Have you wondered whether you have an addictive problem?

Addictions present in many forms. Drugs, alcohol, food, caffeine, and nicotine are some of those. Other behaviors without the substance may also have the repetitive feeling of a spinning cycle that won’t stop. Even enabling behaviors of those who care for someone with an addiction struggle to help with no end in site.

Are you in a cycle that seems to stop but keeps coming back?

Perhaps there are times that you actually stop the spinning cycle of use. At these times you are feeling successful that you are able to overcome behaviors that make you feel helpless and out of control. You may be able to stop it for a day or a few days, or even a week or more. Then it comes back. Do you know why? The brain never forgets its attachments. Even if you haven’t ridden a bicycle for years, you can jump on and ride it as though you never missed a day. The same way it is with addictions, the brain doesn’t forget and the familiar patterns simply perpetuate the same behaviors.

You are not alone…

Over 20 million Americans are reported to have an addiction. It is reported that 52 million Americans have taken prescribed medicines. When the prescribed medicine is not taken as prescribed, it is considered as abuse. Abusing prescriptions can become addictive. You can look around and see all of those you know who are actively using. It might even look like everyone you know uses.

Addictions are a serious problem and growing at an alarming rate

The number of overdoses continues to increase at an alarming rate.

Emergency room visits for alcohol abuse continues to rise. While alcoholism is the most common addiction, it is also estimated that 95% of those who are dependent, do not feel they have a problem.

Other concerns that concur with alcoholism is a mental illness. Sometimes the alcohol and drug use began as a way to relieve some of the symptoms of mental illness. When treating the condition, it is far more helpful to treat the dependency first in order to effectively treat the mental illness.

Tens of millions of Americans use prescription medication non-medically. Painkillers have the highest potential for use and misuse.

Other drugs that have increased in use and become more alarming are the opioids, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, methamphetamines, hallucinogens and inhalants. Tobacco dependency is known to cause one in five deaths.

Gambling and overeating are other addictions know for their destruction. Gambling causes personal and financial distress and causes a heavy burden upon the family. Overeating wrecks self esteem and places a severe burden on health and social issues.

It is all around us…

Why is this happening?

Sometimes the substance begins as a way to cover other issues. It can start with covering distressing symptoms of a mental illness. Or, it could begin as a result of a traumatic incident, a crisis, a loss, or depression. Or, maybe it began as youth, being curious and joining in with the crowd. Or, maybe it was medically prescribed as a way to treat an acute or chronic health-related condition. After a while, it becomes a way of life.

Why some can stop and others cannot? 

Understanding addictions is complex. Scientists have found the roots of some addictions in genes, yet environmental factors can also play a part. What is known is that everyone who uses does not become addicted and incur the consequences of maladaptive use. DUIs, health problems, financial problems, relationship issues, and the inability to pursue your dreams in a way to bring personal satisfaction become the prison for addictions.

Is addiction a crime or an illness? 

The beginning of all addictions is the innocence in wanting to feel good. Would you call this a crime? Just the essence of needing to feel good may question what was going on to want a mind-altering experience. The crime may be continuing the pattern of a relentless addiction that harms the person and those who are around.

Addiction is like a green light to go, even when you want to stop.

What you may be wondering

There’s not always a problem with my use

Addictions are insidious. You never know what it will bring. There are times that bring the feeling you wish and other times grief and agony highlight the devastating consequences. This kind of swing in outcomes indicates concern. It’s risky not to know what kind of outcome you’ll have as a result of your use. You never know when the big one is coming.

I have too much stress to make a lifestyle change now

Lifestyle changes are probably one of the more difficult things to do. Not only are there the demands of your time, but even doing something different can be challenging. One of the hardest things to do is to change the brain to even do something differently. A simple technique, such as deep breathing could be beneficial during a moment of stress.

I don’t like to be in groups with other people

Self-sabotage or those who sabotage our efforts is common. Change is difficult. For others close to you may find your efforts to change as a threat, particularly if they desire the change you seek and not ready to make it. If you are ready, we can explore ways to minimize that threat for yourself and others.

I don’t use that much

Problem use is not about how much you use, but the consequences of the use. You may only use once a year, but if there’s a problem resulting from your use, there’s a problem. Actually, I knew someone who would drink and use only on New Year’s Eve. Every time he would either encounter a DUI, fights, lost relationships and other negative encounters. It’s about the consequences.

Break the cycle

While smoking, alcohol, food binging may offer some quick relief they are short-term fixes. Be sure to seek long-term solutions.

Not everything works for everyone. It’s important to find those activities with staying power to make the change a part of life.

Here is a checklist of things you can do. You may have others to add to the list.

  • Read what others have done to make effective changes.
  • 12 step programs have been effective in maintaining long-term recovery.
  • Treatment programs have a range from individual counseling, outpatient programs, inpatient programs, detox and counseling for families.
  • Stay true to the mantra, “One day at a time.” It really does work. Sometimes you have to break it down to five minutes at a time. Allow it to work for you.
  • Remember that it is a strength to reach out. While it may be difficult, taking that first step might be the very exhilarating experience to assist you toward reaching your potential. 

What you can do…

Ask yourself how much longer do you want to be in the cycle. Believe that you can accomplish what is a monumental task. Many have been right where you are and have found success in their lives and in giving back to others. Maybe you can change for you. Look at the calendar and pick a date of when you’ll begin the change. If you are doing this on your own, you will have to make an honest commitment to reach out if it doesn’t work for you. For example, are you able to stop your use for 30 days? Then make a commitment that if you’re not able to do this, you will reach out to someone for guidance. This could be counseling, a 12-step program, support group or someone you know who is recovering from their addiction. You can always call me for recommendations for resources and help at 513-244-6990.

Affect Change In Your Life.

If you’re in Cincinnati, Ohio and want to make or break a habit, create motivation and direction in your life or work through a life transition, I can help. I invite you to call 513-244-6990 for a free 15-minute call. I’m happy to discuss your needs and goals and answer questions you have about personal development counseling and my practice.