Addictions people struggle with / Types of addiction
There are number of substances, activities or processes that a person can become addicted to. Below are the most common :
Most people enjoy a drink of alcohol from time to time as a way of socialising with friends or relaxing. Many problems with alcohol start by using alcohol as a way to relax or de-stress, which leads to getting drunk or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol after a particularly stressful day. Alcohol addiction, alcohol dependence or alcoholism as is a cycle of excessive alcohol use, or drinking, where you are unable to control the compulsive behaviour and a high level of tolerance builds up so that you require more alcohol more frequently to get the same effect. You don’t have to drink every day to be an alcoholic. Alcoholism is not defined by what or how much you drink, but by the impact the drinking has on your life. You can hold down a job and/or provide for your family and still be an alcoholic. However, a common sign of alcoholism is ‘blacking out’ as a result of drinking.
Alcohol damages almost every organ in your body and has cumulative toxic effect including cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, dementia, heart disease, nutritional deficiencies, and sexual dysfunction. Women develop complications from long-term alcoholism more quickly than men. You may have other problems at the same time with alcoholism such as major depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder. Suicide is also common and if you have suicidal thoughts you should contact lifeline on 131114
Smoking (nicotine) Addiction
Nicotine is an extremely addictive drug and can come in many forms such as chewing tobacco or snuff or cigarettes. Smoking is the most common and although some people can be casual or occasional smokers, in reality, these are less than 10% of smokers. Most smokers become addicted after as few as four cigarettes.
Nicotine is highly addictive because it is very similar to brain chemicals that occur naturally in your brain. Once you inhale or ingest nicotine it easily unlocks the flow of many other brain chemicals, including the pleasure inducing brain chemicals. Nicotine also stimulates your nervous system producing a sense of alertness and a high. Nicotine is also highly addictive because it only lasts in your body for two hours and as such you constantly need to top up your levels of nicotine.
One of the main negative effects of smoking on the body is lung cancer, but other effects include infertility, short-term increase in blood pressure, narrowing of the arteries and abdominal cramps or nausea. If you try to withdraw from nicotine, it takes your body 72 hours to naturally detoxify. Nicotine-replacement products can be used to wean your body off the nicotine by slowly reducing the amount of nicotine you need. However, sometimes you can become addicted to the nicotine in these products as it is the same chemical.
Drug addiction is characterised by a compulsive and at times uncontrollable desire and craving for a drug, that results in a continual cycle of usage and obtaining more of the drug by any means to continue using. Addicts are psychologically and generally physically dependant on the effects of the drug, which means that you feel physical and psychological effects when you try to stop using the drug such as tremors, cravings, depression and anxiety. For some who have been addicted to drugs for a long time the addiction can become chronic and can result in frequent relapses even after periods of not using where the amount of the drug you use increases back to previous levels very quickly.
If you are addicted to a drug you will constantly obsess about the drug and using the drug and you will often go to any extreme to get a hold of the drug, including resorting to illegal activity to gain the money to purchase more of the drug. Different drugs have different negative effects on your body. For example heroin can result in many physical problems associated with injecting the drug such as transmitting diseases, scaring and sores, and veins collapsing; cocaine can result in damage and even collapse of the cartilage in your nose.
Gambling addiction often starts by using gambling as a fun way to unwind from a bad or stressful day. As the addiction starts to take hold, gambling then becomes more common and the activity that you use every time you feel stressed. Gambling addiction occurs when you cannot control the urge to gamble, even when you know that you are unlikely to win and cannot afford to lose.
Gambling addiction often leads to significant financial difficulties, however, even if you can afford the gambling, there are other costs such as to your relationship or job due to the time spent on gambling. Some common signs of problem gambling include lying about the amount of gambling you are doing or the amount of money spent on gambling. Needing to turn to family or friends to bail you out when you have spent all your money. Chasing to try to win back loses with one more gamble and feeling out of control.
Food addictions often starts with eating food to comfort yourself or make yourself feel better when you are feeling stressed, sad or upset. Or you may reward yourself with a special food treat, but this reward turns into larger and larger quantities of food every time you feel bad. Food addiction, also known as compulsive overeating, involves excessive and uncontrolled episodes of binge eating where food is consumed past the point of feeling comfortably full. Often the urge to eat is triggered by your mood and you turn to binge eating when you feel down, depressed, cranky or frustrated as a way of making yourself feel better. You don’t have to binge eat to be a food addict, you can simply constantly graze at food but you are still eating excessive amount of food and far more than you need to feel full.
Food addiction can lead to many health problems due to poor diet, including malnutrition or being overweight or obese. Sometimes, you may also start to find ways to get rid of the calories from the food you have eaten, called purging, such as vomiting or using diuretics, which leads to an eating disorder called bulimia. Anorexia or the restriction of food intake is another eating disorder which shares many traits of an addiction.
Video game addiction
Some users experience so much excitement from video games they become addicted to the high they experience. Teen and pre-teens are particularly prone to getting addicted to this excitement. Video games are addictive in part because they are designed to be highly engaging. Video game keep you playing for extended periods by the use of incentives built into the games such as small ‘wins’, achieving the highest score, beating the game, role playing, discovering new worlds or things in the game, and building relationships with other players, often through a character. You may have a video game addiction if you are willing to sacrifice doing other activities or spending time with your family or friends because you want to play more video games. You may find yourself becoming more aggressive as a result of playing video games, or your sleep patterns or your ability to remember things may change. Often the amount of time that is spent playing video games also causes problems in your relationships with family and friends.
Internet & Screen Addiction
Searching for information, looking at screens, updating Facebook and other online activities are commonplace in today’s world. However, you may have an internet and / or screen addiction if you have a compulsion to spend an excessive amount of time on the Internet or looking at screens and neglect other areas of your life such as relationships or work. A common sign that you may be addicted to the internet is if you feel anxiety or moodiness when you can’t go online, you fantasise about the Internet and you can’t stop using the Internet once you start. You may be addicted to sex or pornography, relationships through chat rooms, games or simply the ability to search and collect information.
Sex addiction occurs when you have an excessively high sex drive, an obsession with sex, and feel a constant compulsion to have sex or complete a sexual act. Sex addiction differs from just having a high sex drive in that if you are an addict, you rarely gain any satisfaction from sex or the sexual activity and you will often feel guilty or shameful afterwards. If you are risking your health, family, relationships or job to have sex, you may be a sex addict. Sex and thoughts of sex tend to dominate your thinking making it difficult to work, complete tasks or have non-sexual relationships. You may engage in all types of sexual acts including masturbation, pornography, sex chat lines or online chat lines and multiple or anonymous partners. Sex addicts will often engage in unsafe sex, which can lead to health risks such as STDs or AIDs. There can also often be a high financial cost of being a sex addict if you are paying for sex.
Many people enjoy shopping and buying themselves something new to wear. Shopping addiction, also called compulsive shopping, often starts when you use a bit of retail therapy to make yourself feel better when you are feeling sad, depressed or upset by something. However, shopping addiction develops when you start using shopping as a way of coping every time you feel stressed or every time something negative happens in your life.
If you have a shopping addiction, you will often buy things you really don’t need, or you will buy several things that are exactly the same just because of the excitement you feel during the shopping event. Shopping addicts will often see a sale and just buy things because they are on sale, regardless of whether they need the item or not. If you have a shopping addiction you will often have plan on how to do your shopping, planning which shops to go to and what you want to buy. The main negative effects of shopping addiction are financial difficulties and debt as bank accounts are cleared out and credit cards are maxed due to the excessive spending. However, as all other activities are sacrificed so that you can shop, often relationships with family and friends break down or work suffers.
Many people work too much and will often take on more work or try to multi-task more that is actually achievable. In today’s busy world, it is often challenging to find work-life balance. However, work addicts or workaholics are either constantly at work or involved in some aspect of their work all the time. This may mean you are going into work on your days off or when you are on holiday, constantly being on your mobile phone or checking emails on your Blackberry, even during non-work hours.
You may be a work addict if you are unable to create and stick to a healthy work schedule and are prepared to keep working at all cost. You may feel a high or rush from the pressure, status of work or amount of money you earn from work. Work addiction is often positively supported by the organisation you work for as it rewards you through promotion, salary or bonus for the extra work you have put in. However, other aspects of your life are likely to suffer such as your personal relationships and your health. In addition, work addiction often causes high levels of stress and causes other negative effects on your health including difficulty sleeping, feeling tired and exhausted all the time, weight gain or loss, chronic headaches, increased blood pressure, stomach ulcers and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Porn addiction is defined by a dependence upon pornography including obsessive viewing, reading and thinking about pornography to the exclusion of other aspects of life. Porn addiction is different to Sex addiction in that Sex addiction involves another party and the relentless pursuit of new partners and new ways to get sex. Porn addicts on the other hand are seeking sexual images and new and visually stimulating material. This material is most often found on the internet and is accessed via computer, mobile or another electronic device. Due to the ease of access to porn it is thought that the number of reported cases of porn addiction is growing.
Contrary to popular belief those addicted to porn often have difficulty with normal sexual arousal when they are with a real partner. They find it easier to become aroused looking at images rather than engaging in sex with another person, even if they find that person sexually attractive. As with any addiction, the person has difficulty stopping even if they have previously tried to and even if its having a negative impact on their relationships and other aspects of their life. Some of the issues that arise as a result of porn addiction include:
Isolation and loss of time. People with porn addiction can lose hours and sometimes days surfing the web for images and sexual material.
Loss of relationships.
Loss of work.
Living a secret or double life associated with the use of porn.
It can be helpful to read other people’s addiction stories and what caused addiction for them and how they have overcome it:
Recovery from addiction
It may be useful to speak with a therapist who is an expert in this area to assist in working out if you have an addiction. Research has shown that the earlier you intervene in the cycle of addiction the better chance you have of beating it.
It is important that you find a therapist who is both an expert in the field of addiction as well as being a good fit for you. Research has shown that the alliance between you and your therapist is the most important element for a successful outcome.
Select Counsellors provides a unique client counsellor matching service to ensure you see the right counsellor for you, first time. We have a pool of highly trained Sydney based counsellors, psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists who specialise in recovery from addiction. Based on important information collected in a personalised assessment about you and your needs we can assist you in finding the best fit treatment programme and / or therapist that will give you the best possible chance of an effective recovery from your addiction.To book an assessment click here or call on 1300 123 680 to speak in person with a Select Counsellor.
Click on the links below to find out more information on addiction:
The Helpful Guide