some kind of dependence on little things in life that males us crave these things. I would say, for instance, that a friend of mine is a TV addict. He turns on the set the moment he enters the room and switches it off only when he is about to go to sleep. I often get tired of this constant noise and ask him to turn off the thing, but he insists that it is not a bother and should stay on. At home he has a really upscale TV set with a large screen, and I can hardly imagine him living without a TV. The matter is that TV forms a background to all his activities. Without it he would probably have a hard time because he would have concentrate on one thing at a time, and now he has a valid excuse for dispersing his attention. This addiction is, in my view, purely psychological and affects all his mental processes. Another possible explanation is that he is too bored with his daily routine and wants a breathe of fresh air from a different world or setting - for instance, seeing exotic places on the screen behind him when he is doing something.
As for me, I am addicted to news - I have to be aware of what is going on in the world every day. This may be because I once had a job that involved constant monitoring of global news, or because I am such a curious person. Anyway, I feel frustrated when I cannot get to the Internet or TV to get an update of the latest events. I have to remind myself that the world is not going to perish without me. Some people may say that it is a good feature because it keeps me well-informed, but I realize that it should not be taken to extremes. Information can also become a source of addiction, especially in today's world where the stream of information is so constant that human beings are really at a risk for being overwhelmed and stressed by sheer volumes of information. At the same time when we get so much of it, we get into the habit of processing these huge amounts and feel lost and out of place when we find it missing, and the flow of information turns into a trickle. In my personal case, I really do not need to go into every minute detail of what happened today in the hot spots of the world since I do not any political decision-making. If I were President of some nation, this would surely be justified, but in my current situation it probably isn't.
I believe when a person comes to the point when some little thing becomes so indispensable that without it life turns unbearable at least for some time. I remember one more case of an elderly relative of mine whose passion was cleanliness. Katherine always kept her apartment immaculately clean, impressing her friends and relatives. But we also noticed that she was virtually obsessed with it to a point when it starts to interfere with human communication since she often placed cleanliness above human ties. Katherine was really tough on the younger kids who came to visit since they tended to run around without caring for her clean carpets and floors. We all knew that if we happened to bring some dirt into the rooms, the old lady will be terribly disappointed, so we did our best to keep our shoes clean, a thing that is difficult in muddy weather when streets are full of dirt. She even went as far as take bread crumbs off the table the moment one of us dropped them on the table as we were eating. Her relatives were more or less used to her habits to the point where one can put up with such things, but new visitors to Katherine's house were really intimidated by such passion. This is perhaps another sign that indicated that hobby or character trait has grown into addiction: when it begins to get in the way of human communication, it is time to say “Stop”.
These examples are mostly mild addictions that do not really spoil the lives of the addicts or those surround them. When addiction becomes more severe, it can turn into a mania that is a serious psychological disorder and makes a person a lunatic. It is up to psychologists to draw a line between anomaly and norm, and up to each of us to prevent and eradicate addictions in the mild form so as to escape serious problems.