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Addictions

Whilst Counselling4you does work with addictions we do not specialise in the treatment of drink and drug related addictions. However we do work with the root causes of all addictions because they often have common themes, especially with Food, OCD, Gambling, Hoarding, Shopping, Pornography and so on.

An Addiction is a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in a detrimental specific activity. The term is often reserved for drug & alcohol abuse, but it does apply to other compulsions, such as gambling, over-eating, pornography, hyper religiosity etc. Factors that have been suggested as causes of addiction include genetic, biological/pharmacological, attachment disorders and social factors.

Not everyone agrees on what addiction or dependency is. Traditionally, addiction was defined as being only possible with substance abuse, alcohol, tobacco or other drugs which ingested cross the blood-brain barrier, altering the natural chemical behaviour of the brain temporarily. However, studies in family history and the response to treatment suggest that  hoarding and gambling, may be related to mood disorders, alcohol, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders, especially (obsessive-compulsive disorder, OCD)

It is generally accepted that addiction is a disease, a state of physiological or psychological dependence or devotion to something which leads to a condition with significant symptoms liable to have a damaging and long term effect.

Many addictions and dependency on such things as gambling, food, sex, pornography, computers, work, exercise, cutting, shopping, and religion are connected to feelings of guilt, shame, fear, hopelessness, failure, rejection and anxiety. Also humiliation symptoms associated with, among other medical conditions such as depression, epilepsy, and hyper religiosity.

When an addicted gambler or shopper is satisfying their craving, chemicals called endorphins are produced and released within the brain, reinforcing the individual's positive associations with their behaviour.

Physical dependence on a substance is defined by the appearance of characteristic withdrawal symptoms when the substance or behaviour is suddenly discontinued. While opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, alcohol and nicotine are all well known for their ability to induce physical dependence, the categories of substances share this property and are not considered addictive: cortisone, beta-blockers and most antidepressants are examples. So, while physical dependency can be a major factor in the psychology of addiction and most often becomes a primary motivator in the continuation of an addiction, the initial primary attribute of an addictive substance is usually its ability to induce pleasure, although with continued use the goal is not so much to induce pleasure as it is to relieve the anxiety caused by the absence of a given addictive substance, causing it to become used compulsively.

Therapy for Addictions

Counsellors/therapists often classify clients with chemical dependencies as either being interested or not interested in changing. Treatments usually involve planning for specific ways to avoid the addictive stimulus, and therapeutic interventions intended to help a client learn healthier ways to find satisfaction. In recent years counsellors/therapists have attempted to tailor interventions to specific influences that affect addictive behaviour, using therapeutic interviews in an effort to discover factors that led a person to embrace unhealthy, addictive sources of pleasure or relief from pain. Considering elements of all other models in developing a therapeutic approach to dependency. It holds that the mechanism of dependency is different for different individuals, and that each case must be considered on its own merits, taking culture, society and family dynamics into account.