Addiction is a disease. Most experts agree it's a disorder of the brain. The addict using the substance or continuing compulsive behaviors only deepens the disorder in the brain and then the addiction controls every aspect of how they behave. An addiction disorder usually doesn't start overnight (cocaine is a huge exception to this rule) and is progressive. Over time, the addict needs more and more of the addictive substance or to continue the compulsive behavior to get the same effect.
Addiction is short-term relief from emotional pain to control their moods or immediate gratification to escape into the euphoria it gives them to make life tolerable, which turns into a long-term affliction, multiplying the troubles of the addict. Those struggling to cope with painful emotions, such as depression, boredom, stress, loneliness, or anxiety, may feel immediate relief, but over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to get the same "high."
The reasons that some people start abusing substances or begin persistent uncontrollable behaviors can vary. For some, they may take drugs to enhance their performance by giving them a boost and for others it could simply start out as peer pressure and just a “fun night out” or to feel more confident in their social life. Others with an obsessive-compulsive disorder may start to silently count to themselves to temporarily relieve their anxiety.
The Nature of Addictions and Disorders –
The Common Ground of Addictive Behaviors
No matter what the addiction, there are many aspects of the addictive behavior that the individual addictions have in common. Here are a few significant addictive behaviors:
Loss of control - People who are addicted cannot control their craving for the substance or their compulsion for a negative behavior, regardless of the consequences to their health, family and friends, career or wallet.
Compulsive behavior – Persistent behavior (a hallmark of addictions) that always leads to negative consequences. The addiction is a habitual replacement for essential needs not being satisfied. The user continues the out of control behavior despite losing their family and friends, jobs, homes and connection to reality.
Denial – Addicts are incapable of seeing that they have a problem. Denial is a defense mechanism used to avoid coping with the situation, which makes it difficult for the person to admit that they need help. People suffering from an addiction disorder either insist they do not have a problem or blame others.
Escalation – The loss of self-control continues to spiral and accelerate out of control. Willpower is no match for the disease. The addict will be out-powered if they try only to use willpower to conquer the addiction. Despite repeated attempts, the addict does not know how to quit. Therapy can help by getting to the root of the problem.
Manipulation – Lying to family, friends and co-workers is common among addicts. All addicts manipulate. And co-dependent loved ones will continue to be manipulated until they understand that they cannot stop the addiction, they can only decide to stop allowing the manipulation. This action can be the first step to get the addict on the road to recovery. When a loved one feels responsible for others’ actions, behaviors, feelings, choices and well-being, they are becoming a co-dependent of the addict and begin denying their own emotional needs and feelings.
Types of Addiction
Alcohol and drugs are the addiction disorders that come to mind for most people when they think about addictions. But there are a myriad of addictive disorders that afflict the addict and affect their family and friends. And to make matters worse, people with addictions usually have multiple addictions (concurrent addictions): Compulsive gambling, eating disorders, sexual addictions, as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder are just a few.
If you or a loved one has experienced a relapse – don’t give up hope – addiction treatment can still work for you. By going back to treatment for addiction with a skilled therapist who can adjust the treatment approach, you can get back on track.
Don’t struggle alone. If you or a loved one is ready to come to grips with your addiction, a trained professional counselor can help. Reach out to a therapist who is skilled and experienced in helping with addictions.
Montville Counseling Center also participates with Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for counseling for addiction and disorders. An EAP is a benefit offered by some employers to their employees and their family members to help resolve personal issues with professional and confidential counseling services. Check to see if you are covered by your employer with this benefit.