Addiction is a problem that is often misunderstood. Unfortunately, most of the misunderstandings can often lead to more pain. Society stereotypes and stigmatises addicts as depraved and corrupt degenerates. The real truth is that there is no such thing as a typical addict. Addiction is a brain disease that can affect people from all walks of life.
Society needs to be challenged. Addiction is not morally preventative and the myth that the person is to blame needs to be smashed. Anyone from any walk of life can be an addict. Addiction does not discriminate. Addiction is a health issue that has seen a significant rise in Australia and New Zealand over the past decade.
“Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain. Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. Whatever the substance you are addicted to – alcohol, food, legal or illegal drugs, or a person – you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain.”
What is Addiction?
Addiction can be defined as a psychological and physical inability to willingly stop the consumption of a drug, chemical, activity, or a substance, even though its consumption is causing one physical and psychological harm. There are many factors that can contribute to addiction. What causes addiction is a complex question to answer. Some of these may be a combination of a genetic predisposition, physical, mental, and developmental issues or emotional trauma.
What this means is that contrary to popular opinion, the term addiction is not uniquely limited to dependence on alcohol or substance abuse such as cocaine, heroin or illegal drugs. There are many forms of addiction. Some of the most common forms are nicotine, cannabis, methamphetamine, over-eating, sex and porn. Behavioural addictions including gaming and gambling are also becoming more and more common.
Think of an addiction like a thief in the night. Before you realise it, addiction can unknowingly control your life and contribute to it becoming unmanageable. As addiction develops, this thief likes to remove your willingness to continue to do the things that you enjoyed. This is because addiction diminishes dopamine levels and decreases your inability to enjoy your usual natural triggers such as having sex or hobby making activities.
Addiction is a chronic illness/disease that could result from the intake of certain medications. Overuse of prescribed opioids, for example, is a growing concern according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (www.AIHW.gov.au). Deaths involving opioids have significantly increased in the last decade and hospital admissions for opioid harm are on the rise.
It’s worth noting that addiction is different from drug misuse, with misuse referring to incorrect or excessive use, even non-therapeutic usage of mind and body-altering substances. Not everyone who misuses substances will have an addiction because addiction is more of the long-term inability to either moderate or cease intake of a substance/activity in question. The fact is that drug misuse often leads to addiction.
There are varied addiction treatment protocols, but for most people and professionals, it is a step-by- step approach.
As you may have heard before, the first step is the hardest. The reason for this is that the first step involves the addict acknowledging their personal struggle with dependence on a specific substance. This step takes courage because when someone is in the cycle of addiction it is all too easy to minimise, deny or fool oneself into believing that there isn’t a problem. Acknowledging that you have a problem and asking for help is a huge milestone and needs to be congratulated. Admitting that you need help takes courage and may be the beginning of a new healthy way of living. Overcoming addictions is hard but you can do it if you have the willpower and right support in place.
If you are finding it impossible to abstain from your addiction, it would be advisable to enter into a detox rehabilitation or treatment program. I can help you find a suitable treatment program to best suit your needs.
Types of addiction treatment
- Inpatient and Outpatient rehab
- Sober living homes
- Drug/Alcohol detox programs
- Addiction Treatment Medications
- Addiction Therapies: There are specific therapies that are applied in the addiction treatment protocols. In treatment centres, therapies are selected based on an individual’s patterns and health requirements.
Twelve step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous are also highly recommended for support. There are many different types of twelve step programs to suit the various addiction in society.
Types of addiction:
Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Drug addiction is defined as a chronic disease that is characterised by either compulsive or uncontrollable drug-seeking as well as use; despite awareness of the harmful consequences, as well as the changes in the brain, most of which can be long lasting. Often, the harmful effects of the disease on the brain include destructive behaviours. Drug and alcohol addiction is a relapsing disease, meaning that it may return after you attempt to stop.
While some psychiatric and health professionals do not consider porn addiction an ‘actual’ addiction, albeit in the clinical sense, the symptoms/ signs of porn addiction are a lot like those seen in drug and alcohol addiction, which has led to significant research into it.
Research shows that porn addiction can be classified in the same lines as drug and alcohol addiction – a compulsive disorder. The reason for this is that this addiction is seen to cause a change in the brain’s activity, in the same way as the brains of habitual drug users.
This can be defined as a type of progressive addiction with physical, psychological, and social repercussions. Gambling addiction is also known as compulsive gambling, pathological gambling, or gambling disorder, and it is characterised as an impulse-control disorder. Gambling is associated with mood and behaviour disorders and people addicted to gambling may also have a co-morbid condition such as unmanaged ADHD, substance abuse issues, anxiety, depression, stress, or bipolar disorder. Therefore, overcoming gambling addiction lies in your ability to overcome any underlying causes of the addiction.
How can counselling help me overcome my addiction?
The decision to stop the addiction is not an easy one. I cannot do that for you. You must be willing to take the first step of admitting you are powerless. The second step is the willingness to get well. That is where I can help you.
As a counsellor, I strongly recommend twelve step programs that have proved invaluable in saving countless lives. It is my intention to support you through the counselling process to recognise and work through the underlying causes associated with addiction to get your life back on track.
Counselling can provide essential support in helping addicts overcome problems through talking. My non-judgemental, trustworthy, authentic approach will allow you to feel vulnerable in a safe space to talk through your ongoing problems. I genuinely wish to understand and empathise with your current situation without criticism. Together we can collaboratively address contributing problems and stressors that have been keeping you consumed by addiction.
Recovering from addiction is not easy and through recognising destructive patterns of behaviour, you can be empowered to prevent relapse. Developing a comprehensive relapse plan to put into action may also prevent relapse.
It is not uncommon for addicts to have suffered from trauma or mental illness such as anxiety or depression. After all, the substance has usually been the band aid to cover pain. Others may be living with more than one addiction, further complicating their lives. Through the counselling process, together we can identify, explore and work through past hurts and develop new healthy ways of functioning. Hopefully, through learning new strategies and with ongoing support, you will be able to find effective ways to be able to prevent relapse from occurring.