HELP MOTIVATION – SUPPORT CHANGE
If you have an addiction, you’re not alone. According to the charity Action on Addiction, 1 in 3 people are addicted to something.
Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you.
- Work – some people are obsessed with their work to the extent that they become physically exhausted; if your relationship, family and social life are affected and you never take holidays, you may be addicted to work.
- Internet – as computer and mobile phone use has increased, so too have computer and internet addictions; people may spend hours each day and night surfing the internet or gaming while neglecting other aspects of their lives.
- Solvents – volatile substance abuse is when you inhale substances such as glue, aerosols, petrol or lighter fuel to give you a feeling of intoxication.
- Shopping – shopping becomes an addiction when you buy things you don’t need or want to achieve a buzz; this is quickly followed by feelings of guilt, shame or despair.
What causes addictions?
There are lots of reasons why addictions begin. In the case of drugs, alcohol and nicotine, these substances affect the way you feel, both physically and mentally. These feelings can be enjoyable and create a powerful urge to use the substances again.
Gambling may result in a similar mental “high” after a win, followed by a strong urge to try again and recreate that feeling. This can develop into a habit that becomes very hard to stop.
Being addicted to something means that not having it causes withdrawal symptoms, or a “come down”. Because this can be unpleasant, it’s easier to carry on having or doing what you crave, and so the cycle continues.
Often, an addiction gets out of control because you need more and more to satisfy a craving and achieve the “high”.
How addictions can affect you
The strain of managing an addiction can seriously damage your work life and relationships. In the case of substance misuse (for example, drugs and alcohol), an addiction can have serious psychological and physical effects.
Some studies suggest addiction is genetic, but environmental factors, such as being around other people with addictions, are also thought to increase the risk.
An addiction can be a way of blocking out difficult issues. Unemployment and poverty can trigger addiction, along with stress and emotional or professional pressure.
Addiction is a treatable condition. Whatever the addiction, there are lots of ways you can seek help. You could see A THERAPIST for advice.
With the right help and support, it’s possible for you to get drug free and stay that way.
Talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), help you to see how your thoughts and feelings affect your behaviour.
Treatment with medicines
If you’re dependent on heroin or another opioid drug, you may be offered a substitute drug, such as methadone.
Where to find alcohol support
Realising you have a problem with alcohol is the first big step to getting help.
You may need help if:
- You often feel the need to have a drink.
- You get into trouble because of your drinking.
- Other people warn you about how much you’re drinking.
- You think your drinking is causing you problems.
Try to be accurate and honest about how much you drink and any problems it may be causing you.
If you have become dependent on alcohol, you will have found it difficult to fully control your drinking in some way.
So you’ll probably need some help either to cut down and control your drinking or stop completely, and also some plans to maintain the improvement after that.
The sorts of withdrawal symptoms that suggest you may need medication include:
- anxiety after waking
- sweating and tremors
- nausea or retching in the morning
- seizures or fits
Staying healthy and in control
Cutting down or stopping drinking is usually just the beginning, and most people will need some degree of help or a long-term plan to stay in control or completely alcohol-free.
Getting the right support can be crucial to maintaining control in the future. Only relying on family, friends or carers for this often is not enough.
Some people are assessed as needing intensive rehabilitation and recovery support for a period after they stop drinking completely, either through attending a programme of intensive support in their local community or by attending a residential rehabilitation service.
This type of intensive treatment is usually reserved for people with medium or high levels of alcohol dependence, and particularly those who have received other forms of help previously that have not been successful.