Are There Healthy Addictions?

Whether it’s to drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex or gambling, addictions can be extremely detrimental to a person’s well being. It can cause lifelong health problems, social withdrawal, financial struggles or even lead to criminal activity. But what about healthy habits, obsessions and regular practices? Can there be a “healthy” addiction?

Addictions, by nature and according to the Latin root of the word, describe someone being bound to or enslaved by something. The person’s brain is affected by that practice or object through craving, loss of control and continued use in spite of negative repercussions.

In some cases and during recovery, controversial methods are used to help transition a person to a less harmful substance. Examples include chewing nicotine gum instead of smoking or consuming methadone instead of taking heroin. Ideally, however, the person then works towards no longer relying on this substance either.

But what if you are “bound” to exercise or eating well? Aren’t these “healthy addictions”?


Image Anastasia R

In actuality, once you lose complete control over a practice—no matter how healthy it might appear—it has the potential to be detrimental. For example, individuals can actually develop an unhealthy addiction to exercise which can lead to chemical imbalances in the brain and excessive weight loss all of which they can’t avoid due to a loss of control and perpetuating cravings.

In other words, the concept of a “healthy addiction” is actually a paradox.

Therefore, instead of pursuing a “healthy addiction” consider striving to perpetuate good habits. This might include exercising regularly, getting enough sleep each night, drinking plenty of water and eating well. All of these are excellent habits to form—but are all within your control.

Featured image Syda Productions / Shutterstock