There once were many myths and misconceptions surrounding the reasons why addictions occur. Some believed that substances in themselves were not addictive, that it was the body’s chemical reaction to the substance to which the individual is addicted. This claim could certainly seem plausible when considering gambling or shopping addictions. There are no foreign chemicals entering the body, rather than the body is creating its own chemical reaction (dopamine/adrenalin) in response to the external stimulus of gambling or shopping, and it is the feeling that the individual is addicted to, not the actual act itself.
It is also understandable that when one introduces chemicals to the body, chemical reactions occur. Some of these reactions stimulate reward centres within the brain which are triggered when a person exercises, falls in love or is praised or acknowledged.
Sometimes an addiction occurs when a person uses drugs, cigarettes, alcohol or even food, to alleviate stress and worry. In order to successfully treat these types of addictions, the person must focus on increasing their levels of self-esteem so that they are able to create good feelings about themselves without any need to have the feelings triggered by an external stimulus.
It is difficult to predict if one person is more likely to suffer from addiction than the next. Again, claims have been made that some suffer from an addictive personality. It is also wise to consider the social circumstances of addicts. For example, if your parents smoked, you are more likely to be a smoker – this may be because you see the behaviour as socially acceptable or because you have a genetic predisposition or both. If your friend takes drugs, you are likely to be influenced by them. There are of course other factors. If a person is lacking in a structured life or has experienced an over-structured life, drugs can be a form of escape and detachment from a life which is perhaps, not entirely fulfilling.
Often, an addiction will increase in severity over time. This is because the body becomes regulated and used to the addictive chemical being in the body. To achieve the same level of stimulation, more of the addictive chemical is needed in the body. Many addictions can cause serious health, social, physical and mental problems and when addictive substances are increased in a non-regulated environment, the consequences can be devastating.
Fortunately, changes can be made. Addicts do not necessarily need to be addicts for the rest of their lives. If the addict is willing and motivated to change, there are ways of easing and in some cases removing completely, the side effects when withdrawing from an addictive substance.
NLP can be used to help the client understand new perspectives about how the addiction has impacted on their lives. Techniques can be used to desensitise any negative associations from the past, and positive triggers can be installed for use when the cravings would normally occur.
Hypnosis can be used to remove habits and create changes in the subconscious, the part of the mind responsible for creating and maintaining habits. Post hypnotic suggestions can be used to associate powerful negative feelings to the addictive act or substance so that these powerful negative feelings are experienced in the future if ever the patient considers interacting with the addictive substance or acting again.
By Gemma Bailey