Addictions are an epidemic, a problem that afflicts millions of people around the world and affects both their physical and mental health as well as that of their families and loved ones.
Whether it is to a substance like alcohol or cocaine, to food, to sex, or to other addictive behaviors, addictions do not occur spontaneously or on a whim, but because they have experienced highly traumatic or, at the very least, emotionally disturbing personal events.
The emotional causes of addictions can be variedthen we will explore them, also seeing how difficult it is for patients to be released when they are not properly resolved.
The emotional causes of addictions
People don’t become addicted overnight. Addictions are often caused by a very tense and emotionally disruptive life with traumatic episodes in your personal history. Whether it’s tobacco, alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, or even behaviors such as sex, eating, or compulsive buying, the truth is that your addiction is not generated spontaneously and by chance. in mentally healthy people with high self-esteem and security.
Addiction, both to substance and behavioral addiction, represents a high emotional cost for patients and their families. These problems develop in environments where there have been previous emotional disturbances, where feelings such as guilt, worthlessness, anxiety, shame and sadness have predisposed the person to fall into the clutches of addictions. Whatever the type of addiction, it creates emotional complications for all those who fall into it, in addition to affecting the social environment of the dependent patient.
Naturally, the greatest emotional impact of substance use or addiction to certain behaviors is felt by the addict themselves. However, spouses, children, parents, grandparents, siblings, the rest of the extended family and close friends can also be affected by the severe repercussions of their loved one’s addiction. Your emotional reactions to the situation can be very varied, but stress, pain and discouragement are ubiquitous emotions..
Emotional risk factors
Often people who use drugs or have problematic addictive behaviors do your way of escaping unpleasant emotions you are experiencing or trying to forget psychological stress or a traumatic memory. Indeed, adult drug addicts are often individuals whose childhood was marked by traumatic events. Adulthood also does not dispense with being the scene of traumatic events, which make the person feel emotionally overwhelmed by stress, sadness, anxiety, guilt and psychological tension in general.
Some of the most common emotional risk factors for addiction are:
- Physical or sexual emotional abuse in childhood.
- Distant or neglectful parenting styles.
- Being the victim of harassment.
- Being a victim of domestic violence.
- Survive a life-threatening natural disaster.
- Losing a loved one through death, divorce or disappearance.
All of these events can cause the person to develop deep psychological problems, encouraged by emotions such as guilt or shame at the idea that some of the misfortunes that have happened to him are his responsibility. Certainly, there are individuals who blame themselves for having been sexually abused in their childhood, for having been victims of domestic violence or the death of a member of their family, constantly wondering what they could have done to deserve it or how they could have avoided it. .
Addiction, especially to substances, develops easily in people who they use them to stabilize their emotional state, either to calm their pain and silence their traumatic memories, or to feel something, as trauma can cause deep sadness and anxiety or apathy and disconnection from the world. No matter what drugs they use or addictive behaviors, this strategy won’t work for them in the long run, if at some point it worked for them.
By focusing on drugs, the human body eventually generates a tolerance towards them. As the consumer’s body becomes accustomed to the substance, more and more drugs will need to be taken to achieve the desired effects, either calming or activating. This is the main risk of developing an addiction because the greater the tolerance, the greater the quantity to be taken and, therefore, the greater the risk of physical dependence.
The use of drugs causes a paradoxical situation. First they are taken to stop feeling bad, but as the person gets into an addiction that becomes harder and harder to get out of, the person gets emotionally worse. What first served to suppress or forget painful memories and emotions is the same thing that now causes such emotions because not being able to get off a drug causes embarrassment, feelings of anxiety, and a feeling of uselessness.
So in some cases, the emotional causes of addictions become the much more serious consequences. In turn, they increase the risk that the patient will resort to another addiction to get rid of the unpleasant emotions of the first, which initiates a dangerous vicious dynamic of increasingly addictive behaviors, even with substances such as behavioral ones. When the addiction sets in, the person experiences dramatic mood swings, low self-esteem, and low self-esteem.
About half of people with a substance use disorder have other mental health problems. Among the most common mental disorders are mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and behavioral problems.
Emotional consequences of addictions
As we have said, addictions have an important origin in emotional problems, but in turn, they cause them. That is, the same emotions that drive a person to use end up showing up when they become addicted, but in a much worse way. Emotional stability is severely impaired after falling into a substance or behavior addiction.
Some of the reactions to drug addiction are as follows.
Beyond the denial that many experience, these patients are aware of the consequences of their behavior on their immediate environment, which makes them feel very guilty. The guilt of feeling that they are not able to stop their problematic behavior can overcome them and cause them a lot of pain.. Unfortunately, guilt and shame put an end to a person’s self-esteem, and a person’s lack of self-esteem makes it harder for addicts to find the courage to break the addiction.
People with drug addiction fear stigma related to exposure and possible loss of relationships and employment. Moreover, they live with the fear that if more people than those who know about their addiction find out about it, they will completely lose their dignity and be exposed to social criticism.
3. Impotence and helplessness
Many addicts try to break free from addiction, but find it difficult to stay sober without help from anyone. After trying for a while, they begin to feel helpless, at the mercy of their addiction, which makes them feel a complete loss of freedom and control over their lives. This further aggravates the situation, loses self-esteem and does not believe that you can get out of the well.
Addictions are an obstacle to the achievement of vital objectives, in addition to alienating those who suffer from them from their personal obligations if they do not do nothing or seek help to change their situation. All that it contributes to the generation of feelings of deep sadness, which lead the patient to depression.
Addicted people are angry at the world, at others, and especially at themselves. They feel that the world is turning its back on them and leaving them no hope of moving forward.they may see others as people who have either made them fall into addiction or are unsupportive of them, and most importantly, they see themselves as people with no will or able to free themselves from the tyranny of addiction.
At some point, many addicts give up they are convinced that there is nothing they can do to get rid of the addiction. Experts believe that this point is especially dangerous during addiction, so it means that the person thinks they have reached rock bottom, that there is no hope for him, that he has no future. He needs urgent help, otherwise something very serious could happen.
The Effect of Drug Addiction on Family and Friends
Family and friends witness how their loved one spirals into a spiral of drugs and other addictions. This process leads them to feel the same emotions as the addict himself: anger, helplessness, depression, fear, guilt… Addiction affects the whole family, creating a hostile and precarious environment for each of them, something that does not is not properly resolved the addiction worsens even further, making it increasingly difficult to break free.
Uncertainty about what might happen in the future is another emotion felt by those close to drug addicts. Drug addiction is a life-threatening condition, of which those close to the addict are well aware, fearing that one day they will receive a call or knock on their door to inform them that they have had an accident, overdosed or that they have finished with his life. Living with a dependent person it produces constant insecurity, accompanied by anxiety.
Willpower can be helpful in getting rid of addiction, but Professional help is really the most effective for this type of problem. Treatment is used to manage the emotions that triggered the addiction in the first place, while also managing those that are the product of the addiction itself and increase the risk of the addiction worsening.
If deemed appropriate, especially with people who are alcoholics and addicted to strong drugs like cocaine, enter a rehabilitation center. In these places there are other patients, all working together to achieve the same goals, which are sobriety and freedom from the chains of addiction. At these centers, the messages are positive and hopeful, motivating patients to imagine a bright future free of dangerous and harmful drugs.
During therapy, patients also learn to recognize the triggers that motivate them to use drugs, avoid them, or learn to live with them., fighting against his desire to consume or “craving” and avoiding to base his sobriety. They will also develop strategies to resist their inner voice telling them that “for a moment nothing is happening”.
It is essential that the family is involved throughout the therapy, because the family environment is also at the origin of the emotional causes of the addictions, while receiving the consequences. Loved ones should be allowed to talk about their feelings and the impact addiction has had on their lives. The idea in family therapy is not to blame or embarrass the addict, because these emotions are never productive. What needs to be done is to facilitate good communication, mutual respect and generate a more constructive family dynamic.
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