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Alcohol can seem like a best friend, making the drinker feel confident, relaxed and happy. But when simply enjoying a drink starts to become a way of getting through the day or of coping with stress, it can be the start of a slow and painful descent into abuse that has devastating effects on family, relationships and finances. The alcoholic can find it almost impossible to stop drinking - that 'best friend' has taken over their life, becoming a necessity in order to survive.
Have you noticed any of the following around your alcohol use?
To anyone without experience of drug addiction it seems strange that our lives could be ruled so totally by damaging behaviour which we just cannot control. But the central feature of any addiction is exactly that - a progressive loss of control. And once someone has become dependent they can continue and increase their destructive behaviour, with devastating consequences for user and loved one alike.
Have you experienced any of the following in relation to drug use?
Learning to cope with feelings on a daily basis is the first step towards freedom from substance abuse. With encouragement and understanding healthy relationships can be restored, and those affected can start to live a better life. If you would like help with an addiction to alcohol or other drugs, to contact one of our specialists.
For the anorexia sufferer feelings of hunger and deprivation help to fill an emotional void. Different foods become “feared” or “trusted” to different degrees, and a fixation with nutrition and calorie values rules what to eat and what to avoid. Controlling the intake of food becomes paramount, and this impulse to control reflects a deep emotional need on the part of the sufferer to control all feelings.
Have you experienced any of the following in relation to your food?
Those who suffer from bulimia often eat large quantities of food in a relatively short period of time, then will take laxatives or make themselves throw up to prevent gaining weight. Excessive eating triggers feelings that are powerful, overwhelming and shameful. The cycle of bingeing and purging helps to control these feelings, and also avoids the anger and guilt that are buried at the heart of the eating disorder.
Have you noticed any of the following?
Compulsive over-eaters find tremendous comfort in food. It enables them to feel soothed and safe in a way they may never have truly experienced in their relationships with family or friends. Becoming overweight from eating large quantities of food can also be a way of coping with feelings of not being “good enough”, or of not feeling wanted by another, and helps to avoid the risk of rejection.
Have you experienced any of the following in your relationship with food?
Eating disorders can have painful and disruptive consequences on both the suffer and the lives of thier loved ones. For discreet, non-judgemental help from counsellors and psychotherapists experienced in working with issues ranging from restricting food to purging and over-eating.
Sexual addiction is often an attempt to act out deep-seated anger and pain through the realm of the sexual or the erotic. “Acting out” keeps the sufferer safe from the fear of a partner rejecting or being angry towards them if their hidden feelings of shame, guilt and rage were to be expressed. Addiction to sex is safety from true intimacy, and from sharing feelings of loneliness and vulnerability that feel crushing and overwhelming.
Are you experiencing any of the following?
Addiction to gambling begins with the thrill of risk-taking and the adrenaline rush that comes with each “win”. That rush pushes aside buried feelings of guilt and low self-worth and replaces them with money or products, in an attempt to fill the real emptiness inside. But the pain remains: no matter how much is won the void is never filled, and the gambler’s sense of self-worth and identity become increasingly wrapped up in “winning”.
Have you experienced any of the following in relation to gambling?
Has your gambling habit grown out of control?
If you are experiencing some of the above you may want to contact one of our addiction specialists. Our expertise and professional skills encompass all aspects of addiction, and we are committed to matching the sensitive and confidential needs of the individual to the most appropriate treatment regime.
Living or being in close contact with addicts or sufferers of eating disorders presents a number of considerable challenges, and in many cases this can lead to what is known as co-dependent behaviour. Although co-dependency is something which commonly affects spouses, partners and children, it can also extend to parents, siblings or other family members, friends and even work colleagues.
The Signs of Co-dependency
Particularly apparent in those who grew up in environments where they were required to care for other, often addicted, people, co-dependency generally manifests itself in the form of ‘fixing’ behaviour. Co-dependent individuals tend to take great pains to do what they see as helping their addicted loved ones, but to the extent that their actions actually enable the addict to continue with their self-destructive habits. Rather than leaving the addict to face up to their own responsibilities and deal with the consequences of their own actions - something which could encourage them to seek help for their condition at an earlier stage - the co-dependent will frequently lie on their behalf or cover up for them. In so doing, they can not only prolong the sufferer’s condition, but are also inclined to pick up some of the behaviours which are characteristic of the addict him or herself.
Despite often appearing to be strong and capable, co-dependents frequently suffer from very low self-esteem, as well as having issues with trust, intimacy and control. Without support they run the risk of falling prey to depression and anxiety, or can find themselves feeling lonely and isolated.
Support and Recovery
However, as the behaviours that they demonstrate are learned ones, they can also be ‘unlearned’, through both individual and group psychotherapy sessions. Group therapy is particularly effective, because the patient almost invariably interacts in a similar way with the other members of the group, and even the therapist, as they would with the addict. In the safe and non-judgemental environment that therapy offers, this allows the patient to better understand their own behaviour and to learn to replace unhealthy conduct with a healthier alternative.
Our highly skilled professionals have had extensive experience of dealing with cases of co-dependency and have helped many clients to lead happier and physically and psychologically healthier lives.
The nature of self-destructive behaviours such as addictions and eating disorders is such that their effects are not limited solely to the sufferer themselves. Friends, work colleagues and most importantly families are also often touched to a significant degree by such illnesses. This leads to severe emotional distress for these family members, and can sometimes lead to them developing psychological problems of their own.
Without appropriate support the family unit and the individuals within it can run the risk of sinking into an ever-worsening situation, where communication becomes highly strained and mutual support impossible.
The value of Family Support
Family support benefits those concerned in a number of different ways. The very nature of addictions and eating disorders is complex and often stems from deep-rooted or long-standing issues which cause the sufferer immense pain and distress. This can manifest itself in bitter recrimination in the sufferer and the assignment of blame onto family members. By increasing understanding among the family as to the nature of the patient’s condition a greater willingness and ability to support them can be found. This can also directly contribute to the patient’s recovery and the timescale in which it can be achieved.
Family support is not just designed for the direct benefit of the addict or eating disorder sufferer however. Its aim is to address the problems that all affected family members are suffering, by drawing on the commitment of those concerned to improve their mutual situation. By applying the strengths of each individual, improved communication strategies can be developed in all directions, and the group can begin to work together to overcome the difficulties that they are facing.