Gary was a successful business owner, devoted father, loving husband, and addict. For years, he has struggled with an alcohol and drug addiction. Gary’s family and friends wonder why he cannot choose to stop. If he made the decision to start, wouldn’t the decision to stop make everything better? After an intensive 90-day in-patient rehab, Gary and his family are beginning to understand. Addiction is not a choice, but it is a disease. Addiction changes an individual’s brain chemistry, and just as serious diseases, like cancer, need a physician’s treatment, so does addiction. With therapy and counseling, many addicts and their families can find the treatment they need.
“Since beginning my work in areas like addiction, for example, I have seen time and time again that the roots of poor mental health in adulthood are almost always present in unresolved childhood challenges.” —Kate Middleton
Many people associate addiction with drugs and alcohol, but people can become addiction to many substances and activities. Alcohol. Cocaine. Prescription drugs. Marijuana. Gambling. Internet. Sex. Video Games. These are only a few of the ways that addiction can entrap people. People who have an addiction do not lack willpower and they are not weak. They need help, support, and treatment.
The counselors and therapists at Thriveworks Counseling in Somerville, VA understand the treatment options available for addiction. We have helped many people find the tools they need to reclaim their lives from this disease.
Signs and Symptoms of an Addiction
When people have trouble regulating their impulses regarding a certain action or the consumption of a certain substance, they may have an addiction. These people may task personal and social risks, putting their well-being or their loved ones’ well-being at risk in order to obtain the substance or engage in the activity. Even when people experience negative economic, social, and/or health consequences, they may continue with the addiction.
These behaviors may be red-flags that someone is struggling with an addiction:
- Craving the activity of substance.
- Developing a tolerance for the activity’s or substance’s effects.
- Wanting to stop but being unable.
- Lying about the substance use or activity.
- Experiencing moodiness or irritability while not consuming the substance or participating in the activity.
Risk Factors for Addiction
Why do some people form an addiction and others do not? That are a variety of factors that can raise an individual’s risk for addiction. People’s genetics play a big factor, but so do life circumstances. Often, addictions can form for unique, personal, and sensitive reasons. Speaking generally, many addictions form through peer pressure and emotional numbing.
- Peer pressure: Peer pressure can be one of the many reasons people engage in an activity or use a substance that escalates to an addiction. For example, many of the teens who are addicted to drugs or alcohol were first introduced to these substances through a friendship. Many adults can say the same.
- Emotional Numbing: The pain of abuse and hardship can leave people looking for answers—whether those answers bring healing or not. Addiction offers the false promise of healing. Difficult emotions such as shame, fear, loneliness, boredom, and anger can make people vulnerable to the lies of addiction.
The Many Forms of Addiction
Addictions come in a variety of shapes, degrees, and sizes. In general, there are two types: those that involve a substance (alcohol, drugs, food) and those that involve an activity (Internet, gambling, sex, shopping). Each type changes the brain’s structure.
Shopping or spending addiction is a behavior-based addiction. People experience intense pleasure when shopping or spending money, so much so that their brain releases dopamine and endorphins—the pleasure hormones. People who have a shopping addiction crave the experience of spending money and its release of hormones. The support group, Shopaholics Anonymous, categorizes different types of shopping addictions. Some find pleasure in finding the perfect object—often a symbol of wealth or prosperity. Others want the accomplishment of finding the bargain. Some shopping addictions mimic bulimia—a cycle of over spending followed by the return of those items. Others collect a certain item. The common denominator amidst this variety is that shopaholics spend compulsively, and they often are experiencing deep emotional pain.
Food addiction resembles alcohol or drug addiction. Just as cocaine and opioids release reward and pleasure within an individual’s brain, so does food. When foods are rich in added sugar, fat, and salt, they can release even more dopamine in people’s brains. These food train people’s brains to crave them, even when people are not hungry or do not need that particular kind of food. The brain’s pleasure signals override other signals like satiety and contentment. Food addicts can lose control of what they eat and when they eat. They often dedicate significant resources of time and money toward eating.
Appointments at Thriveworks Counseling in Somerville, MA for Addiction Help
Did you recognize anything that you read about? If you or someone you love is engaging in compulsive behavior, it may be time to reach out for help. Consider scheduling an appointment for therapy or counseling at Thriveworks in Somerville. Our professionals have extensive experiencing working with addicts, helping them find the resources and healing that they need.
When you contact Thriveworks Counseling in Somerville, know that we may accept your insurance. We work with many different insurance companies. New clients often have their first appointment within 24 hours of their call to our office, and weekend and evening sessions are available.
Treatment options are available. Call Thriveworks in Somerville today.