How I Turned My Addictive Personality Into My Healthiest Trait
I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and can recall seeing a large portion of my family members smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol regularly. These substances were responsible for the demise of countless loved ones—and eventually, they took a hold of my life as well.
When I realized that I needed to change.
In my early 20s, I battled an addiction to over-the-counter medication. Within a year I was able to kick that addiction, but it was quickly replaced by an addiction to nicotine. Despite the smoking-related deaths in my family, it was still very difficult for me to quit. Scientific consensus finds that while there is no such thing as an addiction "gene," hereditary factors can increase the likelihood of developing the same or similar addictions as other family members—be it to drugs, alcohol, and nicotine or gambling, food, and video games.
On September 19, at approximately 12:09 p.m., I was rushed to the hospital due to breathing complications. I thought I was having a severe asthma or anxiety attack, but it turned out I had pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinusitis. The doctor on staff asked if I was a smoker, and I told him that I was. He advised me to quit smoking immediately and said there was a great chance that my lungs would have collapsed had I waited any longer to get to the hospital. He informed me that my breathing complication was attributed more to my being a smoker than my having pneumonia. That was my last day as a smoker—but I quickly realized that I needed to find something else to attach myself to.
At the time I knew that while anyone can suffer from addiction, those who tend to behave impulsively, are unable to deal with stress, or are constantly searching for instant gratification are often said to have an addictive personality—traits that fit me to a tee. I then set out on the journey to apply these "addictive" traits to other things and make them some of my healthiest.
How I dealt with my addictive personality:
1. I stopped seeing it as a negative thing.
People often look at addiction as a negative attribute due to the stigma attached to it from drug and alcohol abuse. But having an addictive personality doesn't necessarily mean you're an addict; it simply suggests an increased probability that one may become addicted to something. Understanding that was my first step to changing my personal views about my addictive tendencies.
2. I forced myself to take new action.
From that point, my entire perspective changed. I was determined to reverse the damage that years of addiction had caused. I joined a gym and began training as if I was preparing for a marathon.
3. I relearned what it meant to be healthy.
I read and studied countless books, guides, and magazine articles about proper nutrition and the importance of veggies. I eliminated 80% of all milk-based products from my diet and I eventually evolved into an avid juicer.
4. I chose a new path.
So, what's my new addiction? To keep it simple, I'm addicted to helping other people create and implement healthier lifestyle practices. I'm now a certified personal trainer with my own private training company, and I'm in the process of completing my sports nutrition certification and 200-hour yoga RYT certification.
Having an addictive personality doesn't make you a weak person. In fact, it's one of the many imperfections that makes you perfect. I hope my story provides some hope that you, too, can take control of the wheel, choose a new destination, and enjoy the ride.