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Facing the challenges of addiction

Addiction is becoming an increasing world –wide issue.

Addiction gradually became a problem due to abuse and excess use of some group of drugs including but not limited to heroin, opium, cocaine, alcohol and their derivatives.

Drugs of addiction have been in use for various purposes like rituals, recreation and pain management for centuries. A Daily Mail online article published in 2015 described how humans were taking drugs like magic mushrooms and opium as far back as 10,600 years ago. It explained that traces of opium seeds have been found on human remains 4000 years old. There is also some historical evidence that hallucinogenic cacti may have been used in Peru as long ago as 8,600BC.

Since then the world has changed a lot and today addiction has a broader meaning and is an epidemic worldwide.

Addiction is defined as lacking control in doing, taking or using something to the extent that it is harmful to somebody. It is no surprise then that it is estimated by charity Action on Addiction that one in three of us are addicted to something. At first glance, this may sound unreal and farfetched but addiction covers more than your standard definition of what somebody can be addicted to {bearing in mind it is anything that you seem to lack control of and which has the potential to cause physical, emotional, psychological , social and financial problems}.

Somebody can be addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, work, nicotine, computer games, sugar, caffeine, bad news, Smartphone and the list goes on. I can here you say, Smartphone!, yes it is called nomophobia which is a 21st century term for fear of not being able to use your smart phone or other smart device. In fact there is an online quiz which you can do to determine if you are addicted to smart phone and by what degree. Follow this link https://edition.cnn.com/2017/11/30/health/smartphone-addiction-study/index.html and try it and see how addicted you are to your smart devices.

Health consequences of addiction: The health implication of addiction is endless. It ranges from the minor issues of stiffness, aches and pains from hours on the smart phone or computer to a  more serious issues of anxiety , lack of sleep{insomnia} and depression.  Other grave health issues include gastrointestinal bleeding, headaches, dizziness, high blood pressure, exhaustion, convulsion, stroke, heart attack and paranoia from drug and alcohol abuse. This could lead to irreversible physical organ damage and consequently death in the most extreme of cases.

Cost of addiction: There is always a price to pay due to addiction. The price tag is dependent on a lot of factors ranging from how early the issue was detected and help available. A debate pack produced for the House of Commons in 2017 stated that the overall annual cost of drug misuse in UK in 2014 was around £15.4 billion. It estimated that £13.9 billion was due to drug-related crime and the cost to National Health Service {NHS} was around £0.5 billion. The help to an addict is more impactful if friends, families and agencies offer a concerted effort to the person with the problem. The cost is not only to the addicts but to the friends and family. A policy paper from the UK drug policy commission estimated that family of drug misusers bear a lot of cost due to addiction of their loved ones. It estimated that in 2009, nearly 1.5 million adult will be affected by a family member’s drug misuse. The costs of harm to family members are estimated at £1.8 billion per year. It is estimated that family members would have spent over £750 million which would have been a cost to NHS or local authorities. Now this is only the financial cost of one type of addiction {drug}. It will be mind-boggling to begin to imagine the financial, human, social etc costs of all other types of addictions combined.

Addiction can also affect not only the person’s quality of life and health, but job, social and family relationship as well.  There are many instances where people have lost their marriages, relationships, jobs, personal identity and their homes because they were held captive by addictions.  Addiction also drives the friends and acquaintances of the addicts away. This may lead to the addict dabbling into crimes and illicit activities to fund their habit without any holdback or checks. Addiction is also a massive cost to the society and the government in general. The life of the addict is not the only one at stake here, but also the victims of their crime. Some of these victims are those killed on road accidents by drivers under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

Where can I find help?

One of the major obstacles to tackling addiction is admitting the problem. Sometimes people are in denial of the gravity of their problems. There could be a blame game, where finger is being pointed to a friend, family and circumstances for the addiction.

Therefore, acknowledging the problem is an important step on the road to tackling addiction. A willingness to seek and ask for help is another crucial step in tackling addiction. There are many institutions or practices that are well-placed in offering treatment options and services in cases of addiction. Your local general practitioner {GP} surgery is always a good place to start in seeking help for addiction.  The GP can then refer the person on, depending on the type and degree of addiction.  Some of the organizations available for help include the Alcohol Anonymous, Narcotic Anonymous, drug addiction teams, Frank {talktofrank.com} on 03001236600.

Psychosocial support, counselling and psychotherapy are important tools in management of addiction. Mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy {CBT} are examples of such psychotherapeutic approach in management of addiction.

Rekindle Counselling and Therapy uses CBT and hypnotherapy in helping people to combat various forms of addictions. For more information and to book an appointment visit www.rekindlecounsellingandtherapy.co.uk or call 07845124199 or email: joseph.okoye@rcandt.co.uk


Practical advice/self-help

It is very clear that tackling addiction of any sort requires deliberate and concerted effort. Family members, friends, various organizations and the society play an important role in supporting those battling various forms of addiction. However the person involved needs to do his/her part in breaking free from the clutches of addiction. Making certain conscious decisions, though difficult will contribute to the success of breaking free from the cycle of addiction.

Although these points are not exhaustive, they will help the individual on the road to recovery;

-Accept responsibility for your current problem.

  • Admit that you do it because you like it, even though it’s bad for you.
  • Try to overcome self-denial and don’t justify it by saying everybody is doing it.
  • Admit it is your fault and don’t say somebody else got me into it.

-Make a conscious decision to put your past behind you and look ahead.

  • Because you have failed a few times doesn’t mean you can’t succeed.
  • Call your failures a learning experience and believe you can succeed.

-Talk to your feeling and give your ‘will and thought’ a little credit.

  • Challenge your feelings and talk back to it. So when you feel like eating, drinking or battling any addiction, don’t give in. Let your thoughts and action say otherwise.


-Start believing you can change.

  • Your belief challenges and controls your behaviour.
  • Speak out and give your belief a voice.


-Make yourself accountable to someone.

  • Trusted friends or family to call upon when the pressure and urge is on.
  • Someone to check on you and encourage you.
  • Someone who is committed to stay and see you through your issues.
  • Someone who is able to keep your issues private and confidential.


-Avoid the source {place, person and environment} of addiction.

  • Plan in advance to avoid such triggers.
  • Don’t keep such triggers at home or within easy reach.


-Rely on and look up to somebody who has succeeded and powerful for help and support.


For counselling and therapy, contact RCT on 07845124199 or email joseph.okoye@rcandt.co.uk