Addiction: Definition, Symptoms and When to Seek Help?

Historically, addiction has been defined in a medical sense, with attention given to substances such as alcohol, tobacco and drugs. However, psychologists, the media and the public now take addiction to include other aspects, including, but not limited to; gambling, pornography, sex, self harm, food and even work and exercise.

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There are some physiological aspects of addiction, which relate to how the substance acts on the brain. Dependency can develop through repeated use of a drug, which physically changes the body’s chemistry. There are also psychological effects that relate to the reason for the addiction and the dependency on the particular substance or action (which develops through repeatedly behaving in a certain way until you feel as if you cannot manage without behaving or acting in that specific way). It is important to note that your mind can get become addicted to almost any activity that has an affect on your mood. Addictive behaviour can be identified when the activity becomes the focus of your life to the point of the sacrifice of others.

Addiction often becomes coupled with depression and it is for this reason, among others, that it is important to seek help. So what are the signs you can look at, to determine whether addiction has become a significant part of your life and merits help?

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Here are some questions to help::

– Is it an significant part of your life?

– Do you use the substance/ action to change the way you feel?

– Does the prospect of quitting unnerve you?

– Do you spend a significant part of the day thinking about the substance/ action or doing it?

– Have you ever indulged in secret?

Ultimately you must look to ask “do you control your addiction, or does your addiction control you”?

If you do choose to seek help, addiction counselling can address the symptoms, the emotional dependency and the impaired functioning often caused by your addiction. This style of counselling may use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to examine why addiction has become a controlling factor in your life. This therapy is goal-focused and therefore it is important that a client wants to change for a good outcome to occur. For this reason, wanting to change is often discussed in-depth during the counselling process.

Trained professionals are able to help you along your way to change. Seeking help is the first step; once you have done this you may realise that you are not alone and work towards the ultimate goal on being free from dependency on your addiction.

Harley Therapy has Addiction Counsellors in London who are available for consultations.

Charlotte Bassam-Bowles

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