Addiction

Addiction

Drug and alcohol addiction typically starts off as recreational, whereby the individual drinks and/or uses in a social setting. Addiction is a progressive process, which means that as time passes, he or she will exhibit a higher tolerance, frequently engage in the behaviour and experience intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Not all addictions are rooted in abuse or trauma, but I do believe they can all be traced to painful experience. A hurt is at the centre of all addictive behaviours. It is present in the gambler, the Internet addict, the compulsive shopper and the workaholic. The wound may not be as deep and the ache not as excruciating, and it may even be entirely hidden—but it’s there. As we’ll see, the effects of early stress or adverse experiences directly shape both the psychology and the neurobiology of addiction in the brain.” 

Gabor Maté, Physician, Author

 

I was a recluse at 20. It was pathetic- it wasn’t me. I’m a fun, polite person and alcohol turned me into a rude bore. For a long time, people were saying to me. ‘We think you have a problem.’ But in the end, I had to come to the realization myself.

Daniel Radcliff, Actor

The use and abuse of alcohol and drugs are serious issues that should not be ignored or minimised. If left untreated, use and abuse can develop into drug dependence or alcoholism. As a result, it is important to recognise the signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug abuse early. If you’re worried about your own drug or alcohol use, or that of a friend or family member, here are some of the warning signs to look for:

  • Temporary blackouts or memory loss
  • Recurrent arguments or fights with family members or friends
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Mood swings

“The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”  Johann Hari, Author

Digital technology addiction

It is now well documented that addiction to various electronic devices is increasing. Consequently, we see similar symptoms and behaviours almost identical to alcoholism or addiction to gambling, food or drugs. For example, a raised heart rate and signs of panic, to not having or losing your phone.

In gaming addicts, there are functional and structural alterations in the neural reward system – a group of structures associated with feeling pleasure, learning, and motivation. Exposing video game addicts to game-related cues that cause cravings, and monitoring their brain responses, highlighted these changes – changes that are also seen in other addictive disorders.

Technology addiction is an umbrella term that may include addictive behaviour to cybersex and online porn; video gaming; gambling; eBay and other online auctions or shopping; social media; excessive texting; or smartphone overuse as well as information overload.

  • Do you or a loved one…
    1. Feel preoccupied with the Internet (meaning thinking about previous online activity or anticipating the next online session)?
    2. Feel the need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction?
    3. Feel restless, moody, depressed or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use?
    4. Stay online longer than originally intended?
    5. Use technology as a way of escaping problems or relieving feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression?
    6. Feel the need to respond immediately to your smartphone?
    7. Constantly check the phone even when it does not ring or vibrate? (Phantom vibration, or thinking the phone vibrates when it hasn’t, is a real phenomenon.)
    8. Ignore what’s happening in real time in favour of what’s happening in the virtual world?
    9. Feel anxious when away from the device or computer?

    Have you or a loved one…

    1. Made multiple unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop Internet use?
    2. Jeopardized or risked the loss of a significant relationship, job or educational or career opportunity because of the Internet?
    3. Lied to family members, a therapist or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet?
    4. Used the Internet as a way of escaping from problems?
    5. Become defensive when confronted about the behaviour?
    • A sense of euphoria while plugged in
    • Neglecting friends and family
    • Skimping on sleep
    • Dishonesty about usage
    • Feeling anxious, ashamed, guilty or depressed as a result of technology use
    • Withdrawing from other activities that were once pleasurable

    Physical symptoms of technology addiction may include: 

    • Weight gain or weight loss
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Headaches
    • Neck or backaches
    • Dry, red eyes

Risk Factors

Both men and women can develop a tech addiction, but gender tends to influence the kind(s) of technology you or a loved one may use. Men are more susceptible to compulsive behavior with online/video gaming, cyberporn and online gambling, while women are more likely to become addicted to sexting, texting, social media, eBay and online shopping.

The more you know about technology addiction, the better your chances of stopping a problem from getting worse and seeking help if you or a loved one need it.

Our work together

There are many therapeutic modalities used in the treatment of addiction. Addiction treatment therapy is not a “one size fits all” process. I have found, however, in creating a warm, genuine, and understanding space and within the framework of a person-centered therapy approach, you are given the opportunity to explore the underpinnings of your addiction in a supportive, non-judgemental environment. We will establish an open, trusting, collaborative relationship, facilitating you to reframe and gain insight. Instead of only looking at the addiction, we will examine how you have battled with an addiction to certain substances and why you engaged in certain behaviours when those substances were used.

Alcohol withdrawal can be painful and for some life threating. I would invite anyone considering to choose the path of abstinence, to have a consultation with their GP prior to stopping drinking. This will allow you to be safely and fully supported while you withdraw from alcohol. I have worked with and am fully supportive of clients choosing the AA 12 step approach, UK SMART and others recovery programs.

My experience has shown me that incorporating mindfulness, body relaxation, visualisation and breathing techniques, combined with a person-centred approach allow clients to experience a calmer approach, by observing their physical sensations and emotions. These act as a barometer for our health and well-being, learning the triggers and early warning signals long before lapse is allowed to escalate into full-blown relapse. Counselling can help you find the time to sit quietly and alone with yourself, reflecting on your life more compassionately and without judgement. You can learn to pay attention to your feelings and sensations in the present moment, rather than getting caught up in excessive preoccupations with the past or imagined future catastrophe.

Additional Areas of counselling I work with:

  • Abortion
  • Accident
  • Affairs and betrayal
  • Anger management
  • Pre-Bereavement, Bereavement
  • Bullying
  • Cancer
  • Career
  • Carer support
  • Change
  • Child related issues
  • Chronic boredom
  • Dating
  • Domestic violence
  • Drug and alcohol abuse (Substance misuse)
  • Eating disorders
  • Elderly issues
  • Emotional abuse
  • Emptiness
  • Family issues
  • Financial concerns/ debt
  • Gambling
  • Generalised anxiety disorder
  • Historical abuse
  • Infatuation
  • Infertility
  • Insecurities
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Judgement
  • Loneliness
  • Loss
  • Miscarriage
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Obsession
  • Panic disorder
  • Passive aggressive behaviour
  • Perfectionism
  • Phobias
  • Physical abuse
  • Pregnancy and birth
  • Redundancy
  • Relocation
  • Retirement
  • Shyness
  • Separation and divorce
  • Sex problem
  • Sexuality
  • Smoking
  • Spending
  • Spirituality
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Wedding nerves
  • Work-related stress