How would I know if I am addicted to something?
My family think I have a problem, how would I know?
These are often questions that are raised in treatment and often require deeper processing to understand how a behaviour is developed and how it can affect our life.
Addiction is typically defined when an individual will repeatedly engage in behaviours such as drug use, gambling, pornography and drinking, despite experiencing problematic and damaging consequences for their behaviour (e.g. relationship breakdowns, mental/physical health issues, job loss etc).
"How would I know if I am addicted to something?"
In my work, I have typically seen two principles that determine why people engage in behaviour (1) people will engage in a behaviour (drinking, sex, drugs, pornography, social media) to increase a positive event (e.g. positive feelings, connection to others, confidence) and (2) decreasing a negative event (e.g. negative feeling like anxiety, stress, trauma etc.). For most people, these two rules work in harmony and rarely cause any issues. However, our behaviour can be strongly reinforced via immediate reward and instant gratification, which can in-turn strengthen problematic and lead to addictive behaviour.
"My family think I have a problem, how would I know?"
In my practice, there is a “no one size fits all” therapeutic approach. Rather I believe an integrated and holistic approach to treating addictions has its benefits. I am of the view that building a strong therapeutic rapport with my clients is a powerful ingredient in building a successful outcome for my clients. Adding to this, is an effecting assessment and case conceptualisation in addition to using an integrated therapeutic approach. For instance, combining Motivational Interviewing techniques with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy are typically best practice methods for treating addictions. However, some clients may prefer group therapy and/or require residential treatment programs if their behaviour has significantly affected their lives.
"Often addiction is the result of deeper core issues"
Often addiction is the result of deeper core issues (e.g. trauma, abuse, violence, neglect and even extreme success) that may have occurred earlier in life or can be a result of current day stressors or traumatic situations. Seeking help is not easy and may require multiple attempts, however I believe it is a sign of inner strength and can be liberating and effective for clients in their pursuit to happiness and resilience.
Psychologist – Andrew Meyer