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Addiction occurs when someone has a compulsive, uncontrollable desire to use a substance, engage in a type of behaviour or both. The absence of this activity causes withdrawal symptoms. Addiction has a destructive impact on the addicted individual: their daily functioning, relationships, career, finances and psychological and physical health.
People may use substances – such as alcohol and drugs – or behaviours – including sex and gambling – to change their mood or to avoid acknowledging emotions and thoughts which may feel difficult or overwhelming. Addictions are often complex, involving a wide range of biological, psychological and social factors. Some people are reluctant to seek help due to the social stigma surrounding addiction issues and treatment.
At The Eaves, we understand that each client is unique. Your counsellor or therapist will work with you to help you gain insight into the underlying causes of your addiction. They will guide you to understand the feelings, thoughts and behaviours which have supported it and how to break your cycle of addiction. They will also support you with any other issues that may be a contributing factor to your addiction such as a history of abuse, anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression or trauma.
There are varying levels of alcohol dependency, ranging from feeling that you need to share a bottle of wine with your partner over dinner every evening, to feeling that you need alcohol to function and have an uncontrollable desire to drink often.
The spectrum of alcohol dependency is wide and includes people of all ages, from all socioeconomic and ethnic groups. Life changing events such as redundancy, divorce or bereavement may trigger heavy drinking to numb difficult feelings, which may lead to alcohol dependence. People who have experienced traumatic events such as childhood abuse, sexual abuse, a serious accident or a natural disaster may also become dependent on alcohol to try to manage uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.
Many people experiment with drugs out of curiosity, because it seems socially acceptable, to improve their performance or to relieve the symptoms of stress and depression. While some drug use is one-off or infrequent, it can easily turn into an addiction, as drugs alter the brain in ways that make it difficult for people to stop using them – even people who seem keen to stop.
If you are unable to stop taking a drug regularly, even when you know that it is harmful, you may be physically addicted. Some people only realise that they are addicted when they can no longer obtain the drug of their choice and experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
Starting therapy at The Eaves can help you gain insight into the underlying causes of your addiction and how to break your cycle of addiction and cope with experiences which might trigger a relapse.
Binge and compulsive overeating occurs when a person feels compelled to eat when they are not hungry and is unable to stop eating when they feel full. People who binge on food or overeat compulsively may do so in a mindless state and feel unable to stop eating large quantities of food.
Binge eating usually involves overeating in a short period of time, while the compulsive eater eats for no reason and may eat continuously during the day. They may experience cravings for certain types of foods – sugary treats or fast food. Some people may binge or compulsively eat in an attempt to feel better psychologically and distract themselves from issues such as stress, anxiety and depression, or to push down difficult emotions and thoughts. This in turn causes them to feel guilt and shame as a result of their behaviour.
People who are addicted to gambling have an impulse control disorder which involves compulsive, continuous urges to gamble, despite the negative impact their gambling might have on their relationships, work, finances and mental health. Addictive gambling behaviour includes: online sports betting, online games such as slot machines, roulette and poker, betting with a bookmakers’ shop and with friends.
The high produced by gambling is similar to that of some drugs, with people who are addicted to gambling experiencing the same compulsion to gamble and similar withdrawal symptoms when they are not able to have a gambling fix.
At The Eaves we understand that the spectrum of gambling addiction is wide, and includes people of all ages from all socioeconomic and ethnic groups. Our specialist counsellors and psychotherapists can help you gain insight into the underlying causes of your addiction and how to break your cycle of addiction.
As with other addictive behaviours, people who are addicted to sex feel that their urges are compulsive and out of their control, despite the damage this may have caused to their lives. People who are addicted to sex may have multiple sexual partners, pay for sexual contact, view porn excessively, engage in unsafe sex practices, or practice excessive masturbation. Their addiction may lead to relationship breakdowns – particularly with a partner or family – depleted finances, physical health risks and, potentially, legal sanctions.
Sex addiction often accompanies alcohol and drug addiction and may indicate longstanding issues around abuse and trauma, self esteem, and the inability to make and sustain nurturing relationships.
Do you need a consultation to help with addiction issues?
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