What is An Addiction?

Woman with an addiction

What You need To Know About An Addiction & Addiction Treatment


An addiction means being out of control with something that can cause you harm.  You’re not able to control the amount, the frequency or the results of whatever your addiction is. If you’re trying to assess if you have an addiction to something you need to answer No to these questions:

  • Do you know the consequences of your addiction but still keep doing it anyway?
  • Can you control when you have you addiction choice?
  • Can you control how much you have of your addiction of choice?
  • Are you experiencing side effects from your addiction that’s impacting your relationship, friendships, career or health?
  • Can you go a day without thinking about your addiction?
  • Are you willing to lie about your addiction?

There are different levels of commitment to an addiction. You may know you shouldn’t have too much alcohol but you drink it anyway. That doesn’t mean you are addicted to alcohol or you’re an alcoholic. It means you lost control at that point in time. How often are you doing it and what is it costing you, will help you determine if it’s a bigger problem than you thought.


Most people love chocolate and will eat more than they should because they love it. They call themselves a chocoholic and will often say they are addicted to chocolate. Is this less of a problem than a person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol?   No. An addiction is an addiction and it is hard to shake it off just because you know you shouldn’t do it. Just like people who are trying to lose weight. They are addicted to food because of the comfort they feel from food.


Addictions are a way of comforting yourself from negative emotions. Even if you started off your addiction for fun, let’s say you were at a party and someone offered you marijuana. Maybe you had it because it was fun and you wanted to be cool. This isn’t an addiction for comfort yet.  It becomes an addiction for comfort when the person starts to believe that they can’t go to a party without marijuana. They tell themselves they need it so they can feel relaxed or so they can have the courage to talk to people.


An addiction starts somewhere and each person’s reasons are personal. The same way a person will start an addiction is the way they will end it. They will only end it because they want to end and not because someone else wants them to. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to give it up. It means that it isn’t that simple and you’re not doing anyone a favour by making promises you can’t keep.


A common comment from people who want someone to give up an addiction is:

Please give it up, me for. If you love me, you’ll give it up.”

Woman wishing her partner would give up an addiction

An addiction has nothing to do with how much you love someone else. It’s about how you feel about yourself. If you feel like crap about yourself and your self-esteem is shot to pieces then giving up something that gives you comfort is not a good move is it?  You have found something that helps you – in that moment. It’s powerful, it’s effective and you don’t need anyone’s permission to do it.


The real cost to you for this behaviour or choice is huge. An addiction will cost you everything at some point in time. The addiction is not giving you courage or confidence it’s giving you a mask to hide behind.  When you start being someone you’re not, it becomes confusing. You start to block out your true feelings and start faking other feelings that you believe you should be feeling.


You’re supposed to feel your emotions. You are supposed to feel:

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Hurt
  • Guilt
  • Fear

Feelings are normal and numbing them out is not helping you in the long run. When you experience situations that have emotions attached to them your unconscious mind will repress your feelings. Then your mind will bring them up for you to resolve later. This happens by attracting similar situations and outcomes. If you are not ready you will repress the feelings again. The cycle continues until you face your emotions and deal with them.


You can choose to build up a wall and think you can escape negative emotions in the future because you cut people off or stop doing things in your life. It doesn’t work because when you build up a wall you block out the negative emotions but you also block out the good emotions of love, happiness, peace and joy. That means, you need to manufacture these emotions synthetically with substances. It’s not the same feeling so you become dependent on something else to make you feel good when you can actually do that for yourself.


Once you have dealt with your emotions you will be empowered for any situation life bring you. This is true power. The ability to feel negative and positive feelings mean you have emotional freedom because you are not scared to feel.


Substance Addictions


A substance addiction is when a person is compulsively seeing and using harmful chemical drugs. The drugs change the way a persons brain works as a result and that’s why substance addiction is also referred to as a brain disease. The most common substance addictions include drugs and alcohol. These two categories are the least acceptable addictions in society. They are more obvious than other addictions and they are not easy to hide because they alter your personality significantly because drugs and alcohol are used as “uppers” and “downers”. 


Other Addictions 


These addictions are harmless enough in moderation but an addiction knows no boundaries. Here is a list of other addictions that can slip under the radar but have the potential to cause serious effects in the long term:

  • Food
  • Sex
  • Internet
  • Gaming
  • Social Media
  • Adrenalin
  • Exercise
  • Sex
  • Work
  • Cigarettes
  • Chocolate
  • Shopping

Looking at this list, you may think some of these things don’t belong on an “addiction list”. However like an addiction they can cause a ripple effect of issues across your life if they become out of control.


Being too plugged in to social media, the Internet or gaming means you’re not present. You are not engaging with your family, friends or your partner. People will lie to get another 5 minutes of these activities. Once they get started they find it hard to get off the computer as they get lost in time because they enter a trance state. Entering a trance state is another way to numb out feelings and numb out the world.


Gambling, sex, work, are other behavioural and impulsive addictions that cause issues because they are also used as uppers and downs for your emotions. People are looking for the high and although these are natural highs they also come with natural lows. These addictions can affect your health, your finances and your stress levels, which trigger adrenalin.


Some of these addictions are socially acceptable while others aren’t acceptable at all. The difference is with the addiction list above, they can be hidden a lot longer than substance abuse addictions. It doesn’t make them any less of an addiction or less intense. These addictions can cross over to an impulse addiction and a behavioural addiction. An impulse addiction means a person cannot resist the temptation or urge towards something that may cause themselves harm as a consequence.


Impulsive Addiction


An impulse addiction means a person cannot resist the temptation or urge towards something that may cause themselves harm as a consequence. They feel an arousal or tension before engaging in the addiction activity. Even though they feel great pleasure during the activity they will usually feel guilty afterwards. They aim to satisfy their immediate desire but it doesn’t mean the plan for it, they act on impulse.


Behavioural Addiction


A behavioural addiction is a repeated compulsion towards a non-drug related behaviour. The behaviour is repeated regardless of the consequences to the person’s life including their health, mental well-being, relationships, career or finances.  Before the addiction the person will feel tension or arousal before engaging in the behavioural addiction and will feel pleasure or relief while engaged in it. The pleasure and relief decreases as the habit becomes more of a compulsion and as the consequences become more of a reality. Over time the addiction increases as the person tries to get the high or relief they are craving.


Signs & Symptoms of Addictions


It’s not so easy to detect an addiction in the beginning. It’s hard to know if someone is addicted to something or if they are just going through a phase. Addiction only gets worse over time so it’s really important to pick on signs and symptoms of addiction as early as possible. People with addictions are very good at hiding it and protecting their secret.


The signs to look for in someone you suspect with an addiction include:


  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Changes in Sleep patterns
  • Withdrawing from familiar people
  • Isolation
  • Secretive behaviour
  • Lying
  • Money and financial issues
  • Sickness & Physical Pain
  • Disappearing without warning
  • Emotional roller coaster
  • Borrowing money off friends and family
  • Extending credit cards and debt
  • Being defensive
  • Losing track of time for significant period
  • Suicidal tendencies


10 Things You Need To Do If Someone You Love Has An Addiction


If someone you know has an addiction there are a few things that you need to know to help them and to help yourself: 

  • People with an addiction will rarely admit it. They are good storytellers so you need to see past the story to the reality.
  • Your help may not be wanted – at all. If the person with an addiction is in denial they will not want your help because they believe they don’t have a problem
  • They may react badly with anger or aggression at an accusation they may have an addiction.
  • If they do want your help you will be in for a long and challenging journey. You will need your own counselling or therapy to cope as you go through the journey with them. Once you get started as the support person you need to be there and commit 100%.
  • Ultimately only the person with the addiction is responsible for their recovery. You cannot do it for them. You need to let them be accountable for their actions and stick to the support role.
  • If you address this issue and the person with the addiction doesn’t want help, isn’t interested to hear what you have to or any other negative outcome you need to let it go. Don’t try and make something happen because it will only end badly. People are ready to change when they are ready. All you can do is offer your support.
  • Don’t stage an intervention unless you have professional guidance and help. Interventions are intense and can cause all sorts of abreactions.
  • Don’t tell everyone about it hoping to rally for support. Only speak with trusted people who can be useful to the person’s recovery. It’s not your business to tell everyone. If you need to talk about it, speak to a counsellor so that privacy and confidentiality are ensured.
  • The most important thing you need to know is you need to look after yourself. Loving someone with an addiction is very challenging and emotional. You need to take care of your health and enforce boundaries so you have some control of your own life.
  • Sometimes you need to walk away. If it gets too hard and it’s impacting your life to the point you can’t manage then maybe you need to walk away and take a break. It doesn’t mean you don’t love the person anymore it means you need to take care of you and nurture your own health. It can help the person with the addiction to understand that their actions don’t just effect them. It can give them time to heal too.



Treatment for Addiction


There are many ways to treat addiction it depends on what type of addiction it is, the intensity of the addiction and the symptoms it has caused.  There is no medication known to successfully stop a behavioural addiction. Medication can help with a substance addiction


The first step in addiction treatment is recognising there is an addiction and it is a problem. Without understanding the reality of the addiction the person remains in denial and treatment for addiction is not going to help someone who doesn’t believe they have a real problem.  Understanding that addiction is like a chronic illness or disease can explain why the addiction impacts so many areas of a person’s life. Like any chronic illness it limits a persons ability to move forward and life a full life and it also limits their partner or family who are also living with the “illness”.


Depending on the type of addiction treatment can inlude:


  • Medication
  • Hospitalisation
  • Rehabilitation Clinics
  • Group Therapy
  • Self Help Groups
  • 12 Step Programs
  • Clinical Hypnotherapy
  • Psychology
  • Psychiatry
  • Counselling
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy


Areas included in Addiction Treatment include:


  • Motivation
  • Self Esteem & Confidence
  • Communication Skills
  • Anger Management
  • Identifying abuse patterns of behaviours
  • Learning triggers for the addiction
  • Learning coping skills
  • Stress management
  • Planning and setting goals for achievement
  • Self control
  • Creating new strategies for positive outcomes


Clinical Hypnotherapy as An Addiction Treatment


clinical hypnotherapy for addiction treatment


Clinical hypnotherapy can help with:


  • Mood swings
  • Withdrawal symptoms and cravings
  • Reprogramming behaviour patterns
  • Reprogramming strategies used for the addiction
  • Changing emotions
  • Letting go of traumatic memories
  • Letting go of emotional baggage
  • Changing patterns and emotions of anxiety and depression
  • Reprogramming & replacing the adrenalin high of the addiction
  • Gaining self control
  • Improving self esteem
  • Anger management
  • Stress Management


Many addictions can be treated with clinical hypnotherapy working with the unconscious mind because that’s where the automatic behaviour strategy is stored. This is only useful if the person with the addiction is the one making the call for the appointment or to learn more about how this style of therapy can help the addiction they have.


Important Note On The Success Of Any Therapy


Whoever makes the phone call to the doctor or the therapist is the client. That means whoever makes the call is the one ready for the change they are enquiring about and they are the ones who are most invested in the outcome. It’s the same as whoever pays for the treatment is the one who has skin in the game. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay for someone to have therapy because chances are the person with the addiction won’t be able to afford it.


In order for the therapy to be a success you need to make sure something is in place for the person with the addiction to pay you back or do something for you in return for the money. Otherwise they have nothing to lose so what level of commitment do you think they will have towards change?


What To Do Next


If you’re living with someone who has an addiction and you need some help you can book a counselling appointment online: Make An Appointment


If you have an addiction and want to know if clinical hypnotherapy can help you then Book An Appointment Online or click the button below and send me an email with your details and I will assess if clinical hypnotherapy can help you.
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