Addiction to alcohol and other drugs is a chronic disease. It is progressive, continuous and long-term.
Alcohol or drug abuse means that a person has no control over whether they drink or use.
Historically, the term addiction has been used for alcohol or drugs, but we are now aware of other addictive behaviours, like gambling or sex addiction, which can seriously impact the lives of the individual and their families.
People who suffer from addiction engage in compulsive behaviour and lose control of their lives. They feed their addiction, even when they know it will lead to negative consequences. They tend to have low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.
It is not uncommon for people to turn to drugs or alcohol to escape their problems, but this only postpones dealing with the issue. When the effect wears off unhappiness and anxiety come back stronger.
Drink and drugs can cause psychological problems, depression and drugs can trigger anxiety.
If someone in your life suffers from addictive behaviour, you will have experienced their extreme behaviour, from depression to exhilaration. You will also have experienced their denial. Dishonesty, disappointment and ruined relationships — these are hallmark behaviours.
Addiction can affect people from all parts of society. There is a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. Men seem more susceptible to the traits of their parents, while women may be more affected by environmental factors, such as financial and life circumstances.
It is very important to be honest with your doctor and let them know if you are an alcoholic, have ever been addicted to any drug, have taken prescribed drugs for a long time or take prescription drugs with alcohol.
Anna Dallavalle is a counsellor working with individuals and couples and has a private practice in Morpeth. For information visit www.steppingstonesne.co.uk