Addiction(s)» Find a counsellor or psychotherapist dealing with Addiction(s)
Addictions can allow people a temporary escape from their problems, and can develop from many activities; alcohol, drugs, eating, gambling, shopping, sex and use of the internet.
Stigma surrounds the word 'addiction' which is an inability to stop repetitive behaviour in spite of the harmful consequences.
An estimated 2 million people in the UK are believed to suffer from an addiction of some sort. For many their craving or impulse offers a short-term escape from the realities of their life and is often used to deal with depression or anxiety. For most, the long term consequences bring extra guilt and shame which eventually create an increasingly destructive cycle, drawing in family and friends.
Addictions are often associated with activities that initially bring pleasure and release from everyday life and pressures. Chemicals produced in the brain which encourage us to partake in activities and enjoy the 'highs' and 'satisfactions' are usually stimulated by these activities. The human brain uses dopamine, (produced when we fall in love and similar to cocaine) to motivate; and endorphins (what we feel after vigorous exercise and similar to heroin) to reward behaviour.
When life is empty and these chemicals are not naturally present; when we are low or depressed, the tendency to addiction can increase. Stimulation and reward are often ingredients of addiction: drugs, eating, gambling, shopping and sex all produce highs which need to be repeated. The following lows increase the feelings of hopelessness.
A skilled therapist or counsellor can help an addict to start to understand their emotional needs and face the realities of life with more hope of addressing the underlying problems attached to their addiction.
Cause of addiction
There are many theories to try to explain addictions; genetic, cultural and social influences merge with chemical and emotional factors. Environmental influences and personal experiences can also contribute.
For many people the need to escape from their present reality and engage in some form of delusional activity gives them a quick high or false sense of freedom, which in turn traps them into a destructive pattern of behaviour which can become chaotic.
Often an addiction masks a recurring depression or anxiety which the person feels unable to face.
Treatment for addiction
Most addictions have specialist agencies or helplines dedicated to dealing with the specific issues. It is helpful to read around the subject and become informed in order to acknowledge an addiction is present. Acknowledgement can be a long and arduous process, often involving family and friends. Treatment can be highly effective with proper support.
Counselling can be an effective form of treatment, and may help sufferers to recognise their illness and try to understand it. A chance to look at acknowledging real emotional needs and examining the underlying causes can be an excellent foundation to building a new, healthier way of living. Individual counselling may also offer the chance to build self-esteem and self-respect.
Content written/edited by Denise Pickup BACP (Accred) in 2008. All content displayed on Counselling Directory is provided for general information purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for advice given by your GP or any other healthcare professional.
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