What is addiction?

Addiction is roughly defined as an uncontrollable demand for something, one that becomes a dependency. This addiction can manifest as a psychological or physical one, leaving the sufferer having little to no control over their decisions so long as it fulfils their craving.

Signs and Symptoms of addictions

Addiction is almost involuntary or uncontrollable in contrast to a habit that can be managed and decided upon. When considering the signs and symptoms of addiction, it’s important to know that it can manifest both physically and mentally.

– Physical

  • The sufferer may appear pale and clammy, sweating.
  • Irregular heartbeat (Palpitations)
  • Feelings of Nausea, Vomiting among other feverish conditions due to withdrawal effect.

– Psychological

  • Anxiety bordering on Panic Disorder
  • A distinct lack of reasoning when it comes to risks to themselves and others
  • Disturbed sleep cycle often leading to insomnia in some cases
  • Feelings of Irritability or paranoia
  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviour
  • Extreme feelings of Guilt, Shame and Possibly Depression

A deterioration of work, social and family relationships may also be indicators of a broader problem with Addiction.

Why do people develop Addictions?

Every single one of us is guilty of having an outlet for stress and external pressures. The intensity of our days forces us to find some way to express ourselves. In many instances, outlets can become habits as we rely on them more and more. From habits, a dependency can emerge, resulting in a complete addiction to whatever outlet it might be.

Our own evolutionary system of ‘reward and encouragement’ that secretes feel-good hormones, such as Dopamine, making us feel good by doing a particular activity. Substances and activities can emulate this feeling, and through classic conditioning, it can result in an addiction.

It’s highly unlikely that anyone actively chooses to have an addiction; exploring the origins of how it first manifested is crucial in combatting it long-term. Those who have suffered from some degree of physical or mental stress have been known to rely on substances such as alcohol and drugs to counteract negative feelings they may have towards themselves.

An addictive personality may also be attributable to genetics; those with parents or relatives that also suffer from addiction may also find themselves susceptible to developing Addictions.

While there is profit to be made on fulfilling the addictions and habits of people, Addiction will persist in some. But knowing that help and guidance are available to help navigate through a problematic condition is one of the steps we strive to demonstrate.

Online Psychological Therapies we Offer:

What are the common forms of Addiction?

Experts argue that under the right conditions, any aspect of our lives can be made addictive. But some of the most highly addictive substances are the branches of opiates such as Heroin, Codeine and Morphine. This is due to the significant effect they have on the brain: specifically, the secretion of endorphins that entice users to have more.

While these are illegal substances, more socially acceptable substances remain some of the most addictive as well. Addictions to alcohol and tobacco remain some of the largest problems within society, with many suffering and facing severe medical conditions as a result.

The ability of alcohol and tobacco to imitate certain neurotransmitters and hormones acts to reinforce them as habits. Some, instead of directly mimicking neurotransmitters, increase the level of naturally occurring ones. Substances such as MDMA, Crystal Meth, Cocaine and Bath Salts are the kinds, which can delay or block the absorbing of dopamine and norepinephrine.

Behaviours can also have a significant impact on the brains chemistry; activities such as sex and gambling are such examples. Gambling carries the highs not just of winning, but of near misses in betting which encourages more bets.

Our genetics and environment can have a great deal of influence on our susceptibility to addiction among other aspects (experiences, location, socio-economic status, and social circle). Some may find themselves addicted to a specific thing while others are entirely resistant to any kind of Addiction.

Addiction Carries a Stigma

Stigmas are almost always attached to those suffering from an Addiction. The stereotypes that addicts have a lack of willpower, self-respect, etc. This belief is truly detrimental to the recovery process that many people may have to endure.

Addiction is a highly complex term, which encompasses a great many substances and behaviours. And is impossible to label in such a negative way.

What if I don’t receive treatment for my addiction?

Addiction, over time, causes anything that we may use to gain us a high to balance and level out until it has no real effect at all. What this does is worsen the pattern of behaviour and increase the severity of underlying conditions such as Depression, Anxiety and Low Self-Esteem.

As a sufferer of addiction becomes more tolerant of a substance, they’ll seek it out in higher quantities, having damaging effects on the sufferer’s physical and mental well-being over time. With any potent drug, tolerance can lead to an increase in stronger drugs, leading to often-fatal consequences.

If left untreated, the sufferer will find themselves suffering more and more from deeper levels of depression, anxiety, social isolation, placing their social and family relationships along with their employment at risk.

If I receive treatment – What is the outcome?

One of the serious challenges sufferers face in battling against Addiction is the withdrawal symptom that they may suffer. The effect of stopping a substance places stress on the brain as its usual neurotransmitter activity is affected by not having the same stimuli.

These conditions fluctuate depending on the person, but symptoms such as flu-like conditions, general irritability or hostility, muscular weakness and can exacerbate feelings of anxiety, panic attacks, depression and self-esteem.

Having the support of a therapist can allow you to have a concise plan of managing difficult periods of fighting against addiction. Knowing that the symptoms of withdrawals are only temporary is a critical factor; after a while, the brain will get used to the neurotransmitter activity.

In receiving treatment and overcoming addiction, the positive benefits are overwhelming; general improvements in mental and physical health are just two among them. For others, defeating addiction may save their life.

Recommendations methods against addiction

Obtaining counselling or therapy to provide psychological treatment has always been the most effective method of treating Addiction. While medication has proven effective for some, this depends on the individual as these may merely replace, as oppose to help counteract addiction.

Coordination with a social and family support network is highly effective in conjunction with psychiatric help. It’s always encouraged that any treatment takes the shape of a holistic method of support; allowing it to be malleable around the individual and their needs.

Treating Addiction – Our Method

We offer a wide variety of treatments depending on the individual needs of the patient. A mixture of Psychotherapy and counselling can help understand the underlying psychological conditions, which may have caused the addictive behaviour. The patient can then have support and help in redressing the psychological origins of their addiction in a safe environment.

Substances such as Alcohol and Gambling are examples of ways in which sufferers can also take advantage of more specific support in a group environment.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has also had profoundly positive effects on sufferers of Addiction. Allowing for a re-framing of perspective and management techniques to provide support against addictive behaviours.

Ending Addiction – Extra resources

The path to overcoming addiction is by no means an easy one. It’s a difficult path to take but offers it all of the health and happiness anyone could desire. Reclaiming your life from addiction will allow you to reconnect with friends and loved ones, and have time and money taken back from addiction.

Acknowledging that you have an addiction is the bravest step to take. Knowing that support and guidance is out there is another step in the right direction.

Useful websites include –

  • The NHS Help Page on Addiction
  • The MIND Page also provides useful information

Useful numbers also include –

  • NHS Direct- 0845 4647
  • Turning point- 020 7481 7600

We offer an expert level of help and support with our team of counsellors, therapists, psychiatrist and Cognitive Behavioural Therapists. Knowing as well that local charities such as MIND, Rethink and The Mental Health Foundation are also available to you for support.

For more information call 0753 718 1090 or email [email protected]. To book a Virtual Therapy appointment with the Online Therapy Company, please fill in the online booking form.

Author – Dr Aisha Ali – DPsych Couns Psych, ADOS 2 Certified B.Psych (Hons)

Dr Aisha Ali is a highly experienced BPS Chartered Counselling Psychologist and Expert witness with over 15 years experience of working within the NHS in complex care and private practice. She has extensive experience of working with individuals, couples and families presenting with complex psychological and emotional issues. Aisha provides life and performance coaching.

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