Addiction

Addiction

The clinical psychologists at Solstice – Mind Matters can provide a number of psychotherapy solutions to individuals with addiction problems.

 

Information about the disorder:

Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g. alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g. gambling) that can be pleasurable, but the continued use of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities (work, relationships etc.), and effects their health and well-being. Addicted individuals may not be aware that their behaviour is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others. Typical signs of addiction include impaired control over substances or behaviour, preoccupation with substance or behaviour, continued use despite consequences, and denial.

According to current neurophysiological model, addiction begins with the basic pleasure and reward circuits in the brain, which involve the chemical dopamine. These reward centres are normally activated during pleasurable acts such as eating. However, if an ingested substance or certain behaviour causes these reward circuits to activate, addiction and dependence is possible.

The terms addiction, dependence and tolerance are often confused. Briefly, addiction is defined by aberrant changes in behaviour, physical dependence is defined by the development of withdrawal symptoms when the substance is discontinued, and tolerance is a physiological state characterised by a decrease in the effects of a substance with chronic use.

People with addictions often cannot quit on their own. Therefore, addiction is an illness and requires treatment which may include counselling, behavioural therapies, self-help groups or medical treatment.