"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate"
- Carl Jung
Addiction is the experience of possessing an intense craving for a certain substance or the compulsion to engage in a certain activity. This longing is often so acute that the individual suffering from the addiction will sacrifice their own well being, as well as those of others, in order to attain or consume the object of their obsession.
The addict may perform acts which are harmful to their physical health, their career, their finances, their social standing and their intimate family relationships.
Addictions can be either Physical or Psychological, or a combination of the two. Some substances are physically addictive in themselves. This means that when the substance is ingested, the body becomes dependent upon its presence. When the person does not ingest the substance, the body experiences physical withdrawal symptoms. This is a Physical Addiction.
Other substances or behaviours are not addictive in themselves. Some of these substances or behaviours, like food or working, are an important part of normal adult life. However, it is the compulsive habits which develop around these substances and behaviours, that make them unhealthy. In this case, it is the emotional attachment to the substance or activity which causes the obsessive behaviour known as Psychological Addiction.
Common Substance Addictions include:
- Recreational Drugs,
- Prescription Medication
- and Alcohol.
Some Common Behavioural Addictions are:
- And Social Media.
The Symptoms of Substance and Behavioural Addiction include:
- Escalated Use or Engagement
- Compulsive Using or Engagement
- The Inability to Limit Usage or Engagement
- Irritability when Not Using or Engaging
- Neglect of the Body
- Neglect of Duties and Responsibilities
- Disinterest in Personal Relationships
- Disinterest in Anything Other than the Substance or Activity
Addiction can be a painful cycle to break. In Addiction Counselling it is often necessary to work through the guilt that the addict experiences as a result of repeating the behaviour. The reason for this is that the guilt often perpetuates the obsessive engagement in the harmful activity.
The substance or behaviour is often already identified as a “guilty pleasure” in the addict’s mind. When the person starts to feel like they can’t control the behaviour, they feel that they must quit immediately and vow to abstain from the habit or substance. However, without the help of an adequate support system, the addict often reverts back to their damaging behaviour.
When they are not able to resist the addiction the individual feels guilty for their perceived lack of discipline. The cycle of guilt then begins again and the person feels powerless and even more guilty for all the damage they have caused to their bodies, their livelihood and/or their personal relationships.
In addiction counselling, the therapist and client will work together to:
- Establish the Core Issues,
- Resolve the Underlying Emotional Problem,
- Develop a Support System,
- Eliminate Trigger Situations,
- Implement Better Coping Mechanisms
- and Implement Healthy Routines.
The goal of addiction counselling is to help the client realise that they are not defined by their bad habits and that they can overcome their addiction. Therapy will allow the client to feel that they have control over their life and their decisions so that they can gain a sense of personal freedom.