Recovering from addiction
Alcohol. Drugs. Food. Gambling. Nicotine. Sex. What do these six things have in common? They are all prevalent addictions. Addictions cause us to repeat behaviours that are harmful to us. We crave the object of our addiction and cannot control the impulse to partake in it.
Addiction is a devastating illness. Most addictions have negative physical effects, such as temporary or permanent impairment and exposure to life-threatening diseases. The emotional impact can be even greater. Addiction damages our ability to make good decisions, straining relationships and affecting job performance. We can be imprisoned by our addictions, our entire lives consumed by them.
Addiction has been widely studied and written about. We know that our addictions can be caused by unresolved needs, based in genetics and triggered by stress or traumatic events, and can lead to physical changes in our brains, which essentially worsens the addiction over time. However, this knowledge alone cannot stop us from engaging in the sometimes destructive behaviour that can be associated with them.
Coming to terms with addiction is difficult. Some of us may need to reach rock bottom before finally seeking to treat an addiction, and some of us will recognise that an addiction is starting to take priority in our lives, and act early to end the downward spiral.
There are many ways that addictions can be overcome. Some may warrant an intense rehabilitation program, where we can detoxify our systems and get support to enable recovery. In the long term, a counsellor can help us to examine the negative behaviour at the heart of an addiction. We can also learn to adopt positive ways of thinking about and dealing with the emotional and physical needs of addictive behaviour, helping us to recover and repair the damage it has caused.
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