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LifeWorks Holistic Counselling Centre

This leaflet is for anyone who thinks she/he has an addiction problem.

Addiction is habitual psychological and/or physiological on a substance or practice that is beyond voluntary control. It is a complex disease, and it is not a derivative of lack of willpower or morals. Here is a briefing on how addiction develops.

The pleasure most people sense through eating and spending time with a loved one is a result of the release of a neurotransmitter called Dopamine. When an individual consumes any habit-forming substance for the first time, excessive amounts of Dopamine are released inducing feelings of rush and pleasure, reinforcing repetitive use of the substance. This physiological dependency leads to tolerance, where the previous dosage becomes insufficient to produce the same effect, so the individual feels the urge to increase the dose of the substance to sense the same pleasure. Over time, the continuous use of this substance changes the shape and functions of certain brain areas, and impacts different domains in life, including work, relational, financial, and social domain.

There are different types of addiction. The two main types are:

  • Physical addiction: tobacco, alcohol, prescription drugs, illicit drugs
  • Psychological addiction: gambling, sex, internet, video games, work

I. What does addiction feel like?

  • Urge to use the substance, or carry on a certain activity (ex. Gambling)
  • Spending too much money on the addictive substance/activity, even if it is beyond the individual’s financial capacity
  • Social withdrawal
  • Decreased productivity level at work or school
  • The individual’s focus and energy are directed towards getting the substance or enrolling in the addictive activity
  • Failing attempts to stop the addictive behaviors
  • Withdrawal symptoms in case of stopping the addictive substance/behavior
  • Guilt feelings
  • Loss of control
  • Secrecy
  • Risk taking

II. Why do some people get addicted on these substances or behaviors?

Research on addiction has shown that the major causes and risk factors include

  • Genetic traits which may speed up the development of the disease
  • Co-existing mental health disorder, such as ADHD, depression, and anxiety disorders
  • Peer pressure, especially in young people
  • Lack of family involvement

III. What are the treatment modalities at LWHCC for addiction?

  • The patient who suffers addiction disorder should follow several treatment modalities to achieve the best outcomes. These treatment modalities include detoxification, psychiatric management (if mental health disorders co-exist), and psychotherapy.
  • At LWHCC, we provide excellent psychotherapy and counselling services for patients and their families to help them overcome addiction, improve functionality, and prevent relapse.
  • We suggest clients to approach specialist centers for rehabilitation and other treatment options like detoxification, psychiatric management (if mental health disorders co-exist).

Please discuss with your counsellor at LWHCC for more details.

Which treatment modality is better for me?

At LWHCC, we will provide you with free triage service with a professional mental health nurse who will carry on a brief mental health assessment, either over the phone or during a face-to-face interview, and guide you to the appropriate service based on your mental health status and individual needs.

We will be delighted to assist you seek professional psychiatric and detoxification services in dedicated institutions.

IV. What can you do to help yourself?

  • Learn about addiction and the symptoms. If you think that you might be addicted to a substance or behavior, consult with a professional.
  • Remember that admitting the existence of a problem is the first milestone in recovery.
  • Do not keep it to yourself. Talk about addiction to your close, trusted person, either a family member, friend, or your spouse.
  • Seek treatment for other co-existing mental health disorders (if present)
  • Seek a support group. Contact your mental health professionals to refer you to an appropriate support group.
  • Avoid high-risk situations, for example bars, casinos, and/or places where you practiced your addictive behavior.

V. What can you do to help a close one who has an addiction problem?

  • Learn about addiction as much as possible
  • Listen; even if you have to listen to the same thing over and over, and try not to give advice unless asked for
  • It is helpful to spend time with this person and encourage him/her to talk; you may reassure him/her that they will get better
  • Make sure that this person is eating and sleeping well as much as possible
  • Help him/her stay away from the addictive substance/behavior
  • Encourage your close one to get help. Do not discourage psychotherapy or taking medication if it is prescribed. If you have worries or concerns about your close one’s treatment, do not hesitate to discuss them with their medical team.
  • Attend family/ couple therapy sessions
  • Set realistic expectations. Recovery is a long process, and it comes with many pitfalls. Try to enjoy your gatherings.
  • Prepare meals and eat as a family

VI. How can we prevent addiction problems in children and teenagers?

  • Communicate. Do not fear discussing addiction with your children. Education and trusting relationships are the primary defense shields against addiction.
  • Listen to your children talking about peer pressure to try substances. Encourage their efforts to resist it.
  • Set a good example by avoiding these substances and/or addictive behaviors.
  • Strengthen your bond with your children. Strong and trusting relationships between parents and children is a major protective factor against addiction.