You may choose to call it a craving, a fancy, a bit of a dependence but the truth is that anyone who becomes overly drawn to, or obsessed by any activity – whether drinking alcohol, taking drugs, over- or under-eating, shopping, gambling, sex or even doing good deeds – is trying to fill a void or block out something that is missing in their lives.
We’re much more likely to get caught up in addiction when important needs cease to be met, perhaps because of loss, caused by the death of someone close, a relationship ending, redundancy or illness, or by dissatisfaction arising from boredom or feeling trapped.
Sometimes such circumstances lead first to depression and then to addiction. Whatever the activity, it’s often an attempt at solving, or removing (temporarily, at least) a problem. However, anyone caught up in addiction will intuitively know that it’s a fool’s gold. The experience ceased to deliver on its promises a long time ago. An activity that once appeared enabling (e.g. a means of reward, connecting with others, or decompressing from stressful events) has now become disabling, giving rise to distress and concern at the power that it currently holds over your choices and subsequent freedom.
- Understand what causes and fuels addictive behaviour
- Isolate destructive impulses that keep you locked in on autopilot
- Ensure important emotional needs are constructively met
- Develop new expectations for your life and the future
- Find pleasure and fulfilment in new and meaningful ways
- Develop practical skills for dealing with withdrawal symptoms
- Learn to deal with stress or temptations that might lie ahead
- Have a solid plan for relapse prevention