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 It is possible for people to become addicted to anything, but common addictions include: 

Alcohol, drugs (prescribed/non-prescribed or recreational), gambling, food, work, sex/love/pornography, shopping/spending, internet/social media, gaming etc. 

Sometimes, an individual can be addicted to more than one thing.  For example someone with a gambling addiction could also use to cocaine, and the two would become fused or crossed together, with the gambler using cocaine to get a bigger high and take larger risks.    Conversely a food addict might also become addicted to going to the gym, with the two behaviors fueling each other.

If you’re concerned about your relationship with a drug or behaviour, then you might be further along the path of recovery than you think.  Even beginning to acknowledge that you may have a problem is a massive step, because many people stay in denial.  Sometimes it’s a crisis like the loss of a job or relationship that brings people to seek help.

I work with most addictions, and an one of a few counsellors who have specialist training and experience in working with sex and pornography addiction. 

Sex and Pornography Addiction

Sex addiction isn't about liking a particular sexual activity.  However, if you might spend a lot of time thinking about it and repetitively engaging with it, despite it having harmful consequences to your life then this may indicate a problem.  You may have tried to stop before, but not been able to stay reliably stopped.  If you’re usage has escalated, you’ll have been left needing more to have the desired ‘high’ effect.  Oftentimes, after using, there are strong feelings of guilt, shame and regret.

Because sex and pornography addiction are particularly shame bound, it makes it hard for people to seek help and support from friends or professionals.

Alcohol, Drugs, Gambling 

The use of alcohol, recreational drugs and gambling is common place in society.  However, due to the nature of the powerful effects it has, it can often motivate people to use again and again, despite negative consequences to their life.  It can affect other areas of life like work, relationships, finances, physical and emotional health.   Sometimes, someone may need the support of a Medical Professional to advise on a managed withdrawal before attending counselling.  If this is the case, a GP can make a referral to the Community Addictions Team. 

The Role of Shame

In my experience, regardless of approach, one very important factor is the quality of the therapeutic relationship.  This means that the relationship feels safe for you to express how you feel, be understood and feel valued without judgement.  Addictions are often entrenched in shame, an incredibly painful and destructive feeling that thrives in secrecy and fear of judgement.  However, in the presence of empathy and understanding it looses its power.  Shame is thought to be a powerful ingredient in sustaining addiction, so it is important that we create the right environment to work with it.

How can counselling help?

Increased tolerance often results in users going deeper into their drug or behaviour of choice maintain the high, and this can result in high levels of shame and self-loathing.  Often, being able to speak with someone without fear of judgement can offer some Immediate relief.

Surprisingly, addiction can often be a way of coping with underlying issues which have been painful or difficult to bare.  Firstly we can look at the impact on your relationships and other areas of life, helping you can decide what to do.  Counselling can help you understand how addiction is sustained and offer some tools to strengthen recovery.   We can also look at the issues which lay underneath the behaviors to help facilitate deeper healing and change. 

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