Addictions are very complex sets of phenomena involving the human psyche and body. The more we understand the pattern of their formation, the better chance we have of preventing them. What can help us when we find ourselves in the grip of addiction?
What you can become addicted to
An addiction, or dependence, is a type of very strong desire to use something or do something.
Types of addictions
Unfortunately, you can become addicted to a wide range of substances. Some of these are less common:
- food (like fast food),
- computer games,
The pattern of becoming an addict
Researchers, studying various cases of addiction, have identified patterns of becoming an addict. The most important are three mechanisms:
The compulsive emotion regulation mechanism
Is particularly well noted when alcohol addiction occurs. It works when the alcoholic is unable to cope with a problem. The mechanism then activates alcohol craving. Only after drinking the first dose of alcohol can the addict feel relief, but it is short-lived. A drop in the blood alcohol level results in a return to the unresolved problem, which again wants to move away through intoxication. A “vicious cycle” characteristic of alcoholism occurs. Drinking to solve one problem, even if it is significant, is not a recipe for solving it and additionally causes other problems: at work, in family relations, a hole in the household budget.
Illusion and denial mechanism
This mechanism is related to cognitive dysfunction experienced by the addicted person. Despite the fact that drinking or taking drugs, for example, continues to push them into new problems, they don’t seem to notice it. Even when receiving feedback from the environment, she insists that there is nothing wrong with her and she does not have a substance abuse problem. Alternatively, she blames external situations for her drinking, drugging or gambling; stressful work, lack of understanding from loved ones or unfulfillment. In practice, these often stem from the drinking, not the other way around
The mechanism of the distracted and split self”
The final mechanism of addiction is a type of split self that causes the addict to lose the power to direct their life. A dissonance occurs between two states:
- a powerful belief in oneself and one’s abilities after drinking alcohol or using another psychoactive drug,
- a lack of self-confidence in the state of sobriety.
The second situation involves suffering and a sense of failure. Then a person looks for ways to remedy this, but finds escape only in stimulants.
Factors influencing emergence of addictions
Different kinds of factors can be at the root of addiction.
- Biological: they have genetic background and concern weaker aversive reactions for taking psychoactive substance, for example alcohol. In this case, there is a greater tendency to drink dangerous amounts of alcohol
- Psychological: reaching for stimulants may also be due to the pleasant state of relaxation they cause; especially people with a greater tendency towards sadness and pessimism will have an easier path to addiction
- Social: the patterns present in a person’s environment can also be a contributing factor to addiction. Surroundings that drink, use drugs, or gamble can be very destructive
Methods of fighting addiction
Battling addiction sometimes requires varying elements of treatment. Some of the most common include:
- individual and group psychotherapy,
- reprogramming – teaching new patterns of behavior and attitudes with positive effects,
- skill-focused therapy,
- skills training,
- pharmacological treatment (usually as an adjunct).
Addiction therapy can take place in a variety of modalities. Sometimes inpatient treatment is required, other times it may be in a day unit or outpatient addiction treatment appointments (outpatient mode).
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