We are all prone to habits - it is a perfectly normal part of life. A problem arises when these habits start to affect your daily life, emotions and relationships or tip into addictive behaviours.

Sometimes addictions can be used as a way to mask other mental or emotional problems. Ultimately, having difficulty controlling or becoming dependent on behaviours or substances that have harmful effects on us. This can have detrimental consequences on our everyday life. Our addictive behaviours can cause feelings of inadequacy and/or low self-esteem which might cause us to rely more on our addiction. We may find ourselves caught in a pattern of repetition, much like a revolving door. In these cases it becomes vital to address all the issues involved.

The term “self-medicating” is being used more and more to describe the way in which people are dealing with a problem in their lives. When we feel under pressure, overwhelmed or just that something is not right in our lives and that causes pain and distress it is only human to gravitate towards something available to us to ease our discomfort. You feel bad but don’t know why, so you find something that makes you feel better. It is very unhelpful to label people with addictions as those who can’t help themselves, when in reality they have tried to find a way to support themselves but have, sadly, chosen and unhealthy way to do it.

Common Symptoms of Addiction can include:

  • Inability to limit use of a substance or activity to the extent that they show signs of physical impairment.
  • Intense cravings and compulsions to use the substance or activity
  • Escalating use of the substance or activity – indicting tolerance.
  • Continued use of the substance or activity despite increasingly negative consequences.
  • Irritability, anxiety, poor focus, the shakes and nausea if they attempt to withdraw from the drug or activity.
  • Repetitive relapsing
  • Personality and behavioural changes, such as taking risks (either to make sure they can obtain a substance/activity, or doing so while under the influence.)
  • Neglecting responsibility and important activities in everyday life, including school/work.
  • Becoming increasingly obsessed with focussing all their time and energy on ways of getting their substance/activity.

Addiction can take many different forms and affect people in many different ways. Exploration and discussion may help you to understand why you are behaving in this manner. Please consider contacting you GP or a trained counsellor if you feel you are struggling with an addiction or addictive behaviour.

The Practice offers a number of bespoke Addiction Recovery Packages and forms of addiction help that may assist you if you are having difficulties with addiction. Counselling can help address issues such as addiction or addictions, alcoholism, sex addiction, gambling, drug addiction and internet addiction. You can contact any of our Counsellors, Therapists, Psychotherapists and Psychologists directly, via The Practice phone number or online. Servicing Surrey from our sites in Weybridge and East Molesey and online.

More Information

Useful Articles

Here's a list of articles about addiction you might find helpful.

Addiction: A whole new view
Our addiction theories and policies are woefully outdated. Research shows that there are no demon drugs. Nor are addicts innately defective. Nature has supplied us all with the ability to become hooked—and we all engage in addictive behaviours to some degree.

Addiction: Cause, Symptoms and Treatments
In the past, addiction used to refer just to psychoactive substances that cross the blood-brain barrier, temporarily altering the chemical balance of the brain; this would include alcohol, tobacco and some drugs. A considerable number of psychologists, other health care professionals and lay people now insist that psychological dependency, as may be the case with gambling, sex, internet, work, exercise, etc. should also be counted as addictions, because they can also lead to feelings of guilt, shame, hopelessness, despair, failure, rejection, anxiety and/or humiliation.

The likely cause of addiction has been discovered...
The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think

The Addiction Journal
Addiction publishes peer-reviewed research reports on pharmacological and behavioural addictions, bringing together research conducted within many different disciplines.

Is drug addiction a mental illness?
Yes, because addiction changes the brain in fundamental ways, disturbing a person's normal hierarchy of needs and desires and substituting new priorities connected with procuring and using the drug. The resulting compulsive behaviors that override the ability to control impulses despite the consequences are similar to hallmarks of other mental illnesses.

Recommended Reading

If you are struggling with addiction we strongly recommend you purchase and read the following book:

Dying for a Drink by Tim Cantopher
This helpful "book explores how to beat problem drinking in a no-nonsense, lively and accessible manner."

Also try 

The Mindful Path to Addiction Recovery: A Practical Guide to Regaining Control over Life - Lawrence S. Peltz
Here, Dr. Lawrence Peltz, who has worked as an addiction psychiatrist for nearly three decades, draws from his clinical experience and on the techniques of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) to explain the fundamental dynamics of addiction and the stages of the recovery process, and also gives us specific mindfulness exercises to support recovery.

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts - Gabor Mate
A timely and original book that explores the fundamental nature of human addiction and the current epidemic of different types of addictions with society.

Philosophy for Life: And other dangerous situations - Jules Evans
In his engaging book, Jules Evans explains how ancient philosophy saved his life, and how we can all use it to become happier, wiser and more resilient.

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment - Eckhart Tolle
To make the journey into The Power of Now we will need to leave our analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind. Although the journey is challenging, Eckhart Tolle offers simple language and a question and answer format to guide us.

A New Earth: Create a Better Life - Eckhart Tolle
Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth will be a cornerstone for personal spirituality and self-improvement for years to come, leading readers to a new levels of consciousness and inner peace.

Love Is Letting Go of Fear - Gerard J.Jampolsky
After more than thirty years, Love Is Letting of Fear continues to be among the most widely read and best-loved classics on personal transformation. Both helpful and hopeful, this little gem of a guide offers twelve lessons to help us let go of the past and stay focused on the present as we step confidently toward the future. 

This poem has often been described as the "North Star" by which you should lead your life.


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what pace there may be
in silence.  As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull
and the ignorant, they too have their story.  Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself to others, you many become vain and bitter; for always
There will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.  Keep interested in your own
career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.  But
let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.  Especially do not feign affection.  Neither be cynical about love; for
in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take 
kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.  But do not distress
yourself with dark imaginings.  Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.  You are a child of the
universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.  And
whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be, and whatever
your labours and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all it’s sham drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Powerful Quotes and Poems to inspire you

Dare we hope? We dare.
Can we hope? We can.
Should we hope? We must, because to do otherwise is to waste the most precious of gifts given so freely by God to all of us. So when we do die, it will be with hope and it will be easy and our hearts will not be broken.

Andy Ripley – England and Lions rugby legend, often described as one of the most colourful personalities in the history of English rugby

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