Habits and Addiction

Habits and Addictions

What is a habit compared to an addiction?  There are good habits as well as bad. Cleaning our teeth in the morning and before bedtime is a good daily habit.  However, smoking is a bad habit because it can lead to cancer and other types of serious illness that could cause premature death. People become addicted to tobacco, gambling, alcohol, and drugs; including those drugs that are prescribed by a doctor. Others addictions include eating too many unhealthy foods and consuming fizzy drinks that pile on the pounds. Being obese can cause a stroke, heart attack, and depression.

How does the habit become an addiction?

Alcohol addiction

Alcohol is a good example.  When the person who has started drinking continues to consume alcohol daily, the need to feel at the point where that ‘good feeling’ kicks in, is when the amount of alcohol needs to be increased.  For example, one month ago two shots of whiskey or two glasses of wine were enough to satisfy that feeling, now it does not.   At the beginning, it was a drink after work.  However, a few months down the road the craving for a drink could be early afternoon as the drinking continues.   In some cases, it will be getting up in the morning and having a drink instead of coffee or tea.   Once this stage has been reached, the drinker would probably have lost their job and could have become separated or divorced from their spouse or partner.  Other areas of their life will be badly affected. There will come a time when there will be no money to buy the drink.

It is the same with drugs when someone decides to try a line of heroin and feels brilliant, they think they can handle anything and do anything until it wears off!  Gradually that person will not be able to live without their daily fix. This applies to all forms of drugs.  Taking drugs is a dangerous path to walk.  Drugs cost a lot of money and should someone start to owe the supplier money, it can progress to violence.

These addictions can have serious health problems and can lead to premature death just like smoking can. The difference between the alcoholic and the smoker is the smoker can function normally enough to keep their job and other areas of their life intact.

How to deal with an addiction

The need to admit there is a problem is the first step. The second step of recovery for those dependent on alcohol is to go and see their doctor.   The doctor will suggest going to a local AA group meeting and in some cases, medication will be prescribed.  The doctor will decide if a detoxification programme is necessary to gradually help the patient withdraw from the symptoms of the addiction.

The smoker can use the free NHS Smoke-Free site and other aids such as patches and inhalers to reduce cravings.

In the case of drug abuse, the doctor will conclude how serious the addiction is and will either administer treatment at the surgery or refer the person to a local drug treatment service.

Note:  Stop drinking alcohol and drugs altogether could cause serious problems, your doctor will advise, usually this is done by gradual withdrawal.  

The Use of CBT as an Alternative Form of Treatment

A therapist would use CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) to help someone who is alcohol/drug/tobacco dependent. This means the person with the therapist would identify how their problematic thoughts, feelings, and behavior link together to keep their alcohol/drug/tobacco problem alive. CBT helps to contest negative thoughts and beliefs.

The use of CBT for alcohol/drug/smoking dependence looks into how a person’s thoughts influence their mood and behavior.  It will make a person more aware of how the role of their thoughts affects their behavior.  This can help someone to start changing those bad behaviors that are self-destructing.

The CBT sessions require the client and therapist to establish and breakdown down the problems and place them into sections.   These sections are; thoughts, physical feelings, and actions. These areas will be analyzed to see if they are unrealistic or unhelpful and to find out what effect they have on each other and on the client.  The therapist will then be able to help to change these obstructive thoughts and behaviors.

Once the changes needed have been identified, the therapist will ask the client to practice these changes in their everyday life. These will be discussed in follow-up sessions.

The Good and the Not So Good of CBT 

CBT is just as effective as medication in the treatment of various mental health issues.  But, the treatment is not successful in every case.  It may help where other types of medication alone have failed.  It takes a shorter period of time to complete than other talking therapies.  It can be used in a variety of formats because of the way it is structured.  These formats include group sessions, self-help books, and computer programs.  It is educational with useful and practical strategies that can be applied in everyday life and these new strategies can still be used after treatment comes to an end.

Some of the disadvantages of CBT to consider include:

  • A total commitment from the person requiring treatment.   The therapist can help and advise but the client’s co-operation and determination are vital for it to be successful.
  • Turning up for the CBT sessions and completing the homework between; these can take up a lot of time.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy may not be an appropriate treatment for people with more complicated mental health problems or learning difficulties because it requires structured sessions.
  • This treatment means facing up to emotions and anxieties.  This in itself could cause some people to become anxious and/or emotionally uncomfortable especially in the early stages of the treatment.
  • It examines the individual’s capability to change themselves, their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  • Willpower at the beginning is helpful as well as CBT to help conquer an addiction that has become a serious problem to someone’s well-being. However, willpower is only there as a temporary backup and will eventually disappear,  this is why other forms of help are needed.

Stop addiction from ruling your life, regain control and get your life back.  Imagine how wonderful that feeling will be when you finally lay the addiction to rest and you are content and at peace with yourself once more.

Jan, Life Coach You

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