What is Addiction?
Dependence is dependence. If being without whatever the substance is causes withdrawal symptoms, you are looking at dependence – addiction in other words. Sometimes it is acceptable. A lot of people are dependent on coffee. They are cranky and hard to talk to before the first cup or two. Or some people are just plain miserable if they miss out on their visit to the gym, or even the daily walk. If it doesn’t bother the person, why change?
When should I get help?
Usually, if the dependence gets in the way of your life. People spending, for example, five or more hours a day playing games on their electronic device might find that they are too tired to do much at work. Or, their relationships might suffer – break down even. Gambling might become unmanageably expensive and threaten financial security.
Substance abuse is very similar. If the substance takes over your life, threatens your health or relationships, or you start taking time off work to feed your habit, it’s time to seek professional help.
What can I expect?
Addictions can be overcome. It happens all the time. People stop smoking, cut way back on alcohol, or give up other substances and habits. It can be challenging, but it can certainly be done.
The really hard task is to stay in the new place, where substances are not one of the most important things in your life. It often takes a whole new set of skills to learn to enjoy life without going back to whatever substance or habit you depended on. Still, if the person is willing to put in the hard yards, and, importantly, to accept assistance and support for however long it takes, outcomes for all concerned can be very good indeed.