It is far too easy for those who do not fully understand addiction to dismiss this illness as one that affects only those who are weak-willed, easily lead or should know better. They also cannot understand why an addict does not simply cease use of the substance(s) concerned immediately.
Such thoughts are obviously formed without an understanding of exactly how complex addiction is, why some people are more prone to becoming addicted than others and the reason it drives many to an early grave.
Those men and women who are addicted do not have control over their actions.
Where drugs are concerned an addict does not know exactly what different chemicals they are putting into their body. The ‘main’ substance responsible for their devastating dependence will obviously be the major ingredient, but they are also pumping their bodies full of a wide range of chemicals and mixing agents that can also do substantial harm.
Addiction is not just drug-related:
Again, it is easy for those who are unaware of exactly what addiction is to assume that illegal substances or the abuse of prescription medication is the only cause of dependence.
Yes, addictions are caused by the physical things a person consumes, so alcohol and drugs certainly top the list, but addiction can strike in many ways. Gambling is a valid and worrying example but there are many others.
When considering, it is important to understand that this can either be a substance or a behavioural addiction.
Addiction wears 2 hats:
History shows us that a person classified as an addict was one who was dependent upon psychoactive substances which affected them by crossing the blood-brain barrier and temporarily altered the brain’s chemical balance.
Major psychoactive substances are alcohol, certain categories of drugs; the opioid family are a powerful example, and tobacco.
Over time this single reason causing addiction had been challenged. It is now accepted by medical and addiction professionals that a second strand of dependency exists. This is psychological addiction. Gambling has already been mentioned in this category, but sex, exercise, work and internet addiction are also placed in this category.
Different reasons – similar negative feelings:
Whether your dependence has been caused due to physical or psychological issues there are common feelings of negativity to contend with. Examples are:
- Enhanced feelings of guilt
- A deeper and more pronounced feeling of shame that will generally be very well disguised
- A sense of helplessness at their situation which only serves to fuel addiction
- Deep despair where an addict often feels they have nowhere to turn
- Self-failure will be a regular visitor to their thoughts as will how they have failed others
- Rejection will deepen. An addict will reject anyone close to them in various ways while those affected can eventually reject the addict due to unreasonable and erratic behaviour.
- Anxiety is a common companion. This is increased if there are extended periods without an addict’s substance of choice.
- Humiliation is also something that has significant effects on an addict’s self-respect.
We will continue to look at exactly what addiction is in the 2nd article, but anyone who relates to things mentioned above really would benefit from seeking urgent professional assistance.
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