Addictions can be understood as the overwhelming urge to engage in an activity, or activities, which when left unsatisfied can cause a significant degrees of distress. When we are compelled toward engaging in a certain activity or ritual or to consuming a certain substance in order to feel content – to satisfy a craving – this is an addiction. Addictions can lead us toward dependencies on alcohol, drugs (both prescription and illicit), gambling, pornography, sex, work, or shopping to name just a few – this list is by no means exhaustive. Being deprived of what it is one is addicted to can lead to discomfort, intense cravings, and physical consequences often referred to as withdrawal effects.
Of course engaging in many of these activities is possible without it leading to the compulsion to do so. For example, many people enjoy alcohol without feeling compelled to drink. The ‘highs’ experienced by a certain substance or activity can be greatly satisfying and leave us with a desire to consume more of the substance or repeat the activity in question. Addictions can also be understood as coping strategies – ways of blocking out or realigning one’s focus away from painful memories, feelings or circumstances we find ourselves in. However the early warning signs of an addiction developing can be hard to spot – ‘I’ll just play one more game’, “I’ll just have one more glass”. It is often only when the consequences of an addiction start to impact upon our daily lives – causing financial problems, difficulties in our relationships, the inability to work, or neglecting one’s commitments – that it becomes apparent that an addiction has been formed.
Judgemental attitudes toward so-called ‘addicts’ are unhelpful. They can be stigmatising and this stigma can be internalised by the individual concerned leading to feelings of shame and guilt. This can in turn make it difficult, if not impossible, to reach out to others and impinges upon the prospect of seeking help. Coming into contact with those expressing judgemental attitudes or internalised stigma may even exacerbate the addictive behaviour as a means of tolerating the emotional distress experienced. By contrast, a compassionate approach can foster the prospect for change and recovery.
At Psychology Sussex we are experienced in working with clients experiencing addiction and offer evidenced-based approaches to tailor an approach that suits you. You, or someone you may be concerned about, may have made previous attempts to overcome an addiction which have worked to a greater or lesser extent. At whatever stage you are at with an addiction, we would encourage you to make contact and discuss how the team at Psychology Sussex can help you. It is important to know you are not alone and that change is possible.
Do not hesitate to contact now to speak to one of our team about how it is Psychology Sussex may be able to help you