Within the Showmen’s Mental Health Charity, we really try to focus on various topics throughout the year, and one that tends to play a huge role in our work is the theme of Addiction.
We know that this subject is close to many people, and we seek to educate and engage with anyone who may be struggling, or have struggled in their lives previously.
If any of these posts are in familiarity with how you, or someone close to you may be feeling – please reach out to us and talk. We have trained counsellors on hand and advisors who can help. You are not alone.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you. It is most commonly associated with gambling, drugs, alcohol and smoking, but it’s possible to be addicted to just about anything, including:

Some people are obsessed with their work to the extent that they become physically exhausted; if your relationship, family and social life are affected and you never take holidays, you may be addicted to your work.

As computer and mobile phone use has increased, so too have computer and internet addictions; people may spend hours each day and night surfing the internet or gaming, whilst neglecting other aspects of their lives.

Shopping becomes an addiction when you buy things you don’t need or want to achieve a buzz; this is quickly followed by feelings of guilt, shame or despair.

What causes addictions?
There are lots of reasons why addictions begin. In the case of drugs, alcohol and nicotine, these substances affect the way you feel, both physically and mentally. These feelings can be enjoyable and create a powerful urge to use the substances again.

The addiction can result in a similar mental “high” after a win, followed by a strong urge to try again and recreate that feeling. This can develop into a habit that becomes very hard to stop. Being addicted to something means that not having it causes withdrawal symptoms, or a “come down”. Because this can be unpleasant, it’s easier to carry on having or doing what you crave, and so the cycle continues.

Often, an addiction gets out of control because you need more and more to satisfy a craving and achieve the “high”.


What is gambling addiction and problem gambling?

Gambling problems can happen to anyone from any walk of life. Your gambling goes from a fun, harmless diversion, to an unhealthy obsession with serious consequences.

Whether you bet on sports, scratch cards, roulette, poker, or slots, in a casino, at the track, or online – a gambling problem can put a strain your relationships, interfere with work, and lead to financial disaster. You may even do things you never thought you would, like running up huge debts or even stealing money to gamble.

Gambling addiction, also known as pathological gambling, compulsive gambling or gambling disorder, is an impulse-control disorder. If you’re a compulsive gambler, you can’t control the impulse to gamble, even when it has negative consequences for you or your loved ones. You’ll gamble whether you’re up or down, broke or flush, and you’ll keep gambling regardless of the consequences – even when you know that the odds are against you or you can’t afford to lose.

Of course, you can also have a gambling problem without being totally out of control. Problem gambling is any gambling behaviour that disrupts your life. If you’re preoccupied with gambling, spending more and more time and money on it, chasing losses, or gambling despite serious consequences in your life, you have a gambling problem.

A gambling addiction or problem is often associated with other behaviour or mood disorders. Many problem gamblers also suffer with substance abuse issues, unmanaged ADHD, stress, depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. To overcome your gambling problems, you’ll also need to address these and any other underlying causes as well.

Although it may feel like you’re powerless in trying to stop gambling, there are plenty of things you can do to overcome the problem, repair your relationships and finances, and finally regain control of your life.


Gambling Addiction and Problem Gambling


What is drug addiction?
Drug addiction involves the use of illegal drugs, or the use of prescription/over-the-counter drugs for purposes other than those for which they are meant to be used – or in excessive amounts. Drug abuse can lead to social, physical, emotional, relationships, and job-related problems.

All drugs – this includes nicotine, cocaine, and marijuana affect the brain’s “reward” circuit. This circuit is part of the limbic system – this is the specific area of our brain which affects our instinct and mood. Drugs target this system, and cause large amounts of dopamine, (a chemical that helps regulate emotions and feelings of pleasure) to flood the brain. This flood of dopamine is what causes a “high” – and it’s one of the main causes of drug addiction.

Although initial drug use may be voluntary, drugs can drastically alter our brains chemistry. This actually changes how the brain performs, and interferes massively with a person’s ability to make choices.

Overtime, this can lead to intense cravings and compulsive drug use. With consistent use and reliance on this “high”, giving into cravings can turn into a substance dependency – an addiction to drugs.
Effects of drug abuse have serious consequences, such as missed work, punishable offences, strained relationships, accidents, and injuries.

Substance use disorders can also lead to multiple behavioral problems, both in the short and long-term. These include:

Impaired judgement
Loss of self control

If you need treatment for drug addiction, you’re entitled to NHS care in the same way as anyone else who has a health problem.
With the right help and support, it’s possible for you to get drug free and stay that way. We have addiction therapists within our team, so if you would like to speak to someone, please do not hesitate to contact us


What is Alcoholism?
Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism, is a disease that affects people of all walks of life. It’s not only an addiction – alcoholism is a real disease. It can cause changes to the brain and neurochemistry, so a person with an alcohol addiction may not always be able to control their reactions.
However, alcohol addiction can be difficult to recognise. Unlike some other addictive substances, alcohol is widely available and often accepted in many cultures. It can be mainly at the centre of social situations and closely linked to celebrations and enjoyment.
As an addiction tends to get worse over time, it’s important to look for early warning signs, because when identified and treated early, someone with an alcohol addiction may be able to avoid major consequences of the disease.

Symptoms of alcohol addiction include:

Increased quantity or frequency of use
High tolerance for alcohol, or lack of “hangover” symptoms
Drinking at inappropriate times
Avoiding contact with loved ones
Hiding alcohol, or hiding while drinking
Dependence on alcohol to function in everyday life
Increased lethargy, depression, or other emotional issues

You may need help if:

You often feel the need to have a drink
You get into trouble because of your drinking
Other people warn you about how much you’re drinking
You think your drinking is causing you problems

If you’re worried that someone you know has, or may be slowly developing an alcohol addiction, it’s best to approach them in a supportive way. You may be hurt or worried, but try to avoid shaming or guilting them – as this could push them away and make them more resistant to your help.


What is a Shopping Addiction?

People can develop shopping addictions because they essentially get addicted to how their brain feels while shopping. As they shop, their brain releases endorphins and dopamine, and over time, these feelings become addictive.

The act of addiction in purchasing items at an alarmingly repetitive rate can be encouraged and intensified by the presence of various stressors in the addict’s life. These factors include job stresses, family strains, and poor physical health – these all play a role in setting the pace and tempo of this addiction.

People love shopping, and many spend too much money while engaging in this activity. It is important to note that going on a shopping spree once in a while does not mean you are a shopping addict – however, there are several signs and symptoms shopping addicts display that you may want to look for, as in most cases, it may be difficult to tell if yourself, or a loved one is developing this type of addiction.

Feelings of euphoria, or a “high” when preparing to shop or whilst shopping.
An overwhelming urge to buy, which must be gratified instantly.
Unnecessary items being bought at a fast rate.
Buying more than intended on a regular basis, not just once in a while.
Hiding purchases from loved ones.
Financial debt that is growing out of control.

Therapies for shopping addicts, also known as “shopaholics”, do exist! Unlike the situation with a chemical dependency, someone who is experiencing this addiction does not begin treatment with a medically supervised detoxification period (unless of course, other addictions are present). Treatment for a shopping addiction usually begins with a period of behavior modification, by means of one form of therapy or another, (this includes CBD, which we covered last week!)

It’s never an easy process to struggle with this kind of addiction yourself, or watch a loved one go through it. If you are, or someone that you know is – you can get help now.

Please speak to us if you have any questions.


Shopping Addiction Symptoms, Causes and Effects


What is Internet Addiction?
Internet addiction disorder (IAD), is also known as problematic internet use or pathological internet use – this is generally defined as a problematic, compulsive use of the internet, that results in an impairment in an individual’s function over a prolonged period of time.
This type of addiction can vary across several areas, including computer or gaming addiction, and compulsive information seeking.

Symptoms include:

Being preoccupied with the internet (thinking about the previous online activity or anticipating the next online session).
An uncontrollable need to use the internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction.
Being restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop internet use.
Jeopardising or risking the loss of a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of the internet.
Lying to family members, therapists, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the internet.
Using the internet as a way of escaping from problems

An internet addiction can have many harmful effects on a person, both physically and emotionally – If someone you know is suffering from excessive internet abuse, try to express your concerns with their behaviours, and make an intervention.

Therapy is generally incorporated into the treatment of addiction along with any co-occurring disorders that may be present such as anxiety, depression, and/or obsessive-compulsive disorder – If you or a loved one is struggling with an Internet addiction, please chat to us today.