What is addiction?
It is whereby an individual has lost (or never had) the ability to exert personal control over an addictive substance, process or behaviour regardless of the consequences they endure and subject others to. Addictive substances, processes and behaviours all hold commonalities in that they alter the way the individual feels by stimulating psychobiological mood altering chemicals, such as dopamine and endorphin levels, that influences the mood reward systems of the brain. Addictive substances are mood altering chemicals that include: alcohol, illicit, recreational and pharmaceutical or legal drugs, caffeine, nicotine and sugar ought not be over looked when dealing with legal drugs. Though the addictive qualities and consequences can differ to illicit drugs like heroin and cannabis; equally these differences can be found in pharmaceutical drugs too like valium (diazepam) one of which being social acceptability.
Addictive process and behaviours can be viewed as: work addiction, sex and love addiction, food addictions, compulsive helping, co-dependency, gambling, risk taking, internet addiction and so on. These (often complex) addictions are not to be underestimated and are as equally destructive as any other addiction on a physical, mental and spiritual level. Though we are still in our infancy in understanding addiction, in my view addiction is a pre-generic disposition; whereby the individual is born an "addict" and that addictive substances, processes and behaviours are but only addictive outlets, symptoms of the addictive disease.
Research undertaken by Project Match and many addiction treatment centres suggest that evidence mostly points towards that addiction is caused by a default within the neurotransmitters (mood sensors) of the brain which can not be undone. However, addiction can be arrested by undertaking complete abstinence from the destructive addiction. One proven method is the 12 step fellowships such as Alcoholic Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. I also believe that not everyone suffers with the addictive (neurotransmission) disease and that many result to mood altering substances, process and behaviours due to difficulties in life, such as: abuse, bereavement, loss, illness, sudden life changes, financial issues, trauma and so on. In addition to this it's not uncommon that individuals are influenced by there environment, belief systems and learnt behaviours. These underlying issues, once resolved, can (but not always) release the shackles of the addiction and many go on to lead happy and successful lives as those choosing the abstinence route.
If you think that you have an addiction or you know someone that may have addiction, a counsellor may be able to help overcome the underlying issues.
Related articles from our experts
- Changing anxious habits
Greg Savva - Counselling Twickenham, Whitton - Masters Degree8th July, 2018
- A new way to treat addictions and compulsions
Imi Lo: Specialist Psychotherapist, Art Therapist (MMH,FRSA,UKCP,HCPC)6th July, 2018
- Living with the legacy: the impact of growing up with parental addiction
Cinzia Altobelli (MSc RGN UKCP reg Psychotherapist/Counsellor & Supervisor)5th July, 2018
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.