Addiction stems from experiences that a person originally and generally finds pleasurable. This may be using a substance, such as alcohol, nicotine or another drug, but may also be an activity, such as sex, gambling or shopping. When the experience becomes compulsive or interrupts our ordinary day to day life responsibilities, relationships, work or home life, it would be considered an addiction. It is often the case that an individual is not initially aware that they are addicted, being in a state of denial or with the belief that they can stop their drug of choice at any time, which can then make the scenario even more confusing to them and those around them. The behaviour of a person with an addiction can also be very damaging for those around them, with mood swings, lying, stealing, violence and isolation being some of the possible repercussions of addiction.
The word addiction can be used in a variety of different ways. One definition of addiction describes physical addiction. This is a biological state in which the body adapts to the presence of a drug, whereby that drug no longer has the same effect on the user. This can also be known as a ‘tolerance’. The physical reaction of withdrawal which occurs when a drug is discontinued is related to the body’s previous tolerance of that drug. However, addictive behaviour is not always linked to a physical addiction. People can also use drugs, shop, gamble or use sex in reaction to times of emotional stress or linked to a testing life situation, whether or not they are suffering a physical addiction. Focussing on the addiction, in most cases, is not what matters. It is more relevant to look at triggers and how to make a different choice when faced with stress, low mood or other factors which would typically lead to that person using their drug of choice. It is important to recognise that the cause of addiction is not simply a search for pleasure and that addiction has nothing to do one’s strength or character.
People with addiction can move on and leave their old reliance behind, given the right support and opportunity to explore the impact of their addiction on their life and those around them. Treating addiction requires an understanding of how addiction works alongside a close look at the individual’s previous life experiences and future plans so a more positive approach to life’s challenges can be achieved. Counselling can be the ideal tool to free a person from the ties of addiction.
At Connect Counselling, we specialise in addiction issues. Please feel free to contact us for a consultation. We have practices in Highgate and East Finchley.