With any subject that is at times controversial and often misunderstood, there are always rumours, myths and half-truths circling around the whole concept. Addiction is no different.
Because many people really don’t understand the disease, they only see the destruction and devastation caused. They cannot comprehend why anyone would willingly do that damage to themselves or to their loved ones, which leads to incorrect misconceptions and harsh judgements.
Here we aim to set straight just a few of the myths that surround addiction.
Addiction is NOT a choice. No one would choose to be an addict, it is painful, miserable, lonely, and debilitating.
Addiction is a serious mental health disorder that can happen to anyone, irrespective of age, class, ethnicity, or gender. It is characterised as not having control over the use of a substance or the participation in an activity to the point where it could be harmful or dangerous to you or those around you.
Certain individuals are more predisposed to addiction than others. This could be because of a family history of addiction or underlying mental health problems. Those who have suffered from trauma and abuse, or persons who are isolated and without a support network, may turn to substances or behaviour as a coping mechanism. The more risk factors a person has, the higher the chance of developing a mental health condition such as alcoholism, drug and process addiction, depression, or anxiety.
Many people believe that those suffering from addiction do so because of low moral principles or the lack of willpower to stop, and if they simply; tried harder; grew up a bit; or cared more for the people around them; that they wouldn’t need to use drugs, alcohol or a behaviour. The reality is addiction is complicated and multifaceted.
After time addiction will change the way, the brain’s reward system works, meaning an individual will struggle to get a natural “high”, or dopamine release, from normal everyday things like food, intimacy, and laughter. They will also require ever-increasing amounts of their preferred substance or activity as a tolerance builds, and will continue to use more and more, despite the negative consequences. Eventually, they will be using it compulsively just to feel a sense of relief.
Several substances (including alcohol, opioids, barbiturates, benzodiazepine) are not only psychologically addictive but also physically. Meaning if a person stops taking them abruptly, their body will suffer withdrawal symptoms such as vomiting, anxiety, sweating, tremors, and diarrhoea. These symptoms can be mild, or in some cases serious, and even fatal if not managed correctly.
Often addicts want to stop using, they don’t want to be hurting themselves or those around them. But between their head telling them, they need to use just to gain a sense of relief and their bodies physically demanding the substance, they have no control and feel that there is no way out of the vicious cycle. They need outside help and in some cases, a professional medical detox.
We’d all like to think that we know the people in our lives so well, nothing they do could surprise us. To a point, this is true; most of us would realise that there was a problem of some type. The effects of addiction are far-reaching, and it impacts upon the whole family, as it influences relationships, health, finances, and family dynamics.
However, addicts can be conniving, manipulative, secretive and simply downright horrible to get what they want. They will lie and deny until they are blue in the face, making you doubt your own sanity rather than admit they have a problem.
We can be in denial of what is happening to someone we love, what their behaviour is doing to us and the family around them. We use denial to protect ourselves from the harsh truth. Sometimes it is easier to pretend everything is okay, to continue to enable the addict in their use, than to make a stand, have a confrontation, or insist upon things changing and the individual getting help.
Some individuals believe that because they continue to have a successful career, plenty of money, a nice house, make sure the children are looked after, get them to school on time, only drink at weekends or in the evenings; that they don’t have a problem. And maybe they don’t.
But if your alcohol and drug use; or your gambling, internet, or shopping addiction; feels like it is out of control. If you have tried to stop or cut down and found that you couldn’t. If it is making you, or the people around you unhappy. Then these are all signs that there could be an issue that needs addressing.
Many people live in denial of the true state of their using, and the effect it is having on them both physically and emotionally. This is mainly because of fear and shame. There is still a perceived stigma that surrounds addiction, that it can only happen to “bad” people, or those of low moral fibre. Again, this is simply not the case, addiction can affect anyone, from any background, at any time.
Again, not true! Addiction is a disease that requires treatment, without which things almost never get any better, they will only get steadily and progressively worse. However, there is lots of help available, and with a recovery program; which can include day or residential rehab, fellowship meetings, therapy; and the right support network, addicts can and regularly do, live a full, happy, and successful life free from their addiction.
Some of the options that are available to treat all types of addictions (process and substance) include –
• Talk therapy and counselling
Used independently or in conjunction with other treatment methods, counselling and talk therapy have proved hugely successful when dealing with all types of mental health issues, which often leave sufferers isolated and lonely. Giving someone a safe space to connect and talk about their feelings, whether it is in a group or on a one-to-one basis, is a key factor in resolving any underlying emotional problems.
• Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
TMS is a non-invasive form of brain stimulation therapy that has proved effective in the treatment of depression, anxiety, substance and compulsive addiction. TMS treatment is performed in outpatient clinics and rehabilitation centres. There are minimal side effects, and patients function normally immediately following each session.
• Equine-facilitated therapy
In equine-assisted therapy, looking after the horses encourages growth. It helps build trust, confidence, and self-control and individuals learn about responsibility, boundaries and how to focus. At the same time, the equine psychotherapist can assess a client’s state of mind and well-being through their interaction with the animal and how the horse responds.
• Daycare and drop-in clinics
Daycare courses and outpatient drop-in centres provide a protected and secure environment for many to attend weekly or daily counselling sessions and enable participation in peer group fellowship meetings.
• Residential rehab
Residential rehab is a good way for someone suffering from an addiction or disorder to get away from their daily life and all the distractions that go with it, giving them time to focus fully on their recovery. A well-established private rehab centre, or specialised addiction clinic will use a combination of therapy models to treat an individual’s primary and co-occurring conditions.
Here at our luxury residential rehabilitation centre, set on the beautiful Spanish island of Ibiza, we have a highly qualified team experienced in a range of therapies for the treatment of process and substance addiction. We also treat anxiety, depression, trauma, and other conditions affecting mental health.
For any information about the rehab centre, including details on admissions, please contact [email protected]
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