The term addiction refers to a continual need to consume some type of substance, commit some act, or engage in some form of behavior. Addiction is a form of compulsion in which the individual experiences an irresistible and overwhelming urge to act. The person may feel compelled to act or experience obsessive thinking. An individual suffering from addiction may find it helpful to seek treatment from a qualified therapist.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

Compulsive behaviors associated with addiction may include substance abuse, gambling, unrestrained spending and shopping, sexual addiction, excessive exercising, hoarding, eating issues, gaming, and other behaviors. It is important to understand that any type of compulsive behavior could become an addiction when the individual is no longer able to control their ability to function academically, socially, or professionally.

Symptoms that might indicate a behavior has become compulsive and is now an addiction include:

  • Professional and interpersonal relationship problems
  • Denial there is a problem
  • Concealing behavior
  • Inability to cease behavior
  • Withdrawal from other activities
  • Feeling confusion, anxiety, elation, or shame regarding the behavior

Related Problems

In many situations, addiction results from some underlying psychological condition, such as depression. Engaging in compulsive behavior or addictions may help to relieve anxiety or stress temporarily. Compulsive behaviors are closely linked to specific substance addictions due to the fact that they can cause the same neurological pathways to be triggered, resulting in a cycle of reward that can make the activity appear even more attractive. Individuals with mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, may find it difficult to resist compulsive urges due to poor impulse control. CBT, discussed below, can address these issues.

How Addiction Affects Families

Addiction can have a significant emotional impact on families. Family members of addicts may experience high levels of stress. The unusual and potentially threatening behavior of addicts can interrupt the daily routines of family members. When addiction is left untreated, it can result in traumatizing effects on adults as well as children. This can lead to significant relationship issues. Furthermore, family members of addicts may have a higher likelihood of experiencing anxiety, depression, or even addiction. They may also engage in high-risk behavior. Without healthy boundaries, family members are likely to develop or exacerbate codependent traits.

Therapy and Counseling for Addictions

Addiction can temporarily provide individuals with a sense of validation, euphoria, and a sense of power. Psychotherapy can help individuals who are struggling with addiction and who may find it difficult to overcome addictive behavior on their own. This is done by working through underlying issues that may be related to their addictive behavior, such as past abuse, stress, trauma, etc.

Working with a therapist can be incredibly effective for managing addiction. There are many different forms of therapy that can be suitable for addressing behaviors the individual wishes to change. Individuals struggling with addiction are most likely to benefit by working with a therapist who has the experience and qualifications to address addiction and relevant underlying causes.

It is important to understand that addiction is treatable. The first phase of treatment is to withdraw from the activity or substance. There can be both psychological and physical effects that occur when withdrawing from the substance or activity. This could include physical indications, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Sweats
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches and cramps
  • Fever
  • Sleeplessness

The individual may also experience anxiety, depression, mood swings, and irritability. Withdrawal commonly lasts from between three days to five days. Medications can be helpful for alleviating the discomfort associated with withdrawal. In some cases, the individual may benefit from receiving medical supervision in a residential treatment program.

Counseling and behavioral therapy are crucial elements involved in addiction treatment. Cognitive therapy can be beneficial for helping patients struggling with addiction to identify as well as cope with situations in which they may be tempted to engage in substance abuse or compulsive behavior. Family therapy can also be helpful to assist patients in maintaining family support.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing, a relatively new approach to addiction therapy, can provide the basis for understanding the natural motivation for making necessary change. In this form of therapy, the therapist attempts to understand what motivates the patient. This could include returning to work, love of family, etc. Once these motivations have been identified, the therapist works with the patient, making this the focus of therapy.

Individual vs. Group Therapy

Individuals receiving therapy for addiction may benefit from both individual as well as group therapy. In group therapy, individuals struggling with addiction may be supported and challenged by peers who are going through the same experiences.

Individual therapy can be beneficial for individuals coping with a dual diagnosis, such as bipolar disorder, depression, or other significant mental health conditions.

Maintenance Therapy

The goal of maintenance therapy is to assist patients with the skills they need to maintain their recovery, as evidence now indicates that addiction can be a lifelong battle.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT can help to teach patients effective methods for recognizing moods, situations, and thoughts that could trigger their craving for substances or compulsive behavior. With proper therapy, it’s possible to learn how to replace negative feelings and thoughts with healthy thoughts and feelings.

Addiction can result in death, as well as serious medical and criminal costs. While addiction is a serious and chronic condition, treatment is available. Therapy can provide individuals with the skills they need to manage their lives in a healthy and effective manner.

The longer one waits to seek therapy to deal with addiction, the more difficult it will become. Furthermore, without therapy, one may be at risk for experiencing other issues over time, including mental and psychological disorders and medical problems. Withdrawal symptoms will also grow worse over time, which can make recovery even more difficult.

Counseling and therapy are appropriate for anyone who is experiencing problems with behavioral disorders or substance abuse. It is important to understand that an individual with an addiction is not alone. If you or someone close to you is struggling to overcome addiction, treatment is available and can help.

If you find you relate to the information in this article and would like some help, please contact Rita with Sioux Falls Wellness Counseling at (605) 610-9228.