• Melanie Rivera


Addiction can be defined as a persistent, compulsive dependence on a behaviour or substance.

Over the years, the word addiction has been used more broadly to describe mood-altering behaviours and activities. Some will differentiate the two by splitting them into two types of addiction.

The first is substance addictions, including alcoholism, drug abuse, and smoking. The second one is process addictions, including gambling, spending, shopping, eating, and sexual activity.

Being aware of the different types of support available is helpful.

Some counsellors, therapists, or wellbeing coaches only help with certain aspects of the journey (such as the emotional and self-esteem side of things). And this can be a compliment to a detox programme or be a starting point for helping to reach a point of readiness in accepting other help or programs available. In comparison, others are specifically trained to help with detox and rehabilitation.

A coaching approach tends to be much more goals and strategy orientated.

For example, a wellbeing coach might engage with what the individual is struggling with and then help and support them while they recognise and strengthen the resources necessary to make the changes they want to make. There might be some exploration and discussion around psychoeducation, including visual tools or evidence-based topics.

There is also likely to be a strong underlying theme of raising healthy self-esteem and adopting healthy habits to replace current destructive ones.

A strategic guided self-help approach might work through some aspects of change, such as the examples below:

Admitting to yourself you have a problem.

The first stage in any recovery is to acknowledge that there is a problem in the first place. Admitting this to yourself is the first step, creating an invisible platform to start the journey.

Once you have gotten to this stage, the hard work begins!

Many people will struggle to move on to the next stage of recovery.

Instead, they end up stuck in-between addiction and recovery as they battle with strong emotions of guilt, acknowledgement and justification.

Guilt will often creep in after a period of weakness, and this often includes acknowledgement of having an addiction—a vulnerable yet inspiring place to be. And a good time to take action!

Recognise the challenge

The common problem is that the power of the addiction can become so intense, and this is when the justification sets in. Unfortunately, moving beyond justification without the proper support often means that a vicious unhelpful cycle keeps going and repeats the habit.

What can you do when you have decided enough is enough?

After you have admitted that your health is suffering and (or) you have a problem that has gotten out of hand, it is time for some profound tough love. Whatever the problem is, once you have admitted that you have an addiction, the thing to acknowledge is that any prolonged use of alcohol and drugs will toxify your body.

Sooner or later, it is time to face facts!

Continued use of drugs and alcohol will impact your health. Toxins, such as ethanol from alcohol, harm your bodily organs, tissues, and other systems, resulting in an array of diseases and other health problems.

Break the silence

Admitting to yourself you have a problem is tough, but if you are going to progress through the next stage, you have to be prepared to take the next step and break your silence by telling someone else (or others) that you have a problem. Many people struggle with this part, and some liken it to admitting to other's that they are at the mercy of something more powerful than themselves, which takes a lot of courage.

Suffering in silence

It is not uncommon for people to keep their addiction a secret for months or even years. The danger is that the sufferer battles with the addiction and often more emotional distress due to the heavy burden of suffering in silence with no support.

Getting support

Essentially you have to accept where you are and not be ashamed to admit you have made some bad choices that have got you where you are. Although this step may be hard for you to do, it will be vital to getting the support you need.

Creating a folder of contacts

Having a good support network is key to recovery, and having a good list of contacts can help when you want to reach out for help and support.

Try putting a list or folder together, keeping your top contact choices in one place. For example:

1. A local GP

Ideally, choose one interested in helping with addiction or addiction-related issues. At the very least, find a doctor you can open up to and one that will refer you to the right specialist.

2. A Counsellor, Therapist or Coach

Decide what level of support you need at this time and choose wisely. Ensure that the professional has the training and experience to meet your requirements. Take advantage of any free consultations offered, so you can sense if they are a good match for you.

3. Friends, a relative or someone you trust

It is essential to choose people who do not currently have any addictions themselves. It can be very encouraging to have a few people in mind who you trust and can turn to when things get tough.

4. A selection of resources

Include a list of your favourite websites, help centres, support groups, detox centres, magazine cuttings and helpful information guides.

Tip: Put all your contacts together and safe in a diary or a folder and keep them somewhere easy to find!

Accessing therapy and other types of support is often critical for understanding triggers and making lasting change.

Common triggers include; socialising with former associations still abusing their bodies, increased stress levels, loneliness, boredom, self-pity (playing the victim role), exhaustion, overconfidence, high expectations (trying to run before you can walk, so to speak).

Understanding what triggers the behaviour

A good therapist or coach can help you develop good self-awareness. Knowing what situations trigger the action will make it easier to gain more power and control over the unconscious. The right support can help consciously steer behaviour towards healthier distractions and different behavioural habits. Keeping a journal or diary log of triggers and new actions can also help in finding alternatives improve the ability to refrain.

Changing habits and doing things to promote health and healing.

Working with a professional therapist or an addiction coach is vital for working through things safely and at the right pace for you. Therapy or coaching can also reignite your sense of purpose in life. Understanding who and what is important to you in life is essential for getting through tough times, there may still be a long road ahead, and the road ahead can challenge you at times! With the right mindset and the help of mentors, rehab/groups, healthy hobbies, and the right resources, it can be an enriching journey and help the ride along the way. Additionally, discovering ways to improve your mental wellbeing can enable you to manage stress better, build confidence, self-worth and change from the inside out.

A word of warning!

*If you are struggling with a long term high level of addiction, always consult with a doctor before trying to detox on your own. If your habit is severe, you will need medical help to begin the process. Serious long-term addiction to class A drugs can cause life-threatening physiological changes if discontinuation is abrupt without the correct support in place.

This website has lots of valuable help and resources:


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