An addiction is an obsessive, uncontrollable and often harmful attachment to an activity, behaviour or substance. People can become addicted to all sorts of things, but it is most commonly associated with drugs, gambling, alcohol, the Internet, nicotine and food. According to the NHS, around two million people in the UK are struggling with an addiction.
If you are dependent on a particular substance or activity to get through daily life, it is quite likely that you have an addiction. You may be finding it increasingly difficult to control your urges, and your relationships, work life and overall well-being could be starting to suffer.
Recognising you may be addicted is an important step towards getting help. Addiction help is available in many forms, but a number of people find hypnosis for addiction particularly beneficial. On this page we will explore signs and causes, and exactly how hypnotherapy for addiction works.
What is addiction?
If you have an addiction, it means that you have no control over taking, doing or using something. Typically an addiction begins as a habit - a behavioural pattern that is not particularly damaging. Over time it can become more powerful and advanced, eventually interfering with a person's quality of life.
Habitual behaviour is a natural part of our lives, and many of us will have what are referred to as 'bad habits'. These can be broken because they are typically unconscious or passive actions. Once we get a conscious handle on them, we can stop them. Addictions, however, are conscious and impulsive responses that can be very difficult to control.
Signs of addiction
Warning signs of an addiction are:
It overrides your feelings and emotions.
It distracts you from normal life and day-to-day responsibilities.
You've abandoned activities you used to enjoy.
You have physical withdrawal symptoms if you attempt to stop. These include irritability, anxiety, nausea and shakes.
It is causing problems at work and in your relationships.
It is having negative effects on your health, mood and self-respect.
You need to perform the habit more regularly to experience a 'high'.
What causes addiction?
There is no known cause, but there are several factors that can increase the risk of developing an addiction. These factors are split into two categories:
Certain behavioural traits (shaped by environmental and genetic factors) can increase the possibility of trying addictive substances or activities. These include:
Genetics - There is evidence to suggest a genetic link to addiction. If you have a family history of addiction, you are more likely to develop one too. Certain genetic traits could also delay or speed up its progression.
Background - Traumatic experiences during childhood such as neglect or abuse can increase the risk of developing addictive behaviours. Early use of certain substances or particular activities can also be linked.
Mental health - Experts believe that people who experience anxiety and nervousness in their approach to daily life are more vulnerable to addiction. Individuals struggling to cope with stress may also lean towards addictive behaviour patterns.
Experts believe there is a link between the repeated use of certain substances and activities, and how the brain experiences pleasure. An addictive behaviour triggers the creation of the hormone, dopamine, which causes feelings of pleasure and satisfaction (a mental 'high'). The brain remembers this rush of pleasure and wants them repeated. Over time, repeated use of a substance or activity changes how brain feels pleasure, so a user has to increase the dose or frequency in order to recreate the desired 'high'. When tolerance increases, withdrawal symptoms become more severe and this increases the likelihood of addiction.
A key aim of hypnosis for addiction is to identify and work through the underlying causes of addiction. This empowers patients to see their addictive behaviour as something they can control and overcome.
Stages of addiction
Understanding how addictive behaviours develop can be helpful for spotting the signs and knowing when to seek addiction help. Experts believe people with addictions go through a set of stages:
- Experimentation - Addictive behaviour tends to start with curiosity and the desire to try something new. Very rarely do people set out to become psychologically and physically addicted to something.
- Regular use - Some people try something once and never do it again, but there are those who will actively aim to recreate the experience. At this stage quality of life is not affected.
- Increased use - What might have begun as a temporary form of relief or escape will have quickly escalated to frequent use. At this stage warning signs start to appear and risky behaviour may emerge.
- Dependence - This is when the user finds they can no longer function normally or happily without taking the particular substance or carrying out an activity. Withdrawal symptoms are strong and despite negative consequences the user cannot give up.
If you recognise warning signs of addiction and are concerned that you or someone you know may have a problem, seeking help as soon as possible is crucial. A great source of addiction help is your GP, or if you'd rather speak to someone anonymously, there are several charities you can contact. Hypnotherapy for addiction is particularly useful.
Hypnotherapy for addiction
Today, an area of addiction help that is growing in popularity is hypnotherapy. Hypnosis for addiction aims to get to the root of the problem by inducing a state of heightened awareness in the patient. In this relaxed state, the patient is more receptive to suggestions and ideas that are compatible with their goals. This allows for the hypnotherapist to offer ideas about the substance or activity that the patient is addicted to in order to help them gain control over their addiction. A hypnotherapist will provide the support and guidance required to alter ingrained behavioural patterns. This enables a patient to treat the underlying cause of their addictive behaviour and rebuild their emotional strength. Hypnotherapy for addiction can be an effective tool during the early stages of addiction during recovery.
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