Partying or Addictive Behavior?

Post by Dr. Kern on December 4, 2012

There is a fine line between ‘partying’ and being ‘addicted’. No one ever starts out wanting to become addicted.

Addiction is always an accidental unintended by-product of having what appears to be a healthy expression of “Living and enjoying life to its fullest!”. Partying is often an expression of breaking the chains of social conventions, testing your limits as an adult who can hold their own and win out against the competition. A sign that you have achieved a level of wealth and leisure time, and a willingness to push the limits and disregard the rules.

When is all this fun not really an expression of joy but rather an expression of being controlled by a substance?

Drinking, drugging and partying are a very common part of contemporary American life. This behavior typically begins in mid to late teen years and escalates during college, and often continues well into adult years.

In the media “partying” is typically portrayed as a sign of freedom, affluence, sexuality and maturity. It is generally seen as harmless and often a well-deserved ‘right of passage’ for college students. Or glamorized as a “last fling” before marriage.

But where do we draw the line between “Just Having a Well Deserved Good Time” and “Really Having an Addiction?” This can be difficult to distinguish because they may look the same from the outside, but in reality these two behaviors are very different.

So the problem becomes when is all this fun not really an expression of joy but rather an expression of being controlled by a substance?

Ultimately, it becomes evident that you are the only one who thinks that your habitual addictive behavior is a secret. It’s not. Others have noticed the negative changes in your behavior and personality. Soon you start to isolate and hide your use, convincing yourself that nobody loves you, that you don’t fit in, and that your friends have abandoned you.

When an addiction has taken over, life has changed – and not for the better.

You know that it’s really time to seek help with your addictive behavior.


Marc F. Kern, Ph.D., aka "The Habit Doc" is a nationally syndicated addiction expert and harm reductionist. To learn more about Dr. Kern's philosophies and read more posts like this one, please visit 

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Marc Kern