“A hurt is at the centre of all addictive behaviours.” Gabor Maté
It is not something that only happens to bad or weak people and it has nothing to do with a person’s will power or character. It is a treatable condition, like many other diseases. People who suffer from addiction can recover and live happy fulfilled lives. All addictions have the same root causes and the same recovery principles apply to all of them. The roots of addiction lie in a painful experience, whether felt openly or hidden in the subconscious. ”Unconditional acceptance of each other is one of the greatest challenges we humans face. Few of us have experienced it consistently; the addict has never experienced it – least of all from himself.” Gabor Maté, In the realm of Hungry Ghosts.
”I am not afraid of dying,” an addict once told me. ”I am more afraid of living” Gabor Maté
What is addiction?
”Addiction is any repeated behaviour, substance-related or not, in which a person feels compelled to persist, regardless of its negative impact on his life and the lives of others. Compulsion, impaired control, persistence, irritability, relapse and craving are hallmarks of an addiction.”
”If you are in doubt whether you are addicted – ask yourself one simple question: Given the harm you’re doing to yourself and others – are you willing to stop? If not, you’re addicted. And if you unable to renounce the behaviour or to keep your pledge when you do, you’re addicted.” – Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts
”Smoking is for example one of the strongest addictions, ranking up there with cocaine and heroin on pharmaceutical addictiveness. It is also the deadliest. It kills 650 out of every 100 000 people while only 4 people out of 100 000 is killed by cocaine.” Johann Hari – Chasing the scream. Although cigarettes contain nicotine that is physically addictive, the action of lighting up 20 to 30 times per day causes a strong psychological addiction compared to a person that uses heroin or cocaine once or twice a day. It is the frequency in using that makes smoking one of the hardest addictions to break.
Addiction is described by Johann Hari as the psychological state of feeling you need the drug to give you the sensation of feeling calmer, or manic or numb. It is the same whether you are addicted to caffeine or meth. That is why you can nurse a patient through detox till all the the withdrawal symptoms have disappeared. They perhaps live a few weeks or months without their drug and then have a relapse. It is not the chemical hook they crave – because they are no longer physically dependent. Gabor Maté describes addiction as a ”flight from distress”.
Bruce Alexander who did the Ratpark experiment concluded that everything we knew about addiction is wrong. Currently we look at addicts as individuals who has to sort out themselves. Threats and force has not helped addicts recover – it has made addictions worsen. He argues that we should stop thinking like this and rather think about ”social recovery”. He and others like Gabor Maté and Johann Hari says we have been asking the wrong questions.
Better questions to ask are: How can we build a society where people don’t feel so alone and afraid? How do we build a society where we can form healthier bonds, where we look for happiness in one another rather than in consumption? We live in a world where we are becoming increasingly more disconnected from one another. Cut of from one another, isolated, we are all becoming addicts – and he says our biggest addiction as a culture is buying and consuming things we don’t need and don’t really want.
Substance Addiction vs Process Addiction
Addictions do not only include physical things we consume, such as drugs or alcohol, but may include virtually anything, such abstract things as gambling to seemingly harmless products, such as chocolate – in other words, addiction may refer to a substance dependence (e.g. drug addiction) or behavioural addiction (e.g. gambling addiction)
Process Addiction is a relatively new way of describing an addiction to an activity, or a process, that does not involve taking brain-affecting substances such as cannabis, alcohol, cigarettes or hard drugs. The term Process Addiction covers addictions such as over-eating, compulsive shopping, the compulsive need for sex (sex addiction), or porn (porn addiction), compulsive gambling (gambling addiction), or compulsive computer game playing (computer game addiction). Although Substance Addiction and Process Addiction describe two types of addiction, they are similar in many ways.
Both types of addiction cause similar harm to a person’s social and emotional life, and the lives of those around them.
How do I know I am addicted?
According to the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) of the American Psychiatric Association, a person would have to have at least 3 of the following 7 criteria in the same year to be addicted to something:
(Diminution in the body’s response to a drug after continued use)
- Need to increase amount taken to achieve same effect in body
- The same amount taken do not have the same effect anymore because body got used to the amount.
(Discontinuation of the use of an addictive substance. The physiological and mental readjustment that accompanies such discontinuation.)
- Person display withdrawal symptoms when substance is not taken anymore.
- Person uses a replacement substance to mask or prevent withdrawal symptoms
3. Increase in use
The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
4. Constant Struggle to control/cut down
There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance abuse.
5. Life organised to sustain addiction
A great deal of time is spend in activities necessary to obtain the substance (such as visiting multiple doctors or driving long distances.)
6. Life organised around addiction
Important social, occupational or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of substance abuse.
7. Health problems is ignored
The substance abuse is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physiological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance.
Risks of addiction
People with an addiction do not have control over what they are doing, taking or using. Their addiction may reach a point at which it is harmful. Abused substances produces some forms of intoxication that alters judgement, perception, attention or physical control.
Many substances can bring on withdrawal – an effect caused by cessation or reduction in the amount of the substance used. Withdrawal can range from mild anxiety to seizures and hallucinations.
Drugs may also cause death. Drugs are not regulated or made by reputable pharmaceutical companies, like for example alcohol. If you buy a bottle of alcohol, the label gives you the precise % of alcohol it contains. Most drugs however are manufactured in doggy labs by unscrupulous people, then again cut by dealers and mixed with more dangerous substances to increase amounts. You have no way of knowing what the drug you are taking actually contains. In that lies the risk of an overdose – as seen with recent deaths worldwide because of the drug Fentanyl.
Nearly all drugs can produce a phenomenon known as tolerance where you must use a larger amount of the drug to produce the same level of intoxication.
The biggest problem an addict faces is deciding to make the change.
Types of Addiction
Types of substance addiction: (DSM -IV-TR)
- Anabolic steroids
- Dagga / Marijuana
- KHAT / Methcathinone
- Nyaope / Whoonga
- Prescription drug abuse
- Prescription drugs (Ritalin / Concerta)
- Special K
- TIK / Methamphetamine
Types of behavioral addiction (DSM-IV-TR)
- Intermittent explosive disorder
- Internet & gaming addiction
- Pain (seeking)
- Self harm
- Spiritual obsession
- Video games
Prevention is better than cure.
FACT: Children from nurturing homes have a better overall chance of survival and resilience against social ills for example experimenting with drugs.
What can you as a parent can do to provide a nurturing home where healthy, happy and resilient kids can grow into adulthood?
The 10 Principles of Good Parenting
1. Set a good example always.
What you do, matters. Kids follow the example you set – they do as you do, not as you say. Don’t just react on the spur of the moment. Ask yourself, ‘What do I want to accomplish, and is this likely to produce that result? Pay attention to your child spiritual and moral development. They should get to know God. The Bible is the foundation for every rule we live by as responsible citizens. There is a saying that says: A family that prays together, stays together.
2. Love your child.
Showing love to a child, can never spoil the child. What can spoil a child is when you replace love with material possessions, lowered expectations or leniency, because it is too much effort to give love and attention to a child. Make time daily to read a story to a young child. Have family rituals like supper at a table for everyone. Celebrate special days as a family.
3. Be involved in your child’s life.
Being an involved parent takes time and is hard work, and it often means rethinking and rearranging your priorities. It frequently means sacrificing what you want to do for what your child needs to do. Be there mentally as well as physically. N.S. Being involved does not mean doing a child’s homework Homework is a tool for teachers to know whether the child is learning or not. If you do the homework, you’re not letting the teacher know what the child is learning.
4. Protect your child from stress, violence and trauma.
A young child’s brain is very sensitive to stress and trauma. Prolonged exposure to stress and trauma will cause permanent changes in the child’s brain. Consider what they may watch on TV. Use blockers to protect them from harmful content on their cell-phones or computers. Get help fast if you experience domestic violence in your home.
5. Establish and set rules.
If you don’t manage your child’s behavior when he is young, he will have a hard time learning how to manage himself when he is older and you aren’t around. Any time of the day or night, you should always be able to answer these three questions: Where is my child? Who is with my child? What is my child doing? The rules your child has learned from you are going to shape the rules he applies to himself.
6. Foster your child’s independence.
Setting limits helps your child develop a sense of self-control. Encouraging independence helps her develop a sense of self-direction. To be successful in life, she’s going to need both.
It is normal for children to push for autonomy. Many parents mistakenly equate their child’s independence with rebelliousness or disobedience. Children push for independence because it is part of human nature to want to feel in control rather than to feel controlled by someone else.
7. Be consistent.
If your rules vary from day to day in an unpredictable fashion or if you enforce them only intermittently, your child’s misbehaviour is your fault, not his. Your most important disciplinary tool is consistency. Identify your non-negotiable s. The more your authority is based on wisdom and not on power, the less your child will challenge it. When parents aren’t consistent, children get confused. You have to force yourself to be more consistent.
8. Avoid harsh discipline.
Parents should never hit a child, under any circumstances. Children who are spanked, hit, or slapped are more prone to fighting with other children. They are more likely to be bullies and more likely to use aggression to solve disputes with others. There are better ways to discipline children – for example time out: no TV, no play-time with friends, no cell phone, no playing PlayStation games.
9. Explain your rules and decisions.
Good parents have expectations they want their child to live up to. Generally, parents over explain to young children and under explain to adolescents. What is obvious to you may not be evident to a 12-year-old. He doesn’t have the priorities, judgment or experience that you have.
10. Treat your child with respect.
The best way to get respectful treatment from your child is to treat him respectfully. You should give your child the same courtesies you would give to anyone else. Speak to him politely. Respect his opinion. Pay attention when he is speaking to you. Treat him kindly. Try to please him when you can. Children treat others the way their parents treat them. Your relationship with your child is the foundation for her relationships with others. If you have a good relationship, and you’re really in tune with your child, that’s what really matters. Then none of this will be an issue
Want to quit?
The First Rule of Recovery
You don’t recover from an addiction by stopping using. You recover by creating a new life where it is easier to not use. If you don’t create a new life, then all the factors that brought you to your addiction will eventually catch up with you again.
You don’t have to change everything in your life. But there are a few things and behaviors that have been getting you into trouble, and they will continue to get you into trouble until you let them go. The more you try to hold onto your old life in recovery, the less well you will do.
Recover from Addiction Program
MobieG has developed an online learning campus that offers easy step-by-step online learning.
Should you talk to a counselor? If you answer yes to even one of the questions below – you should.
- Do you feel guilty for your behaviour?
- Do you make promises to stop drinking/drug use?
- Do you find yourself trying to justify the way you feel and act?
- Have you given up responsibility for your addiction?
- Do you feel alone, rejected, fearful, angry, guilty or exhausted?
- Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
- Do you ever use alone?
- Do you avoid people or places that do not approve of you using drugs?
- Have you ever tried to stop or control your using?
- Have you ever lied about what or how much you use?
You can do a self-test quiz on addiction:
MobieG Online Counselling
Talk to us, we can help! You can chat to an on-line facilitator on the LIVE CHAT .
You may stay anonymous. The counselling service is free of charge.
Online times: Sundays: 18h00 – 20h00 ; Mondays – Thursdays: 19h00 – 21h00
You can join our Addiction Support Group every Wednesday evening from 20h00-21h30.
You can book counselling sessions for Porn & Sex Addiction, Substance Addiction, Alcohol Addiction & Gambling Addiction with one of our therapists:
”In the realm of Hungry Ghosts”. Gabor Maté. 2018
”Chasing the scream. The first and last days of the war on drugs”. Johann Hari. 2018