Recognising addiction can be a difficult process. The transition from recreational engagement with a substance or activity into an addictive relationship can be imperceptible to the person involved, and it may not be until this relationship exerts a destructive force on that person and the people around them that a problem is identified.
Some signs that you may have a problem with addiction include:
- Setting limits on your use of a substance or activity and then exceeding those limits.
- Making promises to yourself about your use that you later break.
- Lying to yourself and others about your frequency of use.
- Developing a high tolerance to a substance or activity, so that you no longer feel its effects in the way you once did, even when using larger amounts.
- Using the morning after to mask the feelings of a hangover or the symptoms of withdrawal.
- Behaving very differently whilst using, and then forgetting things which you may have done whilst under the influence.
- Feeling guilty and embarrassed about what you have done whilst under the influence.
- Avoiding functions at which your substance or activity of choice is not available.
- Missing work or social responsibilities because of your use.
Getting High, Feeling Low
The cycle of addiction is characterised by the rush of getting high, followed by the low of coming down.
At the heart of this cycle is the brain chemical Dopamine. During use the pleasure centre of the brain is flooded with Dopamine, creating the “high” to which a person can become addicted. Once the high is over, Dopamine levels reduce again, leading to the “low” which follows. Dopamine levels can become especially low if a person begins to move into withdrawal.
Over time, this continued stimulation of Dopamine activity in the brain can lead to a de-sensitisation of the receptors which recognise dopamine. As a result, increased use is required to elicit a high, anxiety, depression and pain occur when not using, and the cycle of addiction becomes entrenched.
Treatment options at Thrive
At Thrive we offer Acupuncture treatment which has been proven to regulate Dopamine activity in the brain, reducing the difficult symptoms such as pain, anxiety and depression which can be associated with withdrawal from addiction.
We also offer training in Mindfulness meditation techniques that can help calm the mind and break negative patterns of thinking associated with addiction.