Thrive Boston Addiction Counseling
Your Addiction Doesn't Have to be in Control
When people are levelheaded and content, we often refer to them as "balanced." When that equilibrium is compromised by one or several areas of a person's life becoming more important than even their wellbeing, we call that anaddiction.
Portraits of Addiction
When Cathy was a girl, she often had problems with the other kids at school being mean to her for inexplicable reasons. Her parents would try to coach her by explaining that her getting visibly upset by their teasing only makes them tease her more. It was difficult for her to comprehend what they meant by that, but she always felt better when her mom would take her shopping to cheer her up.
Now, Cathy is in her mid-30s, and her association with trying times and shopping has progressed to the point where she now works two jobs to try to keep the credit card companies from hounding her. She's embarrassed by her habit and by the debt she's been accumulating, but that didn't stopped her from buying a new car last week when her boyfriend moved out.
Stephen began drinking as a way to calm the anxiety he experiences during his shifts as a cable salesman. At first, he reserved his intake to the weekends, but started realizing he could sneak drinks here and there while out doing home installations. Now, he starts his day off with whiskey in his coffee, and doesn't usually stop until he passes out at the end of the night. While on the job, he often makes simple mistakes. It's sometimes clear to customers that he's intoxicated.
Addiction Counseling: Key Definitions and Concepts
Addiction is dependence on a substance - such as alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs and illicit narcotics - or an activity (e.g. shopping, sex, gambling and spending time online). Sometimes addictions cause physical dependencies, and other times those dependencies are psychological (or a combination of the two), but regardless of the type they run the risk of overshadowing the rest of your life.
Addictions are repeat behaviors that become almost impossible to control, and can lead to other types of harmful (if not illegal) behavior. What was once a method for coping with everyday life has become the filter through which all other elements of life are either tolerated or discarded. The so-called "benefits" of the addiction diminish as tolerance increases, but that doesn't stop the person from pursuing the addiction, no matter how negative the consequences.
Oftentimes, an addict will blame a dependency on a bad relationship, a stressful office environment, inattentive parents or the overall "unfairness" of life. Addicts never really admit that the addiction is something they chose for themselves, however subtle and eventual the decision may have been.
The months or years of living out the addiction can not only increase the person's tolerance of a substance or frequency in the behavior, but it can also instigate changes in body chemistry, leading to a reliance on the drug to just be able to function.
Whether a particular addiction is behavioral or substance-related, it often begins as an experiment - a high-profile business associate offers you some cocaine at a party or you start playing poker online. If the new experience is enjoyable, it's possible that you'll return to it, again and again, and you're hooked before you even have time to admit it to yourself.
Sometimes addictions arise as a means of coping with or covering up some other problem like anxiety, depression or even another addiction. There may be some relief, sure, but the problems are really only becoming increasingly complicated.
Despite the deepening dependency, addicts can continue to lie to themselves about their ability to quit "whenever they want," but the very nature of an addiction is that it's incredibly difficult to break.Key characteristics of addiction include:
- Behaviors or substance use to reduce anxiety
- Obsessions over a behavior or substance
- Guilt and shame
- Negative consequences to self or others
- Failure to control actions
- Patterns of uncontrollable behaviors
- Substance use for a year or more
- Increasing patterns of behavior or substance use over time
- Mood swings
- Feelings of self-worthlessness or shame
- Impulse control problems - with food, drugs, sex or money
- Strong needs to be liked or approved of
Action Steps for Overcoming Addiction
If you know someone who is struggling with an addiction, you're likely highly concerned for their wellbeing - or even your own. Addiction affects more than just the addicted. If an addict has children, for example, there is a chance that supporting the addiction might come before ensuring their safety.
If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, the best thing you can do is to acknowledge the issue, so you can begin to take the necessary steps to prevent serious or even fatal harm.
Step 1: Prevent driving under the influence
If someone you know has been known to drive while somehow impaired, it's best to figure out a way to stop the behavior immediately - especially if that person sometimes has other people in the vehicle. Know that no life is worth more than a cab fare. And if cost is a factor, offer to drive him or her yourself.
Step 2: Encourage a medical exam
A medical doctor will be able to help determine any current physical damage that has been caused by the addiction. This both serves as a way to awakening yourself or the person you care about regarding the realities of the addiction's effects and to reveal potential treatments.
Step 3: Find a Replacement
People find it easier to break an addiction when there is some sort of replacement involved, instead of an absence. This could even be done subtlety, and with enjoyable activities. Go for a bike ride. Ask the person to go to a movie. Enroll in a class.
Schedule an Appointment with Thrive Boston Addiction Counseling
The professionals at Thrive Boston Addiction Counseling have been featured in major news outlets such as Psychology Today, The Boston Globe, CNN and Mashable.
When you call our office, you will speak to a person, not an answering machine, who will set you up with an appointment for the same week, if not within 24 hours. We also accept most major insurance providers.
Your addiction does not have to rule your life. You can still make a change and find far greater enjoyment than your dependencies ever provided.