What is addiction?
According to NHS Choices “Addiction is a strong, uncontrollable need to take drugs, drink alcohol or carry out a particular activity such as gambling”. The substance or activity to which you are addicted can take over your life, become the centre of everything you do. It can result in problems in all areas of your life and it can break up relationships, result in unemployment, lose you your home and affect everything you care about. Of course, many people enjoy using substances, drinking alcohol, gambling or exhibit a range of such behaviours without becoming addicted.
You can become addicted to an almost endless variety of things – alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, food, games, stealing and many other substances and activities. The short films on this page show people talking about their addictions.
There doesn’t appear to be a simple, single reason why some people become addicted whilst others do not. However, it does appear (according to the USA NIH website) that you could be more likely to develop an addiction if you have a combination of these factors:-
- Biology – What you are born with can account for about half of your addiction vulnerability. If your relatives have problems with addiction this increases your vulnerability. Additionally, gender, ethnicity, and the presence of mental health problems may influence risk for addiction.
- Environment – where and how you were brought up alongside factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse and stress can greatly influence addiction.
- Development – biology and environment interact with critical developmental stages in a person’s life to affect addiction vulnerability. In addition, age can influence vulnerability to addiction – adolescents may be especially prone to risk-taking behaviours.
NHS Choices suggests “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”. The thing you were once able to control becomes uncontrollable, you crave the substance or behaviour and experience withdrawal symptoms if you can’t access them. Withdrawal symptoms can vary widely, but depending on the substance or behaviour, you might experience some of the following:-
- Pain, including headaches
- Intense longing for the substance or behaviour
- Flu-like symptoms
Who can help?
The Tuke Centre does not provide a detox service and if you are addicted to alcohol or any other substances we will recommend that you contact specialist addiction services before receiving help from us. There is a wide range of organisations that provide help in addressing addiction and links to a number of them are provided to the right of this page, including some local organisations.
We can help you with the factors underlying the addiction and dealing with life after addiction, including mental health problems that accompany the addiction. If alcohol or other substances are involved, however, we will not be able to offer you therapy unless you are working with specialist services to deal with the addition.
If the addiction is largely related to a behaviour (such as gambling) rather than a substance then we can usually help you address that addiction. If your addiction is food related then our Eating Disorder Service will be able to help.
It might help to contact your GP first. He or she will provide you with help and advice and recommend specialist addiction services, both nationally and locally. If you decide that you would like to come to the Tuke Centre, then we can provide talking therapies. In some circumstances we may encourage you to ask your GP to refer you for a psychiatric assessment before offering therapy, either with one of the Tuke Centre’s psychiatrists or through the NHS. This will depend on your circumstances.
It’s very important for you to involve family and/or friends in supporting you to overcome your addiction – don’t try to do it alone, get help.
We offer a range of approaches that might help. Our Therapies section takes you through all of the different therapies we can offer that might work for you. To help you decide which approach would suit you best we offer an in-depth assessment. The section Information for Individuals on this website explains the process.
If you follow the links below you can find information, advice and guidance on a wide range of addictions. There are a number of local organisations that can help and these have been included in the links wherever possible. This list is not exhaustive and it is likely you will find many more if you search the internet.