Understanding addiction

on July 31 | in Blog | by | with No Comments

Addiction Counselling: Getting Help

Difficult doesn’t quite cover admitting an addiction. No, difficult is a gross  understatement. Recognising that you’ve lost control of your life, knowing that a substance or ritual is more powerful than your will, and accepting you’ve done possibly horrible things in the name of a habit, all make you feel polluted inside. Going through the cycle of optimistic recovery and miserable failure becomes a testament to how hopeless your case is, and you begin to believe you’re better off left to the dogs.

Nope, difficult doesn’t quite cover it.

But while addictions are like quicksand that sucks you in before you can call for help, it’s important to remember that there’s always hope. If you’re reading this article because you recognise yourself as a person with addiction, or because you have a loved one in need of help, congratulations! Getting information on the nature of this often ignored disorder is the first step towards recovery.

First off, what is an addiction?

Regardless of the object of the addiction, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, pornography, shopping, or Facebook, there are common signs you can watch out for. These signs include:

  • Dependence. Dependence means you can’t control your habit, even when there’s evidence it’s not good for you. If you continue to use cocaine, for example, even after your boss threatened to fire you for coming to work high, you’re dependent. Note: it’s not unusual for dependence to come with denial, as a high percentage of addicts claim they can stop if they want to.
  • Withdrawal symptoms. When you’ve become dependent, you experience adverse reactions when you stop. These reactions can be physical, mental, and emotional. Withdrawal from opiates, for example, produces anxiety, muscle aches and abdominal cramping. Withdrawal from cigarettes, on the other hand, results in irritability, increased appetite, concentration problems and low mood. Nearly all withdrawals are accompanied by intense cravings.
  • Significant adverse effects in one’s work, relationships and self-care. Addiction is never a private disease. Fights with loved ones, fallings out with friends, loss of a job, and poor hygiene are examples of possible consequences of addiction. Sadly, these repercussions create a vicious cycle: the more addicts screw their lives, the more they feel the need to escape by engaging in habit.
  • Progressive consumption or indulgence.  Addiction is a progressive disease; that is, you can expect it to worsen over time. This is how addiction works: on your first try you experience a high, a sense of euphoria. On your next try, you feel still feel the high but not as strongly as before. This is what is called tolerance. What tolerance does is make you take more/indulge more to chase your original high. This process will go on and on until the habit becomes more powerful than you. Progressive consumption means addiction can be a deadly disorder. The proof can be seen in the number of celebrity deaths attributed to drug overdose in the past 50 years or more.

If you’ve received a diagnosis of addiction, what are your treatment options?

Note that there are different paths for chemical addiction and non-chemical addiction.

People addicted to stimulants, hallucinogens, alcohol, and other chemicals need to work first on their physical recovery, as counselling and therapy aren’t much use without it. When drugs in the system are still affecting sobriety, very little that is discussed in therapy will sink in. Detoxification is a pre-requisite: discontinuation of use and removal of the abused substance in the body.

For mild drugs (e.g. nicotine) and mild abuse, detoxification can happen at home. With stronger drugs, stronger abuse, and longer addiction, commitment to a rehabilitation centre is often necessary. Drug rehabilitations have medications and techniques that can better flush out toxins in the body.

Once physical recovery is completed, then emotional and mental recovery can progress. (People experiencing non-chemical addictions, like those addicted to social media or pornography, can go straight to this stage.)

Support groups are a good idea for those recovering from addiction, as disclosure to a group of sympathetic friends can help break denial. Also, just the knowledge that there are others who have similar struggles, with some actually on the road to recovery, is liberating. The 12 Steps Program (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous) is the most popular format of support groups.

Generally, for the most long-lasting, successful results, the help of professional addiction therapists is key.

Therapists can help you to explore factors within yourself and your environment that make you prone to addiction. Mores so, counsellors can help you break these factors’ link to your use and abuse. For example, persons who have difficulty feeling and expressing particular emotions have been found to be far more prone to addiction. Issues of control are also linked to addiction. If you live in a place near your supply, one with much privacy, you become vulnerable.  The same goes when you have a family history of addiction.

Interactions in the home have also been found to either cause or maintain addictions. Called co-dependency, this process implies patterns of relating that make a person more likely to abuse habits. Having an addiction therapist address co-dependency is critical, as studies have shown that recovered addicts have a higher tendency to relapse when they return to the presence of co-dependents.

Addiction can also help recovering addicts process their whole experience of addiction from use to recovery.  There are feelings that need to be ventilated. There are also insights that need to be explored.

Yes, addiction counselling or therapy is usually future-oriented. A recovering addict can be guided to look at how they can best pick up the pieces of their life and move forward. Apologising to people you’ve hurt, fixing what can be fixed, and managing guilt about the irreparable can all be processed in therapy. Guidance in going about looking for employment, hobbies and fulfilling interests can also be a therapeutic goal. Making concrete changes to prevent relapse, such as purposely staying away from friends who use and abuse, can also be subject for discussion.

If you wish to know more about addiction, addiction counseling, and addiction therapy, feel free to contact P-Therapy through [email protected] This initial consultation is completely free and you can speak to up to three therapists of you choice.

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When was the last time you felt calm and content in the here and now? If you are living in the past or worrying about the future, you can't be present. I can help. Once we base the relationship between you and I on honesty, openness, realness... you will start seeing positive changes.

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