What is addiction and are there different types of addiction?
Not all addicts inject heroin or smoke crack cocaine, many among us overeat, overdrink, smoke cigarettes, obsessively buy things we don’t need, gamble away the rent money or in one of a hundred possible ways do things that ultimately harm our bodies, minds and lives.
Indeed all addictions have an element of self-harm built into them.
There are many definitions of addiction but simply put, an addiction is a perpetual urge and action of doing, taking or using something to the degree it could be harmful.
What are some examples of addictive behaviours?
Whilst there are almost countless different forms of addictions, they all broadly fall into 2 categories, substance addictions and process addictions
What is a Substance Addiction
Nicotine, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, sugar, caffeine, cannabis are amongst the most common examples, but many more substances could potentially fall into this category, it is a case of anything counts in large enough amounts if it has an effect on one’s mood and the usage of it becomes excessive.
What is a Process Addiction
Examples include gambling, shopping, sex, love, eating/bingeing
These are often the more difficult to firstly identify and to secondly overcome. Why because they involve our own brain chemistry. For example, in the case of love addiction, the actual addiction is to the Phenethylamine (PEA), a neurotransmitter produced by the brain which is estimated by some scientists to be 10 to 100 x more potent than crack cocaine!
How can hypnosis help
Addictions can be powerful, cunning and baffling
It is important to understand that whilst hypnosis can help, it won’t do all the work for you, for example, it can ease withdrawal but not take it away. Therefore we are strict on who we will take into treatment for addiction, you will need to demonstrate a genuine desire and commitment to getting well.
We also recommend that any of our addiction patients join an appropriate 12 step fellowship.
12 step fellowships are not for everyone, and they do not have all the answers, but they can provide valuable support and as long as one takes what is useful and leaves the rest behind they can be very helpful.
What causes a person to become addicted?
There are a number of factors which can lead to addiction including genetics, but in my clinical experience, the main contributor is Pain! Usually emotional pain and often severe depression.
The natural impulse to do or take whatever works to relieve the distress is the basis of addiction.
No-one wakes up one morning and thinks oh I have a good idea, I will become an addict. It doesn’t work like that. Addictions are a progressive illness which builds up, in the first instance from a method of self-medicating. Over time in the absence of any other effective methods, the usage increases until, before the person knows it, they have become dependent and cannot stop.
As one of my previous patients put it
“In the absence of any obvious effective alternatives, it stops me blowing my brains out when I wake up each morning”….
This indicates only too well the level of emotional distress many addicts are experiencing.
Is an addiction a disease?
For a long time, there has been a significant debate with psychological and scientific circles as to whether addictions constitute a disease like cancer or diabetes. The general consensus amongst most medical associations and all 12 step fellowships are that they do.
What is the most common form of addiction?
It is almost impossible to say for sure but caffeine, sugar, nicotine, alcohol and love/sex are the most common in my clinical experience.
For help with addiction
Remember your addiction may well not be your fault, but it is your responsibility, so seek help and do something about it.
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