The psychological effects of addiction

Addictions

By the time a habit has turned into an addiction it will have taken over your life almost completely, the addiction will now be all you think about and how you can get more of it. It will now be affecting your thoughts, feelings and behaviour to the point where nothing else in your life matters.

How does addiction affect the mind?

An addiction will affect a person’s outlook on life and their attitude and can seriously begin to change their personality. This doesn’t only apply to addictions of alcohol, cigarettes or drugs but to any type of addiction. How addiction affects the mind can be divided into two parts, those that relate to our thinking and those that relate to our feelings.

An example of this would be the person suffering from addiction may begin to avoid others this will then lead to a feeling of isolation and shame of being unable to cope. To help deal with this feeling the person then turns back to their addiction and go round and round in a circle.

Feeling

A lot of the feelings due to addiction stems from not being able to take control or the lack of control, feelings such as shame or guilt come from the way the person is behaving. Many who are addicted to drugs or alcohol will steal to continue with their addiction and it isn’t easy living with the knowledge that you have stolen from friends or relatives to support your addiction.

The only way you can overcome this guilt is by turning to your addiction more and so continues the vicious circle again. Other feelings stem from the mess the person has gotten themselves into through their addiction and the effects it’s having on their day to day life.

People whose addiction is drugs often have to deal with mood altering problems, they take drugs to alter their mood in the short term but continued use of drugs over the long term has an increased effect on the feelings from which they were trying to escape in the first place.

Common feelings are

  • Depression – These feelings will range greatly from feeling very low to helplessness and suicide.
  • Anxiety – Feelings such as these will range from fear to total paranoia.
  • Loss of self-esteem – Feelings can range from hating oneself to shame and guilt.
  • Lack of confidence – Feelings related to anxiety and depression.
  • Anger – Feelings range from being easily irritated to explosive behaviour.
  • Boredom – The addiction becomes repetitive.

Thinking

Much of the addicts thinking are defensive in order to protect their addiction, some thinking is in response to the stress of the lifestyle of the addict.

Common feelings affecting thought are

  • Dependency on others – believing others are responsible for your problem and putting the blame on them.
  • Trying to deny reality – lying to yourself and others that your situation is not as bad as it really is.
  • Obsessing – focusing entirely on the addiction and getting more of it.
  • Putting yourself ahead of others – thinking you are better than everyone else and more important.
  • Thinking “if only” – focusing on anything but the problem your addiction has become.
  • Self harming – Thinking thoughts of self harm as ways to escape your problem or bring an ease to your suffering.
  • Losing mental ability – losing the ability to concentrate and losing your memory.

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