An addiction has no one known cause and no one known cure…they are complex and involve a mixture of past traumas, low self esteem and a need to escape or avoid. Treatment involves dealing with past and / or present stresses and traumas, increasing self esteem, creating a more helpful lifestyle with support and alternative coping strategies in place. People are either addicted to substances (drugs, alcohol, food) or processes (gambling, pornography) where no substance is involved.
If food rules your life and overeating has become a coping mechanism that you cannot manage without then it is a form of addiction. Unfortunately unlike other addictions food is not something that we can live without. Getting professional help can enable you to get free from food ruling your life so that you can begin to feel much more in control.
Excess alcohol consumption is often a way to manage difficult emotions from the past or present. It is a vicious cycle involving escapism to a different reality (albeit temporary) as well as an avoidance strategy (it puts life on hold for a bit). It can fill the gap when human needs are not being fully met but drives real life relationships apart. Alcohol is a depressant affecting the body in the same way as barbiturates and interfering with brain chemistry. This means regular excess use can cause further emotional turmoil including depression.
Treatment involves understanding and dealing with the underlying reasons for drinking in the first place as well as being able to use other more appropriate coping strategies.
Treatment can be carried out over a few months and often involves checking in at intervals (monthly, for example) over the longer term in order to support the new changes each step of the way and manage relapse. A 12 step group programme if appropriate may be discussed as part of the longer term treatment.
For those who have just come out of in-patient treatment or de-tox programmes I can put together a continuing programme for ongoing supportive recovery. Unfortunately if sufficient support and lifestyle changes are not in place people can fail after finishing an inpatient treatment programme and it can be a difficult adjustment to normal life because all the same triggers are still there.
Pornography & sex addiction
Behavioural addictions are so called because there is no “substance” involved.
Pornography and sexual addiction is a serious and debilitating addiction which is more to do with deep emotional needs not being met (or not knowing how to get the needs met), lack of satisfaction in life, a way to escape from stress and emotional problems, intimacy issues, communication issues (sex is a form of communication), power and control and low self esteem rather than the sexual act itself. It has far reaching consequences tearing relationships apart and leading to debt, guilt, shame and exhaustion.
The problem often starts when an early experience of gambling is linked to winners luck and the rush of a big win. Adrenaline and feel good chemicals are released followed by a feeling of wanting to recreate the good feelings by chasing after another big win (which of course does not happen that often)
Like porn addiction it is linked to deeper issues such as control and power, the need to escape and low self esteem.
Addictions are part of self defeating behaviour patterns & repeating vicious circles.
Carers of addicts
If you are a carer of someone with an addiction it can be frustrating and exhausting trying to help them whilst remembering to take care of yourself. It can be helpful for you to book some sessions for yourself.
This can be used to help you best help the sufferer, get support, information and guidance and also feel heard as well as looking at your own patterns, communication and relationship management.