Addictions

Working together on outcomes.

What are Addictions?

Addictions are powerful cravings to use substances or engage in certain activities despite their harmful consequences to either yourself or others. Addiction causes a chronic dysfunction of the brain, leading to a psychological dependence. Over time, this can have serious repercussions for daily life, and for those around you.
Addiction can involve a wide variety of substances and behaviours. The most serious dependencies are alcohol and drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, opiates, amphetamines, barbiturates and benzodiazepines. The most common addictions include nicotine, caffeine and gambling.

What are the Patterns of Addictive Behaviour?

Many signs of addictions relate to a lack of self-control and impaired ability. Consequently, individuals who have an addiction will not stop their behaviour, even if they recognise that it is causing problems. Some of the key patterns of behaviour associated with addictions include:

Being dismissive that their behaviour is causing problems at home or work

Becoming secretive and withdrawn emotionally

Seeking out situations where they can indulge in their compulsive behaviour

Unsuccessful attempts to quit

Loss of control

Health conditions, such as memory loss or insomnia

What Causes Addictions

Changes in Brain Chemistry

A common misconception is that addictions are a moral choice and that with willpower the behaviour can be stopped. Contemporary research has shown that addiction changes the chemistry of the brain, hijacking the pleasure/reward circuits so that we crave more.

Addictive behaviours flood the brain with dopamine (a chemical messenger that interprets how we feel pleasure). The brain then cannot cope with the large amounts of dopamine it receives. It responds by producing less dopamine, which means that to receive the same amount of pleasure, we need to do the addictive behaviour more often.

Eventually, the craving is no more than a compulsion as the pleasure associated with a particular drug or behaviour diminishes. However, the memory of the desired effect and the desire to recreate it stays strong. The environmental cues associated with the behaviour are stored in the brain and readily invoke an intense craving when triggered.

Triggers are emotional responses to things associated with addictions. They can either be an event, person, place or something as innocuous as the clink of ice cubes in a glass, but they can set off biochemical changes in the brain that strongly influence addictive behaviour.

Other Factors

There is no simple explanation for what causes an individual to have addictions, and several factors may contribute to the development of a dependency—whether they are physical or mental. However, some people have a greater likelihood of developing an addiction than others. Genetics plays an important role, as do a complex combination of social, psychological, biological and spiritual factors, including:

• Environment – Peer pressure or exposure to normalising behaviour among others. For example, those who grow up around drugs and alcohol are more likely to become users
• Mental Health – Individuals coping with anxiety, depression and other mood disorders are more likely to adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms as a means of self-medication
• How a substance is Consumed – Injecting drugs produces a greater dopamine rush, so a user is more likely to become dependent on it
• Substance Potency – Some drugs are more addictive than others

How Addictions are Treated?

Addictions are treatable, and the most important first step is to seek help. Direct Focus Solutions offer a multidisciplinary approach to addiction therapy, led by a team of fully accredited and expert health professionals in psychology, occupational therapy, nursing and more.

With a holistic, patient-centred perspective, our therapies will determine the root cause of your issues. Our experts will work with you to help you take charge of your health and create a happier, healthy life for yourself. By placing you at the heart of your addiction treatment path, you will benefit from a tailor-made package of professional care that will produce the best possible outcome for you.

Our focus is on using a variety of strategies to help you overcome your dependency. These include psychology, psychotherapy and counselling services that help to coordinate your mind, body and spirit to provide the best possible plan to kickstart you on the road to overcoming addiction.

We offer a variety of programs that support addiction recovery therapies. These may help you improve in areas such as dealing with physical symptoms, by boosting your recovery with a healthy diet and exercise regime.

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy; I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”

Art Williams

Contact Us

Look forward to a better life without addictions and get in touch with us. Find out how we can help and book an appointment at one of our of clinics in Sydney or the Illawarra. Alternatively, book a Telehealth appointment where you can meet our professionals remotely from the comfort of your own home.

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