woman painting

So what are positive addictions? Positive addictions are the complete opposite of destructive addictions to drugs and alcohol. Some therapists recommend positive addictions for people who think that they simply cannot function without being addicted to anything. Not everyone will fully understand the effect or benefit of being positively addicted to something. Some people would simply like to call it as a positive habit. But addiction need not be a strong, evil word. Reversing the negative effects of addiction and turning it into something positive can help a lot of people overcome what they think is an incurable disease. William Glasser is the one behind the whole concept of positive addictions. He even wrote a whole book about it called, what else: Positive Addictions.

A famous scientist once said, “Energy once created cannot be destroyed.” Thinking of negative addictions to substances as akin to energy that can be transformed into a positive one may sound bordering on spiritual or even psychedelic. However, most therapists are familiar with the idea of “positive addictions” and although they do not call it as such, it is actually a prescribed treatment for a lot of recovering addicts. Activities such as running, walking, meditating, and carpentry (as a hobby) can be considered as “positive addictions”. Basically, there is no substance involved. A positive addiction is simply a habit that nurtures one’s belief in the positive activities that can be done without drugs.

To quote an author who may or may not have found her own positive addiction:
“This diary is my kief, hashish and opium pipe. This is my drug and my vice.”
― Anaïs Nin

So What Constitutes A Positive Addiction?
First of all, in order for it to be considered as positive, an addiction should meet the following criteria:
• Is it being done regularly?
• Does it have a positive effect on the mind/body/society?
• Does a person who stop doing or engaging in a positive addiction suffer from similar withdrawal symptoms (e.g. anxiousness, irritability, etc.)?
• Does the person believe in the positive effects of this activity that’s why he/she is constantly doing it?

So What Are Good Examples of Positive Addictions?
The proponent of the Positive Addiction theory, William Glasser, conducted his research based on the interviews he got from athletes (runners, in particular). At the time of his research, the so-called “runner’s high” still wasn’t known or even coined for that matter. That’s why the best example of positive addiction is running. Meditating, whether transcendental or not, is also a good example. Some people argue that as long as it has a positive effect on the person, it is a positive addiction. If it doesn’t affect relationships, normal day-to-day living, and one’s financial obligations, then it can be considered as a positive addiction. Weight lifting, dancing, playing a musical instrument, arts and crafts, even the act of planning meals and eating a healthy diet can be considered as positive addictions.

If you are curious about positive addictions, ask your therapist whether or not it could work for you. Some people reacted positively to this kind of “treatment” while some reacted rather negatively. At the end of the day, it is best to consult a medical professional before anything else.