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Substance Abuse, Addiction or Habit?

Substance Abuse by Tricia Woolfrey

Have you ever wondered whether you, or someone close to you is addicted to a substance, or if it’s just a bad habit?  Or perhaps that they abuse substances?  There is a lot of confusion between these terms which I would like to clarify in this article.

A habit is simply an automatic action, without any dependency.  It is something you do without thinking.  Like always having a biscuit with your tea, or brushing your teeth as soon as you get out of bed in the morning.  You do them automatically.

Addiction refers to being unable to stop a particular behaviour, despite repeated attempts to do so.  It is more a psychological dependency which can build a tolerance requiring more and more to get the same effect.  It is no longer about pleasure, it is about need as though the person can’t function without it.  The tolerance build up can fool the person into thinking they don’t have a problem, such as the heavy drinker who doesn’t get drunk.  This actually means that he has built up a tolerance which can hide the dangerous consequences for his health.  An addict will experience withdrawal symptoms – both psychological and physical which can be extremely unpleasant.

An addict will also be unable to stop, will exceed self-imposed limits (I’ll only have one), the behaviour will cut into the time they would usually spend doing other things and they will use despite the negative effect it has on their health.

An addiction can involve substances such as drugs (prescription or recreational), stimulants, cigarettes and alcohol. It can also include compulsive behaviours such as internet use, sex, gambling, shopping, or work.

Substance abuse, by contrast, involves getting into recurrent trouble as a consequence of the behaviour.  It is defined as one or more of the following over a 12 month period: reckless behaviour such as driving under the influence; the behaviour affecting work or school; continued use despite the impact on personal relationships; legal and/or financial problems as a result of the behaviour such as being charged with disorderly conduct, or going into debt to fund the behaviour.

A habit can easily lead to an addiction and addicts can kid themselves that it’s only a habit.  So, good questions to ask yourself are “is this habit positive and balanced?  Or is it negative and out of balance?”  “Can I stop now?” If it has become out of balance and you are unable to stop – it has become an addiction.  Addictions can also build up as a means of distracting from what else is happening in your life.  Distracting yourself is not a healthy way of coping so it’s important to build up your internal resources so that you are able to deal with life’s stressors without the need to resort to distractions.

It’s also important to beware that, in stopping one addiction, you don’t start a dependency on another addiction, for example moving from a dependency on alcohol to over-spending.  This becomes the doorway to start drinking again.  It’s always helpful to see a professional to deal with these complex issues.

If you would like to find out more about any of this, contact Tricia Woolfrey www.pw-hypnotherapy.co.uk.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

Tricia Woolfrey is an integrative therapist, an advanced clinical hypnotherapist, master practitioner in NLP, nutritionist, and author and utilises bioenergetics to help you be the best you can be.  She has practices in Surrey and Harley Street, London.  She can be reached on 0845 130 0854 www.pw-hypnotherapy.co.uk.

Stress and the Five Pillars

Stress Management by Tricia Woolfrey

Stress seems to be an ever-present force in many people’s lives.  If you are lucky, you will have long periods of positive stress interspersed with periods of enjoyable calm, punctuated by the odd bout of negative stress (nobody can avoid it altogether).  If you aren’t that lucky, you may be encouraged to learn that it is possible to manage your stress but first of all it is useful to understand more about it.

There are basically three levels of stress.  The first level is calm.  You’ve heard the expression “he is so laid back he’s horizontal”?  Well, you need a little stress to have sufficient adrenaline to function at your best.  You also need a little calm so that you recharge your batteries and create balance in your life.

The second level is eustress.  This is any stress which has a beneficial effect.  It provides feelings of fulfilment and achievement.  It is where you feel energised and focused and in your flow.  It gives you confidence and makes you feel empowered.  However, too much excitement can also be bad for you as it raises your adrenaline and heart rate too high.  So relaxation is important for balance.

The third level is negative stress and this is what can be harmful to your mood, your relationships, your productivity and your health.

The five pillars, below, are the ways you respond to or contribute to stress:  psychologically, emotionally, physically, spiritually and life-load.  They each interact with the other to influence your stress in one way or another:

THE FIVE PILLARS
PSYCHOLOGICAL   EMOTIONAL PHYSICAL  LIFESTYLE   SPIRITUAL
Your thoughts Your feelings Nutrition & biochemistry Life load Purpose & meaning
Your behavioural response to stress Your emotional response to stress Your physical response to stress How your lifestyle contributes to stress Your ability to transcend negative stress

Your thoughts create feelings – if you think a negative thought you feel bad, and if you think a positive thought you feel good.  Your feelings, in turn create a physical response.  How you treat your body can also create an emotional response (have you had the feeling when you are over-tired and become tearful or irritable?  Or too much coffee makes you anxious?).  Your life-load – how much you have to do – can leave you feeling exhausted.  And finally, if you lack purpose and meaning in life, your ability to deal with stress can be compromised.

When your thinking is positive, you feel emotionally strong; when you take care of your health you contribute to your emotional resilience; when you manage your life so there is a balance of doing and being, you feel a sense of equilibrium to rise above challenges; and when your life has purpose and meaning then you are more able to deal with life’s trials and tribulations.  This then gives you the five foundations:

THE FIVE FOUNDATIONS
Clarity ▪ Skills ▪ Confidence ▪ Health ▪ Energy

As an integrative therapist, I work on all these levels to help people develop their stress resilience, become healthier, happier and more confident. To find out more call me on 0345 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey

Tricia Woolfrey is a hypnotherapist, coach and wellness practitioner with practices in Byfleet Village, Surrey and Harley Street London.  She is a trainer and author.

Contact:
tricia@yourempoweredself.co.uk
www.yourempoweredself.co.uk
0345 130 0854