We divide addictions into two types:
Additions that are in relation to a substance
Among the former we count alcoholism, drug addictions, pills, tobacco, sugar, etc.
Additions in relation to a behavior.
New technologies have opened up new areas of addictions such as being in chats, checking emails, searching the Internet, playing of video games, etc.
But behaviors of every day life can also become an addiction: such as buying, playing, eating, workout, having sex, washing, cleaning and other repetitions of certain behaviors.
Some of the previously named behaviors are known more by the name of obsession or being obsessed with performing a certain behavior.
When something is missing…
An addiction usually does not come alone. Patterns of functioning are similar in all types of addictions:
We do feel an elevated level anxiety. The reasons for this anxiety vary individually. Then the we do “use” the addictive behavior more and more to calm the anxiety or not to come in contact with her. In the psychological treatment of many addictions we have found that the underlying feeling of an addiction is a lack at different ages and intensities : normally an emotional poverty of attention, love, care, affection, etc.
Abstinence causes reactions
When we omit addictive behavior, there is an increasing anxiety that we know under the name of “passing the monkey.” The addicted person has the feeling that only addictive behavior can appease this anxiety and will do everything to repeat the addictive behavior and thus lower anxiety.
It is when a vicious circle begins as the addictive behavior itself generates anxiety which in turn only calms itself. In this way additions are self-destructive circles of behaviors that do require more and more of itself.
First detox then stabilize
To start a psychological treatment of a substance withdrawal, such as drugs, alcohol or pills, etc., it is essential to have the detoxification process completed in a specialized center for this purpose. For detoxification processes we do recommend in Spain the Proyecto Hombre or please see our collaboration with Oberberg Germany
After detoxification we work on the stabilization and de-habitation process as the underlying mechanisms that support addiction.
Psychological treatment consists on the one hand to weaken the mechanisms that lead to consumption and on the other hand we seek to establish new habits that replace the old dysfunctional patterns.
Problems start with lies and hiding
Determining exactly the point from which we speak of an addition is difficult to answer since tolerances for behaviors as for substances depend very much on the person and the personal condition.
A clear sign that we face a problem is when a person begins to hide the behavior, carries out the behavior in a hidden way or begins to lie for it.
In all addictions the addictive behavior gradually increases in frequency, intensity, and duration of its execution.
Loss of social contacts in advanced stages
We are already talking about deterioration and an advanced stage of an addition when the effects of behavior begin to produce problems such as the withdrawal or loss of social contacts, the decline in work or school performance, loss of economic stability, loss of work place, neglect of personal hygiene, etc.
At the psychological level, in addictions we observe a marked increase in anxiety, high irritability up to aggression, a lack of concentration, high levels of sadness or depression, social withdrawal and even the disintegration of the family.
When total withdrawal is NOT posible
Behaviors related to communications such as internet and the use of mobile phones form part of our lives. They are not possible to be withdrawn. The same happens with behaviors that are a vital functions like: eating, drinking or having sex, movement, personal higiene etc.
All related addictions require a special focus on their treatment.
Other substances like alcohol or tobacco for example can be withdrawn completely.
We recommend treating additions in their early stages
Behaviors and underlying triggers are possible to be made conscious and being redirected if the affected person is aware of the existence of a problem and is willing to make changes.