From the varied counselling and therapy work we undertake at Beacon we understand many people regularly use addictive substances or engage in potentially addictive activities, such as alcohol, gambling or sex, without having major problems.
However, we find in some people it can cause damaging physical and psychological affects, as their behaviour becomes more frequent and intense and turns into an addiction. This occurs as a result of chemical changes in the brain.
If you carry on using the substance or engaging in the behaviour, your brain and body become tolerant and you need more drugs or to spend more time on the behaviour to get the same effect. What started out as something you can control develops into an uncontrollable need or addiction.
If you try to stop, you will experience either physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms (or both). Withdrawal symptoms are wide-ranging and vary depending on the substance involved but generally you’ll experience feelings of discomfort, distress and an intense craving for the substance.
Withdrawal from alcohol is often particularly difficult because it can be complicated by seizures (fits) and hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that don’t exist outside the mind).