An addiction is defined as something or someone that you are dependent on. It’s a habit, a problem, characterized by the recurrent search for pleasure derived from a specific behaviour. It can be:
- work – workaholism
- shopping – compulsive buying
- food – eating disorders
- Internet, Social Media, Digital Games, Smartphones, …
What causes addictions?
Addiction alters the levels of all happy brain hormones. Addictive stimuli cause changes in happy brain hormones with initial very high levels followed by very low levels. On the other hand, non-addictive stimuli such as creative work, moderate physical activity, art, healthy balanced diet, humour, healthy relationships and socialization, cause moderate changes in happy brain hormones; all these activities or situations can be helpful in the recovery of addiction.
According to the Faculty of Addictions at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, “Doctors cannot point to a ‘single cause’ of why addictions develop.» There are however some risk factors… with biological, psychological and social aspects; sometimes psychological trauma is involved; In terms of therapy and hypnotherapy strategies, to help someone who is suffering from addiction, it then makes sense to work on helping them to cope with all the aspects of their addiction; on working on treating any previous traumatic experiences; and on helping them build resources for coping in the future.
Negative consequences of addictions:
• Health issues: especially for people addicted to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, food, …
• Professional problems: job loss or compromising one’s career.
• Problems with friends and family: this can include hiding the truth or lying about it, abusing family or neglecting responsibilities.
• Financial problems: in some types of addictions, one borrows or builds up debt to finance it.
• Legal problems: some people might resort to deceits, thefts or other illegal activities.
• Stress related issues: insomnia, nervousness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and decrease of cognitive performance.
At the beginning, people are usually in denial about their problems. And although there is help available to them the person that has an addiction to whatever it may be, they must first accept their problem and want help to address the issue.
The most efficient approach is a multimodal approach, based on a personalized treatment plan, including cognitive-behavioural therapy and psychotherapy.
It is also important to manage the negative emotions associated with the addiction in question such as depression, anxiety, stress, etc. If there is an underlying trauma that has caused or developed or maintained the addiction, it’s important to deal with that trauma. Otherwise some people find themselves stopping one addiction and replacing it with another.
These are some of the techniques I use to help people overcome their addictive habits:
1. Rational Emotive Cognitive Behaviour Hypnotherapy
2. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) / EMIT (Eye Movement Integration Therapy)
3. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)
4. Assertiveness training