An Addiction is a persistent need to consume a substance or engage in a desired unhealthy behaviour / activity. Addiction occurs when seeking out this particular behaviour develops into an uncontrollable compulsive desire, causing an inability to stop despite its negative, harmful consequences on your emotional and psychological wellbeing. Addiction can have a serious impact on your daily life and functioning, which for many can worsen over time. This is why it is so important to seek help if you are experiencing this or know someone who is. Many addicts live in denial about their issue, for some individuals it’s easier to deny their struggles rather than accept it exist. However some can be unaware that their habit has developed into an addiction.
Types of Addiction
There are a number of activities hat can lead to an addiction, including alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, pornography or internet use.
Habit vs Addiction
When an individual engages in a specific behaviour, their brain may respond to the stimulus represented by judging it to be “rewarding.” The Brians reward system will create the impulse/urge to repeat the specific behaviour, because it’s either intrinsically pleasurable or extrinsically rewarding. The more an individual engages in the rewarding behaviour they become conditioned and want to continue in order achieve and sustain positive feelings created by dopamine from the reward system. Dopamine aka “Feel good neurotransmitter” is what the reward system operates on.
Signs of an Addiction
Signs and symptoms indicating an addiction can include any of the following;
- Inability to stop addictive behaviour despite it’s negative impact on your lifestyle and wellbeing.
- Uncontrollably behavioural to seek out addictive substance or activity.
- Engaging in habit forming behaviour which is dangerous.
- Developing a sense of secrecy surrounding the addictive behaviour.
- A lack of interest in hobbies or activities that used to be important.
Stages of addiction
According to UK rehab, most addicts do not set out to become physically and psychologically dependent on their addiction, there are stages they go through, which increase the likelihood of this developing into a issue;
Experimentation – A habit generally stars with the curiosity of a particular substance or activity can stem out of interest. This will trigger an interest in wanting to give it a try to see if they find it enjoyable or not.
Desire – When the curiosity turns into something which is enjoyable, it is likely to be tried again. The individual may / mayn’t actively seek out this behaviour.
Want – When the desire becomes recurrent the individual wants to continue in satisfying their desire. This stage the individual will actively seek out ways to ensure they get what they want.
Habit – Once the person begins to want something more frequently, the engagement becomes more frequently and automatic, at this stage a habit has been formed which includes engaging in a particularly activity without actually having much thought. Studies say it takes around 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic.
Need – The person is now at a stage whereby the activity is needed and the individual feels like they cannot do without the activity.
Addiction – Once control has been giving to the substance or activity, the individual cannot quit and has no control over their actions, even if they wanted to.
How can Therapy help
Therapy can help you speak with a trusted and trained professional who would have previously worked with clients who have also suffered addiction. Your therapist will provide a non-judgemental, safe environment helping you to identify triggers and causes of your addiction. Working with your therapist, they can help you develop self awareness and a portion of self understanding about your addictive behaviours. During your recovery journey your therapist will provide helpful strategies and management techniques for triggers and withdrawal symptoms you maybe experiencing or having difficulties with.