Your Guide to Addiction

The word addiction tends to be thrown around a lot, either in jest or light-heartedly. Lately, however, it’s coming to light that actual addiction is way closer to home than you may think. With everything and anything right at our fingertips, it’s clear to see how you can find it difficult to stop when you have never wanted for anything.

You may only ever think of the rough-sleeping, Class A drug user begging for change, but let’s consider for a second the ‘functioning alcoholic’ working in the cubicle next to you, or the young man addicted to computer games or pornography. This is because society tends to hint that you should brush these things under the rug and hope they figure themselves out. 

When this happens, it’s just asking for escalation and will go further unnoticed. This is why, with any kind of addiction or potential addiction, you must start speaking out. Even if you think it may be ‘minor’, make yourself aware of it and make others aware of your actions.

Some of the most common addictions in counselling include drinking, gambling, recreational drug, pornography, computer games, shopping, internet dating, prescription drugs, smoking, sugar, work, food, sex, exercise, mobile phones, social media and many more! You can see that anything can become an addiction if ignored.

What contributes to addiction

Many of you might think, ‘How can anyone become addicted to social media, or exercise?’  Many do these activities on a daily basis but are not addicted. For others, you may not be addicted to alcohol but instead work, or do a lot of internet dating. Addiction is the feeling of not being able to stop from fear that you will miss out, fail, or even hurt yourself or others if you stop. So, what does this mean and why does it happen?

Have you heard of peer pressure?

Society and the social circles play a crucial part in the relationship to actions, things or substances. 

If you take alcohol as an example, there is a prevalent drinking culture in our society. The media endorses alcohol consumption as fun and a way to blow off steam (similarly in the way smoking was seen as ‘cool and relaxing’ in the 1950’s). Drinking has now become a part of the way you establish relationships, make connections and validates you in social groups.

It’s never Game Over

Once your addictive activities become normalised within your life, they start becoming a part of the way you relate to yourself and how others relate to you. 

For instance, if you’re told you are the best gamer your friends have ever seen, you aren’t going to want to put the controller down. Gaming becomes something that you have to do – not just want to do. You then have to get better, otherwise you feel like you will lose your identity and validation from your friends.  

Friends will endorse that image as part of your character (a lot of the time unintentionally). You gain pleasure then not only from the action but also from the relationships and others’ perception in relation to the addiction.

Do you crave that rush of excitement?

It is not just about the relationship to these actions or substances, but the psychological and physical effect of these actions.

If you consider gambling this time, the gambler gets hooked not on winning, but more the rush of betting. It is the action and effect of making the bet rather than the monetary gain of gambling. Consider how excited you feel watching that roulette wheel spin or holding your lottery ticket when the first number hasn’t even been called yet. A gambling addict craves that rush and will not be able to find it anywhere else. 

This is why an addict can never ‘win’ enough. It is the action, effect and reward from the addiction. 

Pacifying stress and anxiety

This is where counselling becomes its most affective. When you become a person craving that rush from a specific action or substance, you start to feel stressed, anxious, or in extreme cases, bouts of depression when you aren’t fuelling your addiction.

Sometimes, an addiction even grows from a desire to numb or distance yourself from negative thoughts, feelings, people or places. This then doesn’t help when, again, society encourages Keep Calm and Carry On. So, you can see how an addiction can spiral, and likely not wholly from fault of your own.

The problem we have with using addictions to deal with these underlining issues, is that they are only offering a short term relief and with long term consequences.

It is never too early or too late to confront an addiction, and there are many forms of counselling that can cater to every single unique individual. Counselling needs to offer a space for any addict to feel like they are making progress right from the beginning. This is why Therapy in London offer a free telephone consultation to tailor your therapy sessions to you.

Contact us for a callback or for your free consultation, and we look forward to starting this journey with you.

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