It could be argued we all have vices – but for some it can develop into an addiction over time.
Examples of addictions would be nicotine, alcohol (functioning or non functioning), gambling, illegal drugs, shopping, prescription drugs and food. The list is literally endless.
What starts with a glass of wine at night, can become two and then the whole bottle.
What starts as a getting a store card can result in excessive spending, leading to multiple credit cards, high levels of debt, and in the worst-case scenario, bankruptcy.
What is Addiction?
One definition of addiction is as follows:
“Addiction is the repeated involvement with a substance or activity, despite the substantial harm it now causes, because that involvement was (and may continue to be) pleasurable and/or valuable.”
If you ask the majority of addicts why they cannot stop with their addiction, they may say it is because they don’t want to live ‘normal’ lives – as it will make them remember trauma they have experienced. For example when asking a client why they could not give up their heroin addiction the answer was, ‘I don’t want to remember the abuse I suffered as a child and this is the only way I know to do it.’ This same client is now clean from heroin and volunteering in a shop living in their own flat. He picked the ‘harder’ option – by facing the demons that were acquired by no fault of his own.
Some people who have an addiction have no wish to stop even though they have the mental capacity to understand the risks associated with their addiction.
However there are others who wish to seek out help, so that they can start breaking the pattern of addiction.
“Life is less about never making a mistake or never walking down a wrong path; it’s about what you do when those things happen.”
It helps to understand the key principles of tackling addiction:
- Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behaviour.
- No single treatment is right for everyone.
- People need to have quick access to treatment.
- Effective treatment addresses all of the patient’s needs.
- Staying in treatment long enough is critical.
- Counselling and other behavioural therapies are the most commonly used forms of treatment.
- Medications are often an important part of treatment, especially when combined with behavioural therapies (if required).
- Treatment plans must be reviewed often, and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.
- Treatment should address other possible mental disorders.
- Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of treatment (if required).
- Treatment doesn’t need to be voluntary to be effective.
- Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously.
Counselling and talking therapies are imperative to help the individual work with the counsellor to create an individual care plan. This will be used to assist in the recovery process and work towards preventing relapse.
However, it is essential to know that you are coming into a non-judgemental environment where it is important we work honestly and truthfully together.
Author: Liz Taylor, BA (Hons).
Liz Taylor is a social worker with over ten years’ experience in helping people with personality disorders and other mental health issues. Liz’s counselling strategies are drawn from the Relapse Prevention Model, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). She is passionate about enabling her clients to function and feel a sense of control in their lives, and to achieve the goals and outcomes that they wish.