Drug, Alcohol and Other Addictions
Most people at some time in their lives will use a temporarily pleasurable substance or activity to feel good. These pleasurable substances can include: alcohol, cigarettes, prescription drugs, illicit drugs, caffeine and food (particularly high sugar foods). Temporarily pleasurable activities can include: gambling, shopping, and sex.
Often people maintain control over these substances and activities, indulging in them only occasionally and with minimal negative impact on the rest of their lives. However, over time some people develop an addiction where their use of these substances or activities begins to have significant negative impact on their work capacity, relationships, finances, self-esteem, physical and mental health.
When people become addicted, they typically spend a lot of time thinking about and engaging in their particular pursuit so that other parts of their life are given a lower priority. For some people, on a psychological or physical level, they get so used to functioning with the aid of the addictive substance or activity that they develop what seems like a compulsive need for it.
- Some things that can contribute to addiction are:
- Stressful life events or persistent difficult circumstances.
- Difficult personal relationships.
- Hurtful / traumatic experiences from the past.
- An underlying medical or mental health disorder.
- Difficulty with tolerating or regulating uncomfortable emotions.
Most people find it difficult to overcome an addiction using their willpower alone. There is a strong body of evidence that psychological therapy can help people with addictions regain control of their lives.