Addiction is characterised by repetitive compulsive behaviours to reward a stimuli despite the adverse consequences. When engaging in these compulsive behaviours, our brain releases a ‘feel good’ chemical called dopamine, which encourages us to repeat the behaviour consecutively. Eventually, regardless of the harmful and negative consequences this behaviour may have on our lives, we comply and engage in the activity to feel that ‘high’.
Addiction does not only include substance abuse including alcohol and various types of drugs. It also includes sex, porn, gambling, shopping, exercise, and social media activities amongst others.
When counselling for addiction, the client is first psycho-educated for the type of addiction they have so that they can understand the problem and their own symptoms in regard to it. Practical goals are then set within necessary timeframes in order to proceed with therapy. During counselling, the therapist will target areas regarding triggers, cravings, increasing other behavioural activities, developing effective cognitive strategies, challenging addictive thinking and beliefs, and finally understanding lapses to plan ahead for their future. The therapist will also consider other comorbid symptoms such as depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, etc. that may be related to the addiction.