In very simple terms, addiction is experiencing a strong urge or craving which feels beyond your control to resist. Even if your rational thoughts tell you whatever you are craving will damage yourself, relationships or finances; if you cannot have or do what you are craving you often feel anxious, irritable or depressed.
You feel you need whatever you are addicted to because when you first experienced it, it probably changed the way you were feeling in what seemed a positive way. It gave enjoyment or a sense of escape from things that bothered you.
If you are able to keep a balance in how often you do even potentially addictive things, you may not develop problems. If you are addicted you have lost balance and crave more and more of what gives you the experience you feel you need.
With a drug, alcohol, nicotine or caffeine addiction you might become dependent on these things because a chemical or substance changes the way you feel by lifting your mood or making you feel relaxed. You may then crave more of what gives you that feeling and feel low or stressed without it.
You can develop an addiction to behaviors that change the way you feel too. For example, spending time on the internet, watching porn, gambling, video gaming, over-exercising or overworking can give you a sense of escape from the world as the activities can block out thoughts and feelings that bother you. This experience can become addictive too if you then crave too much escape.
If you are trying to work out if you have an addiction problem you sometimes compare yourself with the worst stories you have heard about ‘addicts’ and imagine you must reach ‘rock bottom’ to take things seriously and seek support.
If you are at all concerned that you may have an addiction problem that is a good enough reason to seek advice or support.
One way of working out whether you are doing something at a healthy or an addictive level is to be very honest with yourself about whether whatever you are concerned about is causing problems in your own life.
Remember it is possible to let go of any form of addiction and much easier with support.
Online advice, support and information and counseling can be very valuable in many cases. If you have a long term addiction problem, are addicted to drugs or alcohol, your problem involves cutting or physically harming yourself or you are aware that your addiction has been triggered by traumatic life events it may be advisable to seek face to face counseling from a specialist agency.
Liz Karter – Therapist at Level Ground Therapy
About the author
Liz Karter is founder and therapist at Level Ground Therapy, a counseling service established especially for women who have a problem with addiction. Level Ground Therapy understands that women often have particular and sometimes sensitive reasons for their addiction problem and offers counseling and therapy which meets their individual needs. Although specializing in problem gambling, Liz offers her considerable experience and specialist knowledge of addiction and its related issues to women affected by any form of addiction. Level Ground also offers group therapy for women and counseling to couples who find an addiction problem is affecting their relationship.
Liz is a leading psychotherapist specializing in the area of women and gambling. Since 2001 she has provided treatment to both male and female problem gamblers working with the leading agencies in the UK as well as in private practice. Liz established and is a therapist for the first therapeutic groups specifically for female problem gamblers.
Liz’s work has featured on BBC TV’s ‘Missing Live,’ ITV’s ‘This Morning’ Radio 4 ’Woman’s Hour’ Radio 4 ‘ You and Yours’ as well as several local radio programs. Newspaper interviews have included ‘The Observer’ ‘The Mirror’ and ‘Racing Post’.
Liz is a regular conference speaker and has written papers on the subject of women and problem gambling.
For more information about Liz and Level Ground visit www.levelgroundtherapy.com