Addiction is complex and involves more than just substance abuse and/or dependence. Behaviours that you can’t stop doing which are negatively impacting your life, are likely to be considered an addiction. This can include activities or substance use. One of the ways that addiction works is that, whatever the behaviour, it stimulates the reward receptors in the brain and triggers a pleasure response. Even when the choices that trigger this pleasure or reward are damaging to other aspects of life, it’s difficult to stop engaging.
The nerve pathways in our brains can change during our lives. These pathways can both be weakened and strengthened. When our decision making centre of our brain is weakened it can be challenging to make choices without instantly responding to our compulsions. The good news is neuroplasticity – which means out brains are hugely capable of change.
Common types of addiction:
Behavioural addiction, when someone is addicted to specific activities and behaviours. This could include things like gambling, sex or the use of pornographic materials, engaging with social media, and even shopping.
Substance addiction refers to the physical dependance on a chemical substance. This could be anything from prescription medication to alcohol, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamines, and everything in between.
Some of the most frequently shared symptoms of either addiction type are:
Hiding or lying about the behaviour or use of substance to friends and family
Spending lots of time thinking about the substance or behaviour
Difficulty maintaining and managing responsibilities, eg. work/relationships
Regardless of the type of addiction, treatment will involve some counselling and psycho-education. This may be through a range of services such as one on one counselling sessions or support groups. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is also often used to treat people suffering from addiction. CBT looks at focussing on the thoughts and emotions that cause distress and/or harmful behaviours, and learning how to reframe them in that moment.
Recovery is different for everyone and making sure you get the best treatment suited for you is vital.
No matter the type of addiction someone is suffering from, treatment is always an option and recovery is always possible. If you or someone you love is in need of some help please call us on 03 9533 7888.