/ Aron Thode

Language for Discussing Addiction

Addiction can be a heavy topic, but I believe in taking ESL students to heavy places sometimes. On one level, people want to talk about things that matter and to practice doing so in their second language. On another level, most people are familiar with addiction in themselves or someone they know, in some form or another. This is especially true when you consider how broadly we apply the word. People can be addicted to TV shows, to cheese, to shopping, as well as to harmful substances like alcohol.

The above said, it pays to remember that some students could be sensitive around this topic.

Poker chips and cards on a poker table. Fingers are lifting up the corner of two cards.

If you use the image from the addiction question set to activate vocabulary, you could ask questions like these:

Here is some more language that is worth pre-teaching if you're going to use the Addiction Conversation Questions:

Addict (n) - a person who cannot stop doing or using something

Addiction (n) - an inability to stop doing or using something

Addicted (adj) - unable to stop doing or using something

You could elicit the other forms from the first one that you teach.

It’s a good idea to remind students that to is the preposition for connecting addicted to a substance or activity. Elicit to with an example sentence:

My mother is addicted ___ chocolate.

Habit (n) - something a person does regularly, often without thinking

I always tell students that in English a habit can be good or bad because that’s not always the case in other languages. An example of a good habit is washing your hands when you first get home.

Give up (something) (phr. v) / quit (something) (v) - to stop doing something

I gave up smoking.

I quit smoking.

Alcoholic (n) - a person that drinks alcohol often and in large amounts

Students may be aware of how we attach the suffix '-holic' to different words relatively easily to express the idea of addiction or loving something. Sometimes speakers make words that might not exist in dictionaries, like chocoholic or coffeeholic. You could ask them to try making their own ‘-holic words’.

Alcoholics Anonymous (n) - support groups for people that are struggling with addiction to alcohol and other harmful drugs, also known as AA

AA exists outside of North America, but it’s not nearly as well known. Students may be familiar with it via American media.