“Addiction is like doing something that you know will really harm you and only just scraping through. It’s like touching a flame. While most people would never do it again because it was horrible, you not only forget, you want to do it again and you can’t wait or even explain why.”
That is how one Liberty House client described addiction and it really shows the helplessness that the condition can cause. Addiction can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background and comes in many forms from substances to behaviours or habits that take over your life.
Addiction is a serious condition and if you or someone you know is suffering, it is crucial that you seek addiction help immediately so that you can start afresh.
Addiction is characterised by an inability to control your use of a substance or activity, despite the harmful consequences. It is a complex condition that can cause serious physical, mental, psychological and emotional problems. Despite common misconceptions, addiction is not a choice or a weakness but is a multi-faceted disorder with diverse and varying underlying causes and harmful symptoms. There are two elements to addiction: physical and psychological.
Certain substances are physically addictive, meaning that your body becomes dependent on you taking them in order to feel like you are functioning normally. This can happen because the substance alters your brain chemistry, resulting in imbalances that can only be corrected by continued use of the substance or by stopping and giving your body the chance to recover through abstinence. These imbalances are what lead to cravings and withdrawal when you try to quit as your body is no longer able to function without the substance.
Often, substances or behaviours are relied on to boost a person’s confidence, keep them calm or repress underlying trauma. This psychological component of addiction, accompanied by physical reliance, is what makes it so difficult to break free from addiction.
Classified as the third leading preventable cause of death in the UK, alcohol addiction is a serious condition which can cause adverse effects on both mental and physical wellbeing.
Drugs can be highly addictive, with some individuals becoming totally reliant on them just to function in everyday life. If not properly managed, drug addiction can lead to dangerous consequences.
Addiction comes in many forms, and it is even possible for individuals to become dependent on behaviours. Gambling, shopping and sex are all classed as behavioural addictions.
While prescription drugs are administered by doctors in medical settings, they still carry a highly addictive potential. In fact, some prescription medications can contain chemicals found in illegal drugs like heroin and amphetamines.
In fact, any substance or activity that provides a ‘high’ or consistently produces pleasurable results, relieves stress or has certain chemical effects on your brain or body can potentially become addictive. Over 275,000 people needed support for substance abuse disorder in 2021 in the UK with many more also treated for behavioural addictions which shows the extent of the issue.
While addiction can affect anyone, there are certain risk factors that can make some people more susceptible to developing an addiction. These include:
One thing that is very important to understand is that addiction will do everything in its power to
convince you that you do not have a problem, and it is able to hijack the part of your brain responsible for logical thinking and decision-making.
This can make it difficult to see the situation clearly and make decisions that are in your best interest. To help you see through the fog of addiction, here are some questions to ask yourself that may show you need help:
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s possible that you may have an addiction and should seek professional help. Addiction is a treatable condition, and there are many resources available to help you recover but the sooner you get started, the better your chances of recovery from addiction.
Addiction and substance abuse disorder can have a variety of dangerous consequences, both for you and for those around you. In terms of health, addiction to various substances can cause immense harm and, in some cases, can even lead to death.
One of the most dangerous aspects of addiction is its ability to take over your life. You may find it difficult to maintain healthy relationships or keep up with your responsibilities at work or home. As your addiction progresses, you may start to lose interest in activities that you used to enjoy and may withdraw from friends and family.
Addiction can also lead to financial problems, as you start spending all your money fuelling your substance abuse disorder or addictive behaviours.
You may also engage in risky behaviours such as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or sharing needles. These behaviours can put both you and others at risk.
It can be difficult to watch a loved one struggle with addiction. However, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of addiction so that you can provide support and assistance as soon as possible. Here are some of the most common signs of addiction to look out for in your loved ones.
If you notice any of these changes in your loved one, it’s important to have a conversation with them about what is going on and offer your support.
There are three main stages of recovery: