Break the habit & build better ones

It takes courage and strength to admit to an addiction, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, nicotine or gambling. But, admitting it is the first step to wellness. Having an addiction can make you feel completely powerless. Even if you have tried and failed before, there is hope. With the right help, you can take back control of your life. Don’t wait for rock bottom. You can make a positive change in your life at any time, and the best time to start is now.

First, let’s take a closer look at what addiction is.
Addiction may be defined as physical or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, such as a drug or alcohol. In physical addiction, the body adapts to the substance being used and gradually requires increased amounts to reproduce the effects originally produced by smaller doses.

Habits and patterns associated with addiction are typically characterised by immediate gratification (short-term reward), coupled with delayed deleterious effects (long-term costs).

People with an addiction do not have control over what they are doing, taking or using. Their addiction may reach a point at which it is harmful. Addictions do not only include physical things we consume, such as drugs or alcohol, but can include addictive behaviours such as gambling. In other words, addiction may refer to a substance dependence (e.g. drug addiction) or behavioural addiction (e.g. gambling addiction).

Physiological dependence occurs when the body has to adjust to the substance by incorporating the substance into its ‘normal’ functioning. This state creates the conditions of tolerance and withdrawal. Tolerance is the process by which the body continually adapts to the substance and requires increasingly larger amounts to achieve the original effects. Withdrawal refers to physical and psychological symptoms people experience when reducing or discontinuing a substance the body had become used to and dependent on.

Symptoms of withdrawal generally include:
• anxiety
• irritability
• intense cravings for the substance
• nausea
• hallucinations
• headaches
• cold sweats
• tremors

What is the difference between a habit and an addiction?

• Habit – this is done by choice. The person with the habit can choose to stop, and will subsequently stop successfully when they want to. The psychological or physical component is not an issue as it is with an addiction.

• Addiction – there is a psychological and/or physical component; the individual is unable to control the aspects of the addiction without help because of the mental or physical conditions involved.

The most common addictions include, but are not limited to:
• alcohol
• drugs
• gambling

Therapy is an effective means of assisting individuals who are have addictions. The psychologists at Foundation Psychology can provide support for people with an addiction by helping them to:

• Gain insight into their boarder personality factors that contribute to addictive behaviours

• Understand how their lifestyle, including family, friends, colleagues, and enhancing social support networks influences addiction

• Restructure negative thoughts and behaviours (for example, through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)

• Monitor behaviour and progress via the use of a diary

• Set goals with the aim of controlling, reducing, or eliminating the addictive behaviour