Addiction

From Addiction to Recovery, isolation to connection.

Recovery takes specific Knowledge, Insight, Commitment and consistent Effort; it’s a process, not an event. That is to say, any relapse, back sliding or returning to what was, can occur. It happens when someone is not actively and consistently applying this Knowledge, Insight, Commitment and Effort into their recovery on an ongoing basis. Like driving a car, recovery for many gets easier but even when practiced for years, the person in recovery needs to be aware of the dangers and behave in a way that keeps them safe.  Addiction, like driving a car recklessly can be fatal for the addict and others.

Some people may feel that they have no choice around addictions but this is not true because they have; they do however need to apply Knowledge, Insight, Commitment and Effort to connect with that choice and the ability to carry it out consistently.

The motivation to change can be a confusing aspect of addiction and recovery for many people because they can hold both awareness and a desire to stop at the same time as a compulsion to continue. This can often be a feature of addiction and is referred to as ambivalence. This is further confirmation that an addiction is present.  Some people have lost the ability to see clearly and consistently the damage that their addiction is doing and therefore minimise or deny the reality; once again, this is addiction. Denial and its many forms will keep the addict stationary and those around them confused, frustrated and affected.

The elevator of addiction stops at many floors and people don’t have to go down to the bottom to get off; however, if they do get off, recovery is still possible. Loss in an addiction comes in many forms and can be emotional, material, relational, psychological, health and reputation – any number of and sometimes all of these things can be repaired in recovery.

 

Addiction

         

Addiction is less about giving something up but more about gaining something, such as a more meaningful, authentic and connected life. Addiction takes things away whereas recovery gives them back. This could include self-esteem, love for and from self and others, meaning, passion, ability to deal with life’s challenges, healing, and hope.

 

The Knowledge, Insight, Commitment and Effort mentioned throughout this article are best acquired and understood from and with others. These others might be a support group and/or a counsellor. Commitment and Effort can often relate to and be increased, by hope and a shift in belief – the belief that one can overcome an addiction. Once gain this can be found in connection with others.  In some ways the journey from addiction to recovery is the journey from isolation to connection.

For help with addiction, addictions counselling and therapy see specialist addiction recovery website.

 

Am I addicted ?

Am I addicted? When is a problem an addiction? By Andrew Harvey, Counsellor and Therapist. 

Have you ever asked yourself that question “am I addicted” ? or maybe someone else has said they think you may be if so, this article is for you, its also for you if you have ever asked, “is she/he addicted ?”

Before I start my little article here, I want to say that I respect that more than one understanding of addiction and recovery exists; I hold a pluralistic perspective when it comes to the subject. I do, with my best intentions, do what I can to respect these diverse understandings. I do not claim to hold an ultimate truth; I write here from my own personal and professional experience: an experience that has included working with, treating and sharing with incredible individuals who have turned their lives around, sometimes before addiction really got a hold sometimes not. My experience also, sadly, includes working with, treating and sharing with people who never moved to a solid recovery. Some are sadly no longer with us as a result of addiction.

What gave me the motivation to write this article is a question that I often get asked. Not maybe using these exact words, it can be something like ‘I think I may be addicted to (Drugs /Drink/Internet/Porn/Shopping/Food/Gambling … chose one … or several), but I’m not sure. How would I know?’ Unfortunately, there is often no short answer and depending upon where you look for your answer you may arrive at different conclusions. If you Google ‘what is addiction?‘ you will end up with many diverse definitions and understandings, and depending upon how authentic and connected your level of awareness of your problem or addiction is (which if it is addiction, it’s both!) or level of denial, you might find one that fits with your perceived experience. The danger is, of course, if you are truly addicted and are experiencing the often accompanied deep level of denial you will settle for a website that denies addiction even exists. As you can imagine this might speak to the part of you that wants to keep going with the addiction. A claim that disputes widely held understandings of addiction may well concur with your own denial and keep you going along the long road (sometimes short) of loss, because that’s what addiction, in my experience, leads to: loss of connection, hope, money, dignity, self, love and for some, life.
So how do you know if your problem is “just a problem” or an addiction? I guess a simple and extremely reductionist answer is: try stopping (and here’s the crucial bit) and STAY STOPPED. Most addicts can stop for a length of time, but the truth of addiction is they can’t stay stopped. Here we are presented with another issue, that of choice. Many a real addict will say ‘yes I stopped and I started again, because I chose to’ … REALLY! Did YOU choose or did your addicted self choose? I refer to my previous mention of denial. Here we see it in the form of “I can control this; it doesn’t control me I choose to live this life”, another path to the road of loss. Denial has been mentioned in this piece on more than one occasion. It is frequently a symptom of addiction; it’s a denial that the problem has crossed a line and if in some sort of recovery, relapse occurs, it is often denial related: a denial of how bad it was before: a denial of loss of personal control; a denial of the loss of personal choice; a denial of what needs to be done to stay in recovery; and often a denial of the person’s true values and personality.

So, in short , what’s the answer? “Am I addicted or do I just have a problem?”  My unsophisticated, yet caring, answer is … you probably won’t know. You will need help to investigate and find out, in the form of another human being because,  left alone with an online test or website, if you are addicted your denial might well run riot. So if you really want to know,  seek help from people with good recovery (Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12 Step fellowship) or a professional, your GP might be a good place to start. Addiction really takes hold in isolation, so that act of reaching out to another is, in itself, is a step towards recovery.
At the end of the day, if you’re asking yourself the question, maybe you and the people that love you deserve an informed answer. I truly hope you find your answer and act on it. Recovery happens, and when it dose it is truly a re-connection with self and others.

Andrew Harvey
Andrew is a therapist and counsellor working both private practice and for one of the UK’s leading providers of action recovery services.

Counselling Services Nottingham’s sister company Nottingham based AddictionsCounselling.net provides therapy, face to face and SKYPE therapy for all types of addiction including; alcoholism, alcohol addiction, drug abuse, drug addiction, gambling, sex addiction, internet addiction,  Porn addiction and other compulsive behaviours/addictions. 

 Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals