Addiction

When we think of addictions we tend think about gambling, drugs, alcohol or nicotine but the term can refer to almost any behavior where we have lost control over something that we are taking or using to the point that it could be harmful. Even activities that are beneficial, such as exercise, can take on some of the characteristics of an addiction when done to excess . Being obsessed with work, use of the internet or shopping can also be seen as examples of addictive behaviours especially when these take over and cause us to neglect other important areas of our lives.

 

Talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be very effective in treating addiction problems. But the starting point for overcoming any addiction is yourself. No one can make you give up an addiction. You have to genuinely want to change and believe your life will be better without it. If you’re committed to finding a solution to your addiction I can help you make a plan for the future identifying the challenges you are likely to meet from withdrawal and developing the skills to help you cope with them effectively. You will find me supportive and non-judgemental as you work towards a new life free from addictions.

 

If you're beginning to feel that your alcohol intake is causing you problems then it might be time to take stock of your drinking habits and consider whether you need to cut down. Taking the initiative to reduce the amount you drink is never a bad thing but if your levels of drinking have been excessive then stopping suddenly could be risky - to be on the safe side you should always get advice from your G.P. if you have concerns about drink. You might also consider getting professional support through therapy to help you understand how and why your drinking has been causing you difficulties in the first place.

A counsellor can offer you additional support and guidance about drink and help you make changes that will keep you safe and avoid taking unnecessary risks with your health in the future.

 

If you'd like to talk to me about alcohol addiction please get in touch

Cocaine

Alcohol

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that comes from the leaves of the Coca bush. It is a white powder that is usually snorted (inhaled through the nose) but can also be dissolved in water and injected. Powder cocaine can be chemically changed to create forms of cocaine that can be smoked.


 

Cocaine is used as a recreational drug but for some people it can develop into a habit that is hard to break and comes to dominate day-to-day living. If you feel you are struggling with an addiction it's probably a good idea to think about getting some help rather than struggle on alone. Whatever problems you are experiencing it makes sense to talk things with someone who can help you consider your options impartially and without judgement. This can be especially true if it feels like you've become dependent on a substance and are unsure how to make some changes in your life.

 

What effect does cocaine have on the body and brain?

Cocaine produces a high by increasing levels of the natural chemical messenger dopamine in brain circuits controlling pleasure and movement. Normally, the brain releases dopamine in these circuits in response to potential rewards, like the smell of good food. It then recycles back into the cell that released it, shutting off the signal between nerve cells. Cocaine prevents dopamine from recycling, causing it to build up between nerve cells. This flood of dopamine causes cocaine’s high.



Short-term effects include:
 

  • Constricted blood vessels

  • Nausea

  • Faster heartbeat

  • Extreme happiness and energy

  • Irritability

  • Paranoia


Long-term effects can include:
 

  • Nosebleeds

  • Malnourishment

  • Restlessness

  • Paranoia

     

Health issues associated with using Cocaine

Many people who use cocaine also drink alcohol at the same time, which is particularly risky and can lead to overdose. Some of the most frequent and severe health consequences leading to overdose involve the heart and blood vessels, including irregular heart rhythm and heart attacks, and the nerves, including seizures and strokes.

What is the treatment for Cocaine Addiction?

If you are experiencing problems with a cocaine addiction the first step to recovery is to recognise your difficulties and ask for help.


Achieving any form of change requires commitment and you need to feel that you are ready to embrace the challenge this will entail. It's worth remembering that achieving change is always much more effective if the motivation comes from within us rather than being insisted upon by those around us but if you genuinely want to break free from dependency there's every reason to feel optimistic about your chances of success.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is often used to treat a range of addictions and can be very effective. CBT works by exploring the thought processes and behaviours we have developed that keep an addiction going. Using techniques and interventions CBT encourages us to challenge unhelpful behaviours and develop new strategies and coping mechanisms to support us in breaking free from habits that may have got out of control. Through regular practice you will find that it is possible to adopt new ways of thinking about your addiction and evolve useful behaviours that will enable you to manage cravings and help you steer a new path.

 

If you need help with cocaine addiction get in touch.

Cannabis

Cannabis (also known as marijuana, weed, pot, dope or grass) is the most widely used illegal drug in the UK and is often seen as low-risk. The effects of cannabis vary from person to person and can make you feel chilled out, relaxed and happy. Some people get the giggles or become more talkative or experience hunger pangs often referred to as "the munchies".

Cannabis can cause colours to appear more intense, music to sound better or induce a sense of time slowing down. The effects of Cannabis can include feeling faint or sick - especially if you are not used to it or it can make you sleepy and lethargic.

Cannabis can also affect your memory and makes some people feel confused, anxious or paranoid. Others may experience panic attacks and hallucinations and these effects are common with stronger forms of cannabis like skunk or sinsemilla. Cannabis affects your ability to drive safely and if used regularly it can make you demotivated and uninterested in things that would ordinarily be important in your life, such as education or work. Long-term use of the drug can affect your ability to learn and concentrate. (Source: reproduced from NHS Choices)


Can you get addicted to cannabis?
Studies have shown that 10% of regular cannabis users become dependent on it. The risk of becoming addicted is higher if you start using it in your teens or use it every day. As with other addictive drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, you can develop a tolerance to cannabis and this causes you to need more to get the same effect. People who stop using cannabis may have withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, irritability and restlessness. If you smoke cannabis with tobacco, you're likely to get addicted to nicotine and risk getting tobacco-related diseases such as cancer and coronary heart disease. If you cut down or give up, you will experience withdrawal from nicotine as well as cannabis. (Source: reproduced from NHS Choices)


 

Trying to give up?

The first step in recovery from any addiction begins with recognising that you have a problem. Addiction is usually a symptom of something else that's going on for us rather than a cause and using a substance often means we have lost touch with our natural ability to comfort or soothe ourselves and resort to drugs as a form of self-medication. If you are using Cannabis frequently and often feel that you need it just to get by or to cope with day-to-day living then it's time to get help in tackling your addiction. Doing this can require regular support and guidance to help us identify the pitfalls and keep us on track as we work towards the positive goal of becoming Cannabis free.

If you feel that you are struggling with an addiction to Cannabis and feel that now is the time to start your recovery I can support you by:-


 

  • Helping you to identify your symptoms from using Cannabis.

  • Understand how you became addicted to Cannabis in the first place and know what keeps it going.

  • Help you develop a recovery plan and strategies to cope with future challenges.

  • Developing alternative, healthier and more effective ways of coping with stress or life's difficulties.

  • Helping you to take renewed care of your health and well-being.

  • Embracing new behaviours and activities that will help you look forward to a life free from addiction.

  • Helping you maintain your recovery.

     

Cannabis and mental health

Regular cannabis use increases the risk of developing a psychotic illness, such as schizophrenia. A psychotic illness creates a disturbed sense of reality causing hallucinations (seeing things that aren't really there) and delusions (believing things that aren't really true).


The risk of developing a psychotic illness is higher if:

 

  • You smoke stronger types, such as skunk.

  • You smoke it regularly.

  • You use it for a long time.

  • You smoke cannabis and have risk factors for schizophrenia, such as family history of the illness.

  • You already have schizophrenia - cannabis can make psychotic symptoms worse.

  • During your teenage years the brain is still developing. Cannabis interferes with this process.

  • If you start using it regularly in your teens your risk of schizophrenia, is higher.
     

Other risks of cannabis

People who smoke cannabis regularly are more likely to have bronchitis (inflammation and irritation of the lining of the lungs).

 

  • Cannabis smoke contains cancer-causing chemicals similar to tobacco smoke.

  • Mixing cannabis with tobacco risks causing lung diseases e.g. lung cancer and chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD).

  • Cannabis increases the risks of being injured in a road traffic accident.

  • If you drive under the influence of cannabis, you're more likely to be involved in an accident.

  • Drug driving, like drink driving, is illegal.

  • Cannabis use can affect fertility.

  • If you're pregnant, cannabis may harm your unborn baby's brain development.

  • Regularly smoking cannabis with tobacco increases the risk of premature birth.

  • Cannabis increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke

  • Research suggests it's the cannabis smoke that increases the risk, not the active ingredients in the plant itself. (Source: NHS Choices)
     

Cannabis use in healthcare

Cannabis contains active ingredients called cannabinoids. Two of these – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) – are the active ingredients of a prescription drug called Sativex. This is used to relieve the pain of muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis. Another cannabinoid drug, called Nabilone, is sometimes used to relieve sickness in people having chemotherapy for cancer. NHS Choices refers to ongoing trials being conducted to test cannabis-based drugs for other conditions including cancer pain, the eye disease glaucoma, appetite loss in people with HIV or AIDS, and epilepsy in children. (Source: NHS Choices)


Reach out today if you'd like to talk to me about how I can help you manage your addiction to cannabis

Gambling

As well as the harm to your relationships compulsive gambling can also affect your health and lead to serious debt problems. One of the main obstacles in tackling problem gambling is often that the gambler doesn't believe that they have a problem in the first place.

Friends and family may be the first to notice changes in a person's behaviours that point to a problem but a gambler can continue to be in denial or simply fail to recognise when their habit has got out of control. Gambleaware UK point out that anyone can develop a gambling problem but say two risks in particular can contribute to a young person developing a gambling problem: the presence of a family history of gambling and the age at which the person starts gambling - this is because the earlier a gambling habit begins the more likely it is that they will experience difficulties later on. (Source: gambleaware.co.uk)


Signs and Symptoms

As with most addictions, something that can start out as an enjoyable activity can develop into a problem habit that's difficult to break. Gambleaware UK makes the point that if you think you may have a problem then it's quite possible that you actually do have one. It can help to recognise if your gambling is becoming a problem by being aware of the following warning signs:

 

  • Betting more than you can afford

  • Borrowing money or selling possessions to get money for gambling

  • Being unable to pay back borrowings because it's been lost gambling

  • Experiencing health problems from gambling such as stress or anxiety

  • Feeling guilty about gambling

  • Having a significant interest in gambling

  • Difficulties at school, lack of interest, or being absent from school

  • Changes in personality or behaviours

  • Relationship changes 

  • Changes in mood

  • Becoming frequently angry

  • Arguing with friends and family

  • Spending excessive time and money on gambling

  • Wanting to stop gambling but finding it too hard

  • Lying about winnings

  • Frequently missing work

  • Chasing your losses 
     

How I can help you

I have worked with many people to help them overcome a gambling problem using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. CBT can help overcome a gambling problem by understanding what keeps the compulsion going and then identifying the thoughts and behaviours that are most likely to bring about positive and lasting change. If you are finding it difficult to cope with your gambling habit you may benefit from having professional support to help you gain control of your life and manage things going forward. Please feel free to contact me - I understand the kinds of problems and fears you may be struggling with and I can support you in working through your concerns about gambling.

 

Often the starting point is to be honest with yourself and feel genuinely committed to solving your gambling problems. With a combination of personal commitment and professional support there's every chance you can succeed.