Drug and Alcohol Dependence


Understanding drug and alcohol dependence and how counselling helps me?

About Addiction

Research shows that more and more people are struggling with an addiction.  Although most people associate addiction with drug and alcohol misuse there are many other types such as gambling, shopping, sex, exercise, food, love, Internet, gaming and work.

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Reasons why someone becomes addicted is complex but it can be common that some addictions are used as a way to cope with stress and escape from mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and PTSD. Being predisposed to addiction either through genetics or because of an ‘addicted’ parent, through prolonged stress or because of a traumatic incident are all common reasons.  Also if someone is injecting or smoking this can sometimes increase the potential for longer-term addiction.  This means that when seeking treatment it is not just about working with the addiction but also about addressing what is causing it and finding alternative ways of coping and managing.

Addiction basically means exceptionally strong cravings that start as a low intensity but then over time grow stronger and more frequent leading to dependence.  The following stages have been identified that a person will go through before they are addicted.

Experimental:  This stage is one where most people can identify with; it is usually when someone is experimenting and curious.  This typically happens in teen-hood when wanting to appear grown up, due to peer pressure or through an act of rebellion.

Recreational:  This stage is where people may use a form of addiction to wind down or for social occasions.  People often talk about a tolerance build up where they is a need to do it more to get the same desired effect.

Early Dependency: This stage is where the person is a functioning addict.  This means they are keeping down a job and relationships however it may start to become increasingly difficult.  The person is likely to be in denial that they have a problem and may become more deceitful; they may steal money or run up debt to fund their addiction.

Full Dependency: This stage is where they have completely escaped from reality, which means that they may use their addiction as a way to cope day to day.  Relationships may now be strained and they may be experiencing some problems at work such as taking too many sick days or have gone authorized without leave.

Relapse can often happen with addiction and those who suffer from addiction will be much more likely to relapse when facing stressful life experiences like job loss, relationship difficulties, and death. Sometimes people who say they want to change but in reality don’t will end up relapsing also.  Teaching alternative coping strategies can go a long way towards helping the person take more control over their life choices.