What is Addiction?
Addiction is a behaviour (e.g. gambling; pornography or gaming) or the use of a substance (e.g. alcohol or amphetamines) that engages in the reward system of the brain, yet despite the behaviour’s negative consequences the person is unable to stop.
Do I have an addiction?
To identify if you may have an addiction here are some questions to consider:
- Do you feel you need to engage in addictive behaviour or substance use in order to feel ‘normal’?
- Do you find yourself withdrawing from activities you used to once enjoy?
- Do you have difficulty stopping the behaviour or substance use even though you know it’s causing you harm?
- Are you partaking in risk taking behaviour due to substance use?
- Do you experience withdrawals when you stop the behaviours/substance use (i.e. increased cravings, negative thoughts and physical withdrawals)?
- Is your substance use or behaviour jeopardizing your career, relationships or wellbeing?
If you answered yes to 2 or more of these questions, it may be worth considering contacting us for support.
Addiction is a diagnosable disorder that comes with a set of predispositions that can be broken down into four main components; biological, neurological, psychological and social.
Biological: Research has shown there are biological hereditary components of addiction that makes some people more susceptible to developing an addiction. Or you may have chronic pain; illness or auto-immune diseases that play a role in your addictive behaviour.
Neurological: Persistent repetition of a behaviour causes rewiring of neural pathways that become entrenched in habit. Also, neurological disorders may cause anxiety, depression, ADHD etc that could be a pre-existing underlying condition that contribute to your addiction.
Psychological: The thoughts and beliefs we may hold about ourselves, addiction and the behaviour or substance can contribute to continued use and difficulty in stopping. Psychological theories such as Classical Conditioning and Rational Choice theory, help with understanding the underlying causes of addiction.
Social: “Addiction starts in pain and ends in pain” – Eckhart Tolle.
Depending on the environmental factors in our past and present, we may have had encounters with trauma; or grief and addiction has been a way of coping. We may have grown up in a home where we felt lonely; or in a low socioeconomic area. In addiction, we often find ourselves in our present lives in environments that continue to feed the addiction through stress or association. It is very difficult to get well in an environment that makes you unwell.
At Gunnebah, we help you break down and understand ‘why’ you developed an addiction, and how to overcome it.
The aim of recovery is to start taking back control of your life. This requires firstly being supported to stop the addictive behaviour; when we recognise we are no longer in control of our actions, a residential rehab facility is often required to give us a temptation free place to heal. Secondly, building awareness around the why behind the using and implementing new tools and behaviours in how to maintain sobriety. Take a look at Our Method for working with addiction.
Key elements in recovery are:
- Choice: Developing awareness (through mindfulness and therapy), gives you greater power to pause and make an informed choice as to whether you engage in addictive behaviour or not. Addiction operates on an automated behavioural system and so it can feel as though it has taken away your free will.
- Education: Learning about addiction and its impacts on the biopsychosocial aspects of your life, can assist in better understanding of yourself.
- Meaning & Purpose: Through discovering what is valuable in your life, and then applying behaviours that are in alignment with these values, you regain the momentum of a purposeful existence.
- Wellbeing: As humans when we remove one behaviour, we have a natural tendency to replace it with another. Finding ways to identify the unhealthy habits in your life, and ways to replace them with new healthy habits, builds your resilience to stress.
- Emotional Regulation: Work on your emotional regulation toolkit! Addiction seeks to soothe pain. Learning new and effective ways to help regulate the nervous system in distress, will give you the control and security to take back your life.
- Connection & Belonging: We all yearn for connection! Many people in addiction can feel isolated and alone as they fight their inner demons. We all desire to love and be loved. Being connected through a group or community, helps us feel a sense of being a part of something greater than ourselves.
Research also shows that connecting with nature, working on your sleep routine, exercising consistently and focusing on healthy nutrition, have powerful holistic therapeutic benefits! At Gunnebah we work hard to incorporate all of these elements into Our Program.
Here is an interesting article from The Conversation about some of the myths and facts related to addiction and rehab.