Addiction and dependence is not just a matter of choice, morals or weak character.
‘Addiction’ is a biopsychosocial genetic disease. Historically we have understood that addiction is symptomatic of: unresolved internal conflict, a learned behaviour from positive rein enforcement, an adaptive behaviour to poor social and coping skills and / or an identified dysfunction of a family system where one person hold the family hostage.
An incomplicated definition of ‘mental illness’
Mental illness may be defined as, “Any of various psychiatric conditions, usually characterized by impairment of an individual’s normal cognitive, emotional, or behavioural functioning caused by psychological or psychosocial factors”. (American Heritage Medical Dictionary 2007)
According to this definition, addiction is a mental illness while in practice they are considered separate. When individuals experience substance abuse or pornographic abuse, they seldom like to think of themselves as struggling with a mental illness. However the fact is that there is much in common, simply because addictions clearly impair control over choices regarding their addiction.
Science is only now catching up with clinician to explain how addiction, substance abuse and recovery work. Clients can now be reassured that research in the area of neurobiology and genetics now point to the causes of ‘chemical dependence’. This differs from the term ‘substance abuse’ (a voluntary drug overuse). According to Carlton Erickson (Professor of Pharmacology U of Texas), the disease of ‘chemical dependence has a large genetic component driving the disease (up to 60%). When this is combined with the extended use of a drug it leads to neuroadaptation of the brain’s reward or please pathways. It is this neuroadaptation that leads to confusing and deviant messaging to the frontal lobe. This interferes with the frontal lobes normal function of controlling impulse associated with decisions making and cravings.
Addictions have cousins (co-occurring disorders)
Certain disorders tend to ‘hang together’! It is probably for the same reasons why people hang together. They tend to find support and help. As an example if someone is struggling with social anxiety, the regular use of alcohol takes the edge off the anxiety. This is often termed ‘self-medicating’. When the alcohol wears off and the anxiety or depression returns they consume more alcohol. In like manner people with personality disorders – or who have a rigid ego-defense system use multiple forms of denial. They may argue quite convincingly, minimizing the negative effects of substance abuse in their life.
The cousins that can tend to hang together are:
- Anxiety Disorders
- ADHD & Conduct Disorder
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Impulse Control Issues
- Bi-polar Disorder
New addictions to be concerned about:
Internet & texting
Pornography & internet sexting
At Bayridge we love families... all kinds of families. We work with adults, spouses and teens every single day. After working with literally tens of thousands of families we have learn a few things of what works and what does not. It is not just the individual wrestling with addictions that are hurting.
It just takes 40 seconds of courage
and we will prove to you five reasons why you will be glad you chose Bayridge Counselling Centre. If you take the first step, we will walk beside you for the second, third until you have reached your goal.
It is not an easy thing to do this alone! Let us help!