Can you spot the addict?

Addiction: A degree of involvement in a behaviour that can function both to produce pleasure and to provide relief from discomfort, to the point where the costs appear to outweigh the benefits. (McMurran, 1994).



Any one of these people could be an addict. From alcohol and cigarettes, to sex or shopping, chances are at least someone you know “needs” a little something to help them get through the day.

For a food addict, like Julia, often there is no escape from the issue, no support to overcome it. Her obesity renders her addiction clearly, humiliatingly, visible. When she walks down the street, she is the butt of shouts and taunts, open stares and loud whispers. She gets no sympathy for her addiction. When she talks about it with people she thinks she can trust – her parents, doctor, a close friend – they say the same things: “come to a zumba class with me”, “more salads, fewer cakes”, “it’s simple, just eat less and move more”.

Julia is consumed by shame. She knows that every time she walks down the street, she reveals her inadequacy to the rest of the world. She believes every person that passes her has noticed her obesity and is ridiculing her for it. She doesn’t recognise that she’s a fallible human with an addiction that she needs help and support to overcome. And so, to numb the social anxiety that she feels, she eats. And eats. And so the cycle continues.