In 2018, it was estimated that 5.4% of the global population experienced addictions to illegal drugs.
In Denmark, 15.4% of adults between 16 and 34 have used drugs. 66% of this group use cannabis, and 16% take cocaine. Source; European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 2019
While this data is important, it’s also crucial to remain aware that addiction can be about much more than drug use, which we will explore together now.
What is addiction?
Addiction is a complex, multifaceted state of being that affects every affected person in a unique way. If you think you might be an addict, but don’t fall into the addiction stereotypes, it’s still worth us exploring this together.
More often than not, we correlate addiction with illegal substance misuse or alcoholism. But in reality, you can become addicted to anything – including behaviours and people – and any addiction can be detrimental to your wellbeing and that of those around you.
Some of the most common and easily-spotted addictions are:
- Alcohol. With alcohol being so readily available and legal in most countries, it is easy to access and become dependent on. For this reason, it is also one of the most difficult substances to abstain from.
- Illegal drugs. Substances like heroin, crack, powdered cocaine and cannabis are some of the most abused chemicals available. They all create physical and psychological addiction and often need medical assistance to stop using.
- Prescription drugs. In 2019, more than 10 million people in the U.S reported misusing prescription opioids and about 130 people in the U.S. die each day due to fatal opioid overdose. It is easy to get hooked on prescription drugs given that they are readily available via a doctor.
- Sex. Sex addiction involves excessive sexual activity that takes over your life. You might cheat on your partner, watch excessive porn, and generally find it hard to function without a sexual fix.
- Gambling. Arguably one of the most devastating addictions is gambling. This is where you will spend money you don’t have on an out-of-control gambling habit that could see you lose your house, partner, job and sense of self.
- Co-dependency. A lesser known addiction, yet a very serious one. Co-dependency is viewed as an addiction to a person – often someone in chaos who needs ‘fixing’. Co-dependency can see you abandon your own needs and values and spend your entire life dedicated to helping someone else, ultimately at your own expense.
- Internet. Internet addiction is a more modern addiction as smart technology becomes more commonplace in our lives. Some can become addicted to the internet (including internet shopping or gaming) to the point where it takes over their lives and causes poor mental health.
- Food. Eating disorders can be categorised as an addiction and can include anorexia, binge eating and bulimia. Eating disorders can be deadly and it is crucial you get the help you need if you think you have an addictive or unhealthy relationship with food.
The power of addiction
The power of addiction cannot be overstated. People who live with chronic addiction problems can lose their homes, children, family, friends, jobs – and often their lives – due to their addiction. But beyond that, addiction is all-consuming. It can become more than just a crutch for self-regulation and develop into your sole reason for living. If you are worried about a spiralling addiction, it’s important to seek help as soon as you can to prevent the consequences from worsening.
Often, it is those around us that spot the addiction before we do. Sometimes this is because the very nature of our problem makes it impossible to see it objectively (not seeing the wood for the trees, so to speak). Combined with this is a sense of denial – which is, effectively, your mind telling you that there is no problem, so that you can continue to feed your addiction. Here are some signs that you might be experiencing an addiction problem:
Common behaviours associated with addiction are:
- Secret keeping / lying / hiding ourselves or our habits
- Blaming others for our problems or making excuses
- Finding reasons to feed the addiction (e.g. I had a bad day at work, I deserve this drink).
- Having relationship problems / arguments / not sustaining relationships for long
- Sabotaging important life features (job, marriage, finances)
- Defensiveness when challenged about the addiction
Common emotions associated with addiction are:
- Anger / resentment
- Hopelessness / Sorrow
- Depression / suicidal thoughts
- Helplessness / no control
These emotions are truly challenging. But with the right help, you can learn about the interrelation between your emotions and your addiction and begin the process of healing in a holistic way.
Acknowledgement of addiction
Before getting effective help with an addiction, it is important to acknowledge its presence. You might find you have already reached this realisation, or you can do this with the help of therapy. Once you have acknowledged your problem, recovery is possible.
Getting the support you need
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Whichever help and support you need, my pledge to you is consistent.
Book a free 15 minute conversation, which is all you need to begin your journey. We will talk about where you are now, where you want to be, and how I can help you get there.