What are Addictions?

People can become addicted to many different things, such as substances (e.g., alcohol, drugs, caffeine, nicotine) as well as activities (e.g., shopping, gambling, video games, porn, sex).  While initially pleasurable, something becomes an addiction when it becomes harmful in some way. Examples of harm can be lings like: damage to one’s physical, emotional, or financial health, inability to perform necessary duties like go to work or take care of children, no time or energy left for relationships, or exposure to danger or problems with the law, such as driving while impaired. It can often be difficult to notice harm, as the effects can creep up overtime. For example, while smoking is known to cause lung cancer, this consequence is not immediate, therefore it becomes easy to think “this won’t happen to me”.  Since the pleasure is immediate, while the damaging effects may not be, people often have low motivation when it comes to giving up unhealthy habits.

Additionally, people with an addiction are often reluctant to give up the activity because it provides joy, meaning, excitement, fun, or relaxation, or it allows them to escape from negative feelings such as boredom, anger, or loneliness. Unfortunately, addictive behaviour often negatively impacts loved ones.  For example, a teenager who plays video games might not see it as a problem, but the parents might be concerned if they are sick of paying for everything and want their teen to get a job.  At the other end of the spectrum, is when addictive behaviours are supported by the people in one’s social circle. For example, if all your friends drink or take drugs together, it can be especially hard to quit, due to the potential social ramifications of doing so.

Why seek treatment for an Addiction?

Overcoming an addiction can often be hard to do on your own, especially if you have low motivation to give up something that you enjoy. Working with a therapist can enhance your own internal motivation, by helping you to identify your own powerful reasons for change, and to help you plan manageable ways to move forward. Another reason to seek help is that addictions tend to get worse overtime if left untreated, and the damaging effects can also accumulate over time. Finally, having an addition can chip away at your self-esteem, and cause problems to your health, finances, and relationships. Ultimately, the choice is yours. If you decide you might like help for an addiction, please contact us, we’d be happy to help.

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