When it comes to common social behaviour like drinking or smoking, it might be difficult to determine if there is an addiction problem. What looks like addiction could be an experimental phase or a form of stress management. But a real addiction, if left untreated, can develop into a debilitating habit or increased risk of illness.
General signs of addiction are:
• lack of control, or inability to stay away from a substance or behavior
• decreased socialization, like abandoning commitments or ignoring relationships
• ignoring risk factors, like sharing needles despite potential consequences
• physical effects, like withdrawal symptoms or needing higher dosage for effect
These signs are commonly linked. The degree of intensity for each sign may depend on how long the addiction has been going on.
A healthy person can usually identify a negative behaviour and get rid of it. This is not the case with someone with an addiction. Rather than admit the problem exists, they’ll find ways to justify and continue the behaviour. Behavioural addictions are as serious as substance addictions. Both types result in dependency and have the same or similar negative consequences.
Behavioural addiction can include:
• video games
• using the Internet or media
No matter the type of addiction, it’s important to recognize warning signs and seek help if necessary.
There are a variety of outside resources available to those recovering from addiction that are beneficial when combined with having counselling. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous can add another level of outside support.
I trained at CRI, now Pavilions, in Brighton, in addiction counselling and also worked as a Clinical Supervisor there.
Counselling is often crucial in helping people with addictions to adopt and develop more functional ways of self-soothing and getting their needs met in relationships. Essential to this is the ability to rationalise and hold on to the thinking mind, key to this is developing a strong relationship through the counselling process in order to have the support to make big decisions and life changes.