Addiction Explained | How To Treat Addiction
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Addiction Explained

WHAT IS ADDICTION?

An mental illness and believed by many as a disease that affects not just the individual but all those around them. There is no cure for addiction but it can be treated.

ARE YOU OR A LOVED ONE ARE STRUGGLING WITH ADDICTION – YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Everyone has their own understanding and experience of addiction and the tragedy this causes.

Within this site is our interpretation based on our experience to give a general basic understanding. For more detailed understanding based on your individual / family circumstances we suggest you book an initial online consultation.

Regardless of what your interpretation is, what the substance or process is
The main two categories of addiction are as follows:

  1. Substance: Eg: Alcohol, Narcotics, Prescription Drugs

  2. Process: Eg: Gambling, Sex, Gaming, Adrenaline

Despite contrary belief, the substance or process is not the addiction but merely a symptom of the addiction or coping strategy for underlying issues.

Addiction has two components, the first of which is a physical addiction. Drugs effect parts of the brain, namely neurotransmitters and hormones produced by the brain. These include dopamine, serotonin, and others. These compounds are the brain’s “happiness centre.” When drugs artificially stimulate their release, the brain sends signals to give the feeling of happiness and the trademark “high” most drug users seek.

Eventually, the brain begins to stop producing these chemicals on its own, and the drug is needed in order for the user to feel normal. Tolerance begins to develop, and more and more of the drug is require to illicit the same effect. This is also why when the drug is not taken, users will experience withdrawal symptoms as the body physically craves the drug and its effects.

Addiction to alcohol or drugs is a chronic disease in which an individual indulges in compulsive addictive behaviours despite being aware of their harmful consequences. Over time, excessive alcohol intake or illicit substance use leads to long-lasting changes in the brain and body, further driving the addiction

For example an middle aged alcoholic checks themselves into a detox facility and rehab for 28 days. They has a history of the following character traits anger, aggression, self-hate, selfish, dishonest, manipulative, close minded and resistant. During their 28 day stay they detox, but do follow direction and advice from the addiction professionals or immerse themselves with the programme or other peers.

SO WHAT IS THE RESULT AFTER 28 DAYS TREATMENT IN PRIMARY REHAB?

In instances like the individual mentioned above who has taken minimal action to make any significant changes they and sadly their friends, family and loved ones are left with an individual who has an unresolved history of the following anger, aggression, self-hate, selfish, dishonest, manipulative, close minded and resistant who hasn’t drank for 28 days.

In this example relapse is inevitable.

So behaviours, actions or traits are more prevalent during active addiction however most are still present so unless the underlying issues are addressed along with behavioural changes the individual will not change and eventually relapse. For us recovery is not just simply removing the substance but about changing the person as a whole. This not only reduces the risk of relapse but offers opportunity for improvement to the individuals life and those around them.

IS ADDICTION REALLY A DISEASE AND CAN IT BE CURED?

We believe 100% that addiction is a disease. Why do we believe in the disease model of addiction?

Lets first look at the definition of addiction taken from ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine

Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviours.

Addiction is characterised by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioural control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviours and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.
Source: https://www.asam.org/resources/definition-of-addiction

HOW DOES ADDICTION AFFECTS THE BRAIN?

Any addiction to substance or process affects the brain by altering a person’s memory, judgement, decision-making skills, perception of pleasure and changes the way neurons function in the brain

Addiction is often referred to as Reward Deficiency Syndrome and once in active addiction the substance or behaviour is perceived by the addiction person as the sole source of pleasure so not only does their tolerance and usage increase but their determination to source ways and means to maintain their addiction often involves risky and behaviour outside their values: lying, stealing, manipulating to name a few.

They need to feed their addiction at all costs and becomes their primary purpose and need in life.

WHAT CAUSES ADDICTION?

The exact cause of addiction is still relatively unknown. However, evidence has been found to support claims that genetic and biophysical factors, as well as any presence of mental illness, may have something to do with why others can become addicted to a substance while others do not.

Another theory for why addiction is more prevalent in certain people is that certain groups use drugs for self-medication due to conditions like depression or anxiety. Others may use drugs to cope with physical pain.

Although some people may be more likely to suffer with addiction. Anyone can develop an addiction if they abuse any addictive substance or behaviour.

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON ADDICTIONS?

Alcohol, Street Drugs, Prescription Drugs, Sugar, Caffeine, Cigarettes, Food, Sex Gambling, Mobile Phone, Social media, Gaming, Work

HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM ADDICTED TO DRUGS, ALCOHOL, GAMBLING OR OTHER PROCESS ADDICTION?

You might be addicted to drugs or alcohol if any of the following are true:

  • You use the substance or engage in the behaviour every day or regular binge patterns
  • You feel anxious, depressed, or angry without it
  • You need more of the substance / behaviour to feel the same effects
  • The substance / behaviour has negatively impacted your relationships and other aspects of life

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TELL TALE SIGNS THAT YOUR LOVED ONE IS AN ADDICT?

Although in some cases it may be hard to tell whether your loved one is actually an addict, especially if he or she suffers from a condition with symptoms that mimic addiction, it is always good to be on guard. If your loved one is suffering from substance abuse, he may exhibit some or all of the following symptoms or behaviours:

These symptoms can also be signs of a mental disorder or physical illness. Either way, they should be checked by an appropriate medical professional to rule out other possibilities, or a drug test can be performed to confirm that drugs are being used. If the person is using a prescription drug, he or she may also switch doctors frequently and request being seen by a doctor he has never seen before.

Getting treatment for any addiction is not always easy. Users often do not know they have a problem until they are deeply entrenched in their addiction or for many addictions. Often times, friends and family are the first to notice how far things have gotten.

For more information on help and support for anyone with a friend, family of loved one suffering with addiction please visit our Friends, Family and Loved ones page

HOW EASY IS IT TO RECOGNISE ADDICTION?

While it may be easy in some cases to recognise an addict with an obvious drug problem for example, addiction is progressive and people are often skilled at concealing their addiction. Addiction knows no gender, race, or socioeconomic status. Usually, it is not possible to tell if someone is an addict just by looking at him or her.

If you are wondering if you have an addiction yourself or are concerned about a friend or relative please contact us for help and support by clicking here

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