What is addiction?

Your brain releases ‘feel-good’ chemicals when engaging in activities that make you feel happy. These chemicals can encourage you to repeat behaviours that result in happiness, as they provide an enjoyable ‘high.’ Addiction occurs when seeking out this ‘high’ develops into an uncontrollable, compulsive desire or inability to stop engaging with the activity, despite it having negative or harmful consequences on your psychological health, physical health or everyday life.

What types of addiction are there?

While many of us associate addiction with substances such as alcohol or drugs, there are a number of activities can lead to addiction, including shopping, internet use, sex, and gambling.

Are you being controlled by bad habits?

While many of us associate addiction with substances that can have a negative physical affect on the body, such as alcohol or drugs, these are not the only pathways to addiction. A number of activities can lead to addiction, including shopping, internet use, sex, and gambling.

All addictions can negatively affect your physical and psychological health. Symptoms of addiction can include obsessive-compulsive traits, panic attacks, deteriorating relationships, depression, anxiety, issues at work, significant financial problems, health issues and sleep disturbance.

If your compulsive desire to engage in an activity is affecting your day-to-day functioning, including negatively impacting upon your health or financial stability, then addiction counselling and psychotherapy may be beneficial for you. If you are worried about addiction, act now and seek help as soon as possible.

What is the difference between misuse and addiction to substances?

There is a difference between the misuse of an addictive substance and an addiction to that substance.

Misuse is defined as incorrect, non-therapeutic, or excessive use of mind-altering and body-altering substances.

Addiction is defined as the long-term inability to cease or moderate the intake of mind-altering and body-altering substances.

Not all individuals who misuse substances have an addiction. For instance, drinking a large amount of alcohol in one evening may make you feel euphoric or ill from over-consumption, but addiction involves partaking in this behaviour uncontrollably or to the point that it affects activities in your daily life.

When you are addicted to substances you will misuse them despite the harmful consequences to their health, relationships, work and daily life.

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What are the signs of an addition?

Signs and symptoms indicating the development of an addiction can include:

  • Losing interest or neglecting responsibilities in favour of engaging in addictive habits
  • Uncontrollably seeking out addictive substances
  • Engaging in habit-forming behaviour to a dangerous extent
  • Experiencing an inability to cease the consumption of an addictive substance despite its negative effect on relationships, career, physical health, and mental health
  • Increased risk taking in order to access addictive substances or while using addictive substances
  • Changes in appearance and a poor sense of hygiene
  • Developing a sense of secrecy surrounding addictive behaviours and habits

What is withdrawal?

Withdrawal occurs when an individual with an addiction takes steps to decrease their use of an addictive substance or ceases use of an addictive substance altogether. This can involve many unpleasant physical and psychological effects.

Withdrawal from an addictive substance can result in both physical and emotional symptoms, including:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tremors and shaking

A decreased or sudden halt to use of a highly addictive substance can result in serious ill health or death. It is essential to contact a medical professional before withdrawing from an addictive substance.

What is addiction counselling and psychotherapy?

An addiction therapist can help you uncover whether you have an addiction before treating the addiction. Therapy for addiction may help you to identify the underlying causes that have lead to a vicious cycle of compulsive behaviour and note any triggers that may result in a relapse.

Your therapist can also address any psychological issues that may have arisen from your addiction, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression. The therapy process may also aid family and friends, giving them the opportunity to understand your addiction and guide them to ensure they provide the correct support during your recovery.

Serious addictions may require diagnosis by a consultant psychiatrist and monitoring to treat any mental health issues that may have arisen. A referral to a residential rehabilitation centre may also be required.

Your therapist

A counsellor or psychotherapist will work with you to examine your thoughts and behaviours that may have contributed to your addiction. You will be encouraged to build a trusting relationship with your therapist in order to share your emotions and feelings with them in confidence. They will listen to you with openness and empathy, but will not force you into following a particular course of action.

Your therapist will help you to identify the causes of your addiction and reach a position of self-understanding that can allow you to identify what triggers your desire to pursue your addiction. They can devise strategies to help you cope with these trigger situations and can assist you in managing any withdrawal symptoms you may experience during recovery.

Find an addiction therapist now

Book addiction counselling online whenever you are ready. We can help you find qualified, professional psychotherapists and counsellors easily and quickly wherever you are, either online, by phone or in person.

All of our therapists are insured and registered to practice as a therapist within the UK. We ensure they hold all the professional training necessary to be recognised as a licensed practitioner.

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