When we tend to think of addiction we usually think about issues such as drink or drugs and, whilst they are probably the two most common forms of addictive behaviour in society today, an addict is basically anybody who turns to something which they feel gives them instant gratification or some other kind of reward or helps them escape from their actual reality. Usually, this will go hand in hand with a sense of them feeling low self esteem even though in many cases, they can often seem confident on the outside.
Usually, their addiction may start off as a recreational pastime but it’s when it gets a grip of the person and starts to control their lives that we can view it as an addiction.
Apart from alcohol and drug addiction, other more well-known addictions which we read about from time to time include addiction to cigarettes, gambling, sex, pornography, anorexia, bulimia, money, work, the internet, paedophilia and there are many more types besides.
Recognising that you have an addiction is often the first step to overcoming it but many people remain in denial about their addiction for a long time, often several years, before they decide that it’s controlling their lives and that they wish to do something about it and that’s if they ever get round to facing up to their problem. Many addicts will go through their entire lives in denial and will eventually die without ever fully overcoming their problems.
Only when an addict can admit to him or herself that the problem has taken control of their lives can they begin the often long journey on the road to recovery.
Addiction takes away your self esteem and self control and, basically, takes away your life. You become powerless to the addiction and it takes a stranglehold upon you which forces you to lose any kind of sense of your true self.
The Journey to Recovery
As already mentioned, there are many different types of addiction and the steps you need to take to recover from a particular one are going to be very different depending on the nature of the addiction and upon you as an individual.
Quite often, addiction recovery begins with seeing a therapist who specialises in your specific addiction and you may also get the opportunity to join a recovery support group of other similar individuals who are all suffering from the same addictive behaviour as you. Ultimately, however, the journey cannot begin until you have made a firm commitment that you no longer wish to be a slave to your addiction.
Addictions affect us physically and mentally and to overcome them successfully, it’s important that we are treated for both aspects and not just the physical manifestation of the addiction. Some addicts can be treated on an outpatient basis, attending group or individual therapy sessions whilst still trying to lead their normal everyday lives. For others, hospitalisation or some other kind of in patient care is necessary.
One of the positives of overcoming addictive behaviour is the background of a lot of the people who specialise in the field. Often, they have also been through the addiction themselves at some point in their lives which can be very comforting to those who are trying to overcome their addictions in knowing that those who are trying to help them have ‘been there’ too.
Being an Addict Doesn’t Mean You Are a Bad Person
Addicts themselves tend to have very low self esteem and feel that they are weak and a bad person. What we, as a society, fail to realise is that addiction often comes about as a result of a poor, or often tragic, upbringing which has made a person very vulnerable. Addicts by nature are out of control to their addiction which can also make them out of control around other people. This can result in them being ‘bad’ to somebody but that doesn’t mean they are a bad person per se. It’s important, therefore, to view addiction as an illness that somebody is going through.
As mentioned, treatment and therapy is going to vary depending on the nature of the addiction but with solid support and a good network of people who can help and have your best interests at heart, anyone is capable of overcoming an addiction, the major hurdle being your acceptance that you have a problem you cannot control and a steely determination to put the problem behind you and a desire to move on with your life.
And, once you have overcome your addiction, the door remains open to your support group who, alongside your own efforts, will be able to keep you on the right road to ensure you start to live your life again fully.