Addictions often develop from what are seen as acceptable social habits such as drinking alcohol, eating or gambling. But when a person becomes addicted, these harmless activities become destructive with the need to repeat these behaviours excessively. Addictions may come from the way these habits or activities make us feel emotionally and physically.
People who have an addiction are often not aware or don’t want to admit that they have a problem. The habit or activity itself may bring pleasure for a time and it is this sense of pleasure that can create the need to repeat the activity and replicate this feeling of pleasure. An addiction essentially is when a habit has got out of control and the person is dependent on their habit just to get through the day. Instead of being a pleasurable activity, the habit becomes a compulsion that cannot be controlled.
Addictions can start as a reaction to another issue, a difficult period in a person’s life. It is not uncommon following a bereavement, job loss or other traumatic incident for a person to start for example drinking more alcohol, perhaps to escape from a painful reality. Addictions can be hard to spot and may only come to light when they cause major consequences in a person’s life. Someone struggling with an addiction may have low self-esteem, feel guilt and exhibit frequent mood swings. They may also be very secretive about their addiction and hide it from those closest to them for years.
People may be able to break the habit on their own but often it can take time and support either from friends and family or professionals. Counselling can help the person to understand where the addiction stems from and how both to break the habit and prevent it from happening again. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in particular can be useful in helping the person understand their behaviour and the causes behind it and finding ways in which they can make positive changes.
There are a number of organisations that can provide advice and support if you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction: