Addiction takes many forms: addiction to substances e.g. smoking, alcohol dependance, drug dependence, sugar, caffeine or addiction to behaviours eg. gambling, sex addiction, on-line games, fasting, etc.
When we meet any of our human needs e.g. for food, sex, learning something new, etc. we are rewarded by a feeling of pleasure. Addiction derives from this natural desire for pleasure that nature rewards us with when we satisfy our needs.
The neuroscience of addiction involves the brain chemical dopamine and the opioid system in the brain. These brain chemicals are the mechanism by which we are motivated to get our needs met, to try new things and receive a pleasurable sensation when we get our needs met or learn something new. The natural high we experience being the interplay of dopamine (like cocaine) and opioids (like heroin).
Addiction hijacks this system. The expectation of the pleasurable feelings drives the urge to repeat the behaviour but as the “pleasure dial” is turned down as the behaviour becomes less novel, it takes more and more of the behaviour to achieve the same effect.
When our lives are fulfilling, we are protected from addiction. Addiction results from our needs not being met e.g. eating for comfort or from boredom, drinking in response to anxiety, etc. and/or there may be damage to our guidance system (the resources nature provides us with for meeting those needs) – often through psychological trauma or missing coping skills.
I can help you overcome your alcohol or drug problem or stop smoking by:
- Negotiating realistic goals
- Using guided imagery for counter conditioning
- Helping you identify triggers for the addictive behaviour
- As a specialist in trauma, I can help you deal with any relevant traumatic memories
- Helping you learn how to relax and manage your emotions
- Helping you eliminate the positive expectations you have of the addictive behaviour,
- Identifying your unmet emotional needs and finding ways you can get those needs better met
- Helping you to conquer cravings
- Relapse prevention – strategies for dealing with high risk situations
- Helping you create strategies for a healthier lifestyle