Do you have any obsessions? How do you deal with them?
The words “alcohol dependence” or “addiction” are often used without a definition. Alcohol or drug addictions means that a person’s alcohol or other drug use has reached the point that the person cannot use without loss of control through overuse, which can produce adverse consequences in significant life areas. The addicted person often develops a psychological and/or physical dependence upon the substance. An addicted person will continue to use the substance in the face of adverse consequences.
The term alcohol or drug dependence is often used interchangeably with addiction, but here we use the term dependence to mean physical dependence on a substance, meaning that stopping use of the substance will result in withdrawal symptoms. A person can develop dependence on a substance without developing addiction; the best example of this physical dependence would be the person who takes a narcotic analgesic (pain killers such as oxycodone or morphine) as prescribed by a doctor long enough to be physically dependent on the drug, a natural, inevitable consequence of chronic use of such a drug. Under these circumstances, abruptly stopping the use of the substance will result in the withdrawal syndrome typical for the class of substance involved. Most persons with an addiction (Eg: alcoholism) are NOT physically dependent on their drug and will not experience the full-blown physical withdrawal for the substance. They will, however, experience cravings, sleeplessness, and other symptoms caused by their psychological dependence on the drug.
Alcohol or other drug problems fall within two diagnostic categories: abuse or addiction (often called dependence). Abuse basically means the person has developed a pattern of use of the substance in the face of adverse consequences in significant life areas (medically, financially, legally, problems in relationships).
Alcoholism and other drug addictions are devastating disorders that negatively impact the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health of the affected individuals. Those who care about them are also affected.
For persons diagnosed with full-blown addiction, there are abstinence-based treatment models, meaning models whose ultimate goal is abstinence from use of alcohol or other drugs. This model usually includes education, cognitive behavior therapy, and use of support programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Online addiction treatment can be helpful as long as it is part of a comprehensive program that includes traditional face-to-face counseling and other treatment interventions.
Treatment of Severe Addiction
Successful treatment of persons with full-blown alcohol or other drug addiction usually requires comprehensive treatment, including face-to-face coaching or counseling.
Online help for persons with full blown addiction problems can be helpful in the short-term, but face-to-face treatment, following a comprehensive evaluation of the addicted person, is the best approach.
Loved Ones of an Addicted Person
Spouses, lovers, friends, co-workers, parents, brothers, sisters, and sons and daughters, to name a few, can be concerned that the person they care about may have an alcohol or other drug problem. Persons close to an individual with a drug or alcohol problem often need help for their natural feelings of confusion, hurt, anger, and loneliness. Online services can provide valuable support, education, and recommendations for these concerned persons.
Persons who are depressed and thinking of harming themselves or others are also not appropriate for online help and should reach out to agencies such as Addictions Services, Mental Health, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or your local hospital, clinic, emergency services or police service.
Persons who have a pattern of using addictive substances on a daily or almost daily basis need to access face-to-face evaluation.
It is important to convey to the smoker that smoking behavior is an addiction to nicotine. The psychological and physiological processes of nicotine addiction are more powerful than heroin or cocaine. Brain receptors react to inhaled nicotine within 9 seconds and produce the paradoxical feelings of either stimulation (alertness) or tranquility (well-being) in the individual. The smoker learns to expect this effect and attaches an appropriate “meaning” to the selected situation. The addiction process is exemplified by the physiological and psychological capacity of a substance to (a) produce transient mood alternations, (b) promote compulsive use despite damage to the individual’s health, (c) reinforce use, (d) increase dosage tolerance, (e) produce a withdrawal. It is important to convey to the smoker that smoking behavior is an addiction to nicotine.
The psychological and physiological processes of nicotine addiction are more powerful. A smoking history is essential in assessing the extent of the addiction, facilitators, and impediments to cessation. Generally, the more cigarettes smoked per day, the greater the addiction. Many women believe that smoking lighter nicotine level cigarettes (“lights”) reduces the addictive and harmful effects. Often smokers will be told to switch to lighter brands when attempting to quit. This strategy is misleading because they will inhale more often and deeper per cigarette to get the desired nicotine effect. It is important to determine the amount of money a person spends on cigarettes or whether they are dependent on another person to provide the “smokes.”
A definite impediment to quitting is residing with or being in close proximity with family and friends who smoke. During the cessation process, the smoker’s social world is disrupted and new social patterns must be established to succeed in quitting. This loss of social contact and support is often too great a price to pay. It is essential to discuss these issues with the smoker at the onset of cessation and assist them in problem solving (e.g., finding new support systems).
Computer / Internet Addiction
Some people develop bad habits in their computer use that cause them significant problems in their lives. The types of behavior and negative consequences are similar to those of known addictive disorders; therefore, the term Computer or Internet Addiction has come into use.
While anyone who uses a computer could be vulnerable, those people who are lonely, shy, easily bored, or suffering from another addiction or impulse control disorder are especially vulnerable to computer abuse.
The benefits of the Internet are many: it can be an indispensable tool for work, education, and communication. While time spent on the Internet can be hugely productive, for some people compulsive Internet use can interfere with daily life, work and relationships.
When you feel more comfortable with your online friends than your real ones, or you can’t stop yourself from playing games, gambling, or compulsively surfing, even when it has negative consequences in your life, then you may be using the Internet too much. Learn about the signs and symptoms of Internet addiction and how you can get balance back in your online life.
This is the end of Part One of OBSESSIONS, Part Two is available here.