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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.

Listening to Your Feelings

Understanding Feelings and Emotions by Tricia WoolfreyIf your feelings could talk, what would they say?  Feelings are the physical representation of emotion.  They communicate your wants and needs.  They tell you when you are happy and when something isn’t right. Yet, all too often, we ignore them.  Sometimes this is because of the way we were brought up (it isn’t nice to be angry, big boys don’t cry, etc) and sometimes it’s because we have no idea how to deal with them, or because the feelings are too painful.

Negative feelings can be a combination of events from the past, stresses in the present and worries about the future, even though the only reality is now.  If you find yourself over-reacting to situations, it is unlikely to be simply about what is happening in the moment but instead is likely to be an emotional resonance with what has happened in the past- a reminder which supports a limiting belief. For example, someone being late to meet you for lunch may remind you of all the times that people have let you down, whether intentionally or otherwise, and may perpetuate a limiting belief of “I am not important”.

So what happens?  We learn to suppress and repress our feelings and this can lead to problems in relationships and even our health.  It also leads to distracting behaviours.  When we feel bad, we often distract with food, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, shopping, gambling etc.  But this does not deal with the underlying problem, it simply disguises it for a moment or two.  When we suppress in this way, the underlying problem grows in intensity – like it is shouting to be recognised. It doesn’t matter how much food, alcohol, tobacco or clothes you have – it will not help you feel less bored, anxious, frustrated, depressed or lonely.  Those feelings come right back and you need more of your distractor to help you feel “normal”.  It is a vicious circle and it’s important to deal with the core issue when you can. Ask yourself:  “How much do I have to eat (buy/drink/smoke/work/etc) to resolve this issue?”  Distractors are ultimately unsatisfying because you do not truly meet your emotional need.

FEELINGS AND ASSOCIATED NEEDS

There are eight main negative emotions.  Here is what they mean:

Primary Feelings

Feeling What it's telling you What it wants
Boredom Lack of Challenge Fulfilment and growth
Anger A sense of unfairness or of a boundary being broken To make things fair and create clear boundaries
Guilt Feeling that you have been unfair or unkind to someone To make amends
Sadness Loss (real or imagined, person, status or item) To feel whole
Lonliness A lack of connection to yourself, to others or the world Meaningful relationships
Inadequacy Feeling unworthy To feel good enough
Stress A feeling that you have more to handle than your perceived ability to cope A feeling of control
Fear Feeling insecure or in danger To feel safe and secure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When these primary feelings are ignored, they can lead to frustration (that what you are doing is not working) and, ultimately to depression.  The only way to avoid this trap is to learn how to deal with your feelings constructively.  There are four ways of doing this:

1.     SELF-COACHING

a) Name the feeling
b) Identify the cause of the feeling (unfulfilled need, want or desire)
c) Identify a satisfying response (an action that fulfils the need, want or desire)

2.     COACHING OR THERAPY

Often it is helpful to work with someone who is skilled at helping others.  They can steer you through the complexity of your past.  For more information see www.pw-hypnotherapy.co.uk.

3.     PRACTICE EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE

This is a wonderful technique that helps you to manage your emotions constructively.  For a demonstration on how to do this, see www.self-help-resources.co.uk or contact Tricia Woolfrey on 0345 130 0854 for 1:1 coaching on how to do it.

4.    HAVE HEATLHY DISTRACTORS

Doing something positive can help you change state naturally.  Try the following ideas:

  • Do some exercise – a great way to relieve stress and help you feel in control
  • Keep a journal – writing down your feelings can be very cathartic
  • Declutter your home/desk – clutter is a way of hanging onto negative emotion so decluttering can be very therapeutic
  • Start doing self-hypnosis – an excellent way of maintaining a positive outlook and feeling relaxed (see the book An Inside Job ™ – coming soon at www.pw-hypnotherapy.co.uk)
  • Call or see a friend – maybe someone you haven’t talked to in a while
  • Do something kind for someone – there is no better way of instantly feeling good

When you listen to what your feelings are telling you and respond appropriately, you are on your way to feeling a lot better about yourself, gaining perspective on a situation and having a healthier relationship with yourself and others.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

Tricia Woolfrey
tricia@yourempoweredself.co.uk
www.yourempoweredself.co.uk
0345 130 0854

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