Whether you sniff it smoke it eat it or shove it up your ass the result

is the same: addiction.”

― William S. Burroughs


Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences. Addiction is a chronic illness with physiological, psychological, social and environmental factors impacting its growth and maintenance. About half the risk of abuse is inherited. Genes influence the degree of gratification that individuals experience when they first consume a drug (e.g. marijuana) or indulge in certain activities (e.g. gambling) as well as the way the body absorbs alcohol or other drugs.

Greater motivation to re-experience the usage of a drug or activity that is possibly influenced by psychological causes (e.g. depression, background of trauma), social factors (e.g. family or peers pressure) and environmental factors (e.g. accessibility of a drug, low cost) may contribute to frequent use /exposure, which leads to changes in brain functioning. A person with an addiction uses a substance, or engages in a behavior, for which the rewarding effects may increase the urge to engage in that activity again,, despite devastating consequences. Addiction involves the use of substances such as alcohol, inhalants, opioids, cocaine, and nicotine, or behaviors such as gambling. Because addiction affects the brain’s core functions, individuals who develop an addiction may not even be aware that their behavior is causing problems for themselves and others. Over time, pursuit of the pleasurable effects of the substance or behavior starts dominating an individual’s activities and his behavior in social situations. Substance use and gambling disorders are complex conditions that affect the reward, reinforcement, motivation, and memory systems of the brain. They are characterized by impaired control over behaviour; social impairment, disruption of everyday activities and personal relationships; Continuous usage could prove to be quite harmful to your health, your family, your relationships as well as obligations at work or school.


The most obvious risk factor is taking an illicit or mood-altering substance. But this is not it. ​Addiction is a multifaceted disorder that results from the convergence of various biological, psychological and environmental risk factors. The exposure to a sufficiently high dose of a toxic drug for a long period (e.g. week – month), even in persons with a relatively low genetic risk, may contribute to dependence.

Biological factorsGenes – It has long been established that genetic factors coupled with environmental factors are significant contributors to the susceptibility of addiction.studies estimate that genetic factors are accountable for 40–60% of the risk factors for alcoholism and drug abuse. Heredity is a significant contributing factor for dependency. According to the national institute on drug abuse, up to half of the risk of tobacco, smoking or other narcotics is dependent on genes. When you have family members that have developed abuse, you’re more likely to encounter it as well.

  • Males are more prone to develop substance use disorder than females, but the so-called gender difference could be narrowing for substance use disorder, and females are more likely to report intoxication at lower alcohol levels.

Psychological Factors

  • Personality factors. Both Impulsivity and pleasure seeking have been linked to substance use and gambling disorders. Impulsivity may particularly contribute to the likelihood of relapse in the future.
  • Trauma – trauma, encountered at any stage of life is a major indicator that a person is susceptible to addiction. And a surprisingly large proportion of those suffering from addiction have a history of trauma..Indeed, almost two thirds of drug or alcohol addicts have experienced one or more forms of trauma, especially child abuse.
  • Mental health factors. Conditions such as depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)make a person prone to addiction. Substance use is often correlated with problems in controlling intense emotions.

Environmental Factors

  • Family – Although close family bonds have been shown to protect against drug use disorders, several aspects of family life or circumstances may lead to the likelihood of addiction. Getting a parent or a sibling with an addiction illness presents a danger, as does lack of parental supervision or assistance. Bad or dysfunctional parent-child relationships and family disturbances, such as divorce, often lead to one’s likelihood of sexual, physical or emotional violence. Research indicates that marriage and taking upon child-raising obligations increases the likelihood of addiction among adults.
  • Accessibility – Easy availability of alcohol or other substances in one’s home, at school or work, or in one’s community increases the risk of repeated use.The easy access of a drug in your social circle can significantly increase the chances of addiction. For example, large quantities of alcohol are accessible in a variety of social environments that are common with college students.
  • Peer group.- peer groups are another major risk factor for addiction especially amongst youngsters and teens. people are strongly impacted by their peers and can, and in order to be accepted by them, imitate many of their actions, particularly during adolescence. On the other side, healthy social interactions are considered to guard strongly against drug use.


Psychological symptoms

  • Continuous abuse despite prevailing health problems: even after developing related illnesses, the patient may continue to use the substance regularly. For example, despite contracting a lung or heart condition, a smoker may continue to smoke. They may or may not be aware of the adverse health impact of the substance or the behavior.
  • Dealing with stress – a person with addiction commonly feels the need to consume the drug in order to escape ongoing stress or any problems in his life. Likewise, individuals who are already suffering from anxiety and depression, may resort to alcohol to relieve themselves.
  • Taking large doses: This is common with alcohol use disorder. The individual may rapidly consume large quantities of alcohol in order to feel the effects of the drug. And they may keep consuming it until they feel the desired effects.

Physical symptoms

Repeatedly using a substance can have a profound impact on a range of bodily functions and systems which could be life threatening.

  • Withdrawal symptoms: – withdrawal symptoms are experienced when an alcohol or drug addict suddenly stops substance use or significantly reduces intake. When you experience withdrawal, you may experience a number of physical and emotional symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, mild anxiety and headache. They may also resort to uncharacteristic behavior like violence.
  • Appetite changes: Some substances alter a person’s appetite. Marijuana consumption, for example, might greatly increase their appetite while cocaine may reduce it.
  • Prone to damage or disease: Smoking substances, for example, tobacco , can lead to incurable respiratory diseases and lung cancers. Injecting illicit drugs can lead to limb damage and problems with veins and arteries, in some cases leading to the development of infection and possible loss of a limb. Regularly consuming excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to chronic liver problems which may prove to be fatal in the future.
  • Sleeplessness: Insomnia is a common symptom of withdrawal. Using illicit stimulants, such as heroin or cocaine , might encourage a disrupted sleep cycle, as a person might stay up late for several nights in a row to go to parties and use the substance. Sleep deprivation could affect a person’s performance at work or school.
  • Change in appearance: A person may begin to appear more disheveled, tired, and haggard during the whole day. They may not be able to concentrate during work and may remain absent from work and school.
  • Increasing tolerance: The body experiences reduced effects of the substance over time, so a person feels the urge to take more of it until he develops the tolerance for that substance.

When to discover the need for counselling

For some people, drug abuse soon spirals into addiction especially men. When this happens, consuming drugs becomes a normal activity that can affect both physical health and mental health.Addiction is more than just a physical dependence on drugs or alcohol. Even after detox, if you don’t control yourself and get lured by addictive substances, then you’re at a high risk for relapse. In that case, seeking early help is the key. Treatment for drug addiction takes patience and support, so seeking professional help is a great first step. Counseling helps you escape those urges and learn to manage what life throws at you without drugs or alcohol being involved.

  • Several counseling therapies are used to treat substance abuse. No one method is known to be better than another. Likewise, no one approach works for everyone with addiction. The counselor will use the treatment plan according to your individual needs.

Therapeutic alliance ( what to expect from the counselling  session)The decision to seek treatment for addiction is not an easy one, and requires a great degree of trust between the patients and their counselors. counselors should take care to create a strong bond with their patients, known as a therapeutic alliance. A therapeutic alliance is the trust patients feel with their counselors, allowing them to feel secure and venting out their problems effortlessly with the counselor.

A strong alliance like this ensures that patients view their counselors as trustworthy, and know that the counsellor has their best interests in mind.  This allows counselors and patients to work together even during tough times. A good Therapeutic alliance is a major milestone on the road of addiction recovery. By creating an environment where patients feel comfortable while discussing their hardships, counselors can better help their clients on the path to recovery.

Once the decision to pursue treatment has been made, it’s important that patients are well equipped to avoid future relapses. Preventing relapse requires more than just the willpower to say “no” when temptation arises, so prevention needs to begin early during the healing process. Developing a comprehensive relapse prevention plan is an essential function of the counselor’s role in addiction recovery. The Plans would be custom made with respect to the needs of each individual patient, During the treatment, it’s important that the family should be well educated on how to handle their family member’s current condition. Counselors can help patient’s families in a variety of ways, from organizing timely family therapy sessions, to helping them locate a support group. The support of friends and family plays a key role in recovering from addiction. Since recovery is a lifelong journey, having supportive family members who understand the process is of supreme importance. Family members who are informed about addiction recovery can greatly increase chances of success throughout the recovery process, and could help the addicts in getting their life back on track. Substance abuse counselors can help families understand the complex road to recovery, and offer support for the difficult journey ahead. There are a variety of outside resources like local support groups and community programs available to those recovering from addiction which could reap great benefits when combined with counseling treatment. These community based programs provide an additional layer of accountability to those seeking rehabilitation, and by attending meetings, patients will be surrounded by individuals with similar backgrounds, and can further share their stories, wisdom, and struggles in a non-judgemental environment.

Takeaway from the session

The role of the counselor in addiction treatment involves far more than just talking an addict through the treatment. Counselors have to be highly empathetic people, who have a passion for building positive relationships with their patients. From providing a comfortable environment for patients to openly talk about their struggles with addiction, to guiding family members through the recovery process, to addressing plans to avoid relapse, counselors have the key responsibility in addiction recovery. The path to recovery is rarely straight: Relapse, or recurrence of substance use, is common—but certainly not the end of the road. For those who achieve remission of an addiction disorder for five years, the likelihood of relapse is no greater than that among the general population.







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