Addiction is a common problem, but help is available

Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you.

Addiction is mostly associated with gambling, drugs, alcohol and smoking; however, it is possible to be addicted to just about anything, including:

·         work – some people are obsessed with their work to the extent that they become physically exhausted; if your relationship, family and social life are compromised and you never take holidays, you may be addicted to work

·         internet – as computer and mobile phone use has increased, so too have computer and internet addictions; people may spend hours each day and night surfing the internet or gaming while neglecting other aspects of their lives

·         solvents – volatile substance abuse is when you inhale substances such as glue, aerosols, petrol or lighter fuel to give you a feeling of intoxication

·         shopping – shopping becomes an addiction when you buy things you don’t need or want to achieve a buzz; this is quickly followed by feelings of guilt, shame or despair

 

What causes addictions?

There are lots of reasons why addictions begin. In the case of drugs, alcohol and nicotine, these substances affect the way you feel, both physically and mentally. These feelings can be enjoyable and create a powerful urge to use the substances again.

Gambling may result in a similar mental “high” after a win, followed by a strong urge to try again and recreate that feeling. This can develop into a habit that becomes very hard to stop.

Being addicted to something means that not having it causes withdrawal symptoms, or a “come down”. Because this can be unpleasant, it’s easier to carry on having or doing what you crave, and so the cycle continues.

Often, an addiction gets out of control because you need more and more to satisfy a craving and achieve the “high”.

Addictions can be created in the form of escapism from a trauma or underlying emotional distress.

How addictions can affect you

The strain of managing an addiction can seriously damage your work life and relationships. In the case of substance misuse (for example, drugs and alcohol), an addiction can have serious psychological and physical effects.

Some studies suggest a person’s risk of becoming addicted is partly genetic, but environmental factors, such as being around other people with addictions, are also thought to increase the risk.

Behaviours such as substance misuse can be a way of blocking out difficult issues. Unemployment and poverty can trigger addiction, along with stress and emotional or professional pressure.

Getting help for addictions

Addiction is a treatable condition. I work with clients with a range of addictions. I help them overcome these and examine the deeper cause of their problematic behaviour. Using CBT, I help clients develop new coping strategies, reframe their triggering thoughts and manage behaviours. CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.

CBT aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts.

You’re shown how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel when we work together.

If you have an addiction you are looking to overcome then please do get in touch.

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