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Dr Philip Hopley and Dr Tim Anstiss discuss addictive behaviours, focusing on drugs, alcohol and gambling.

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Addictive Behaviours

Addictive behaviours – such as those associated with alcohol, smoking, recreational drugs, some prescribed medication and gambling – are diagnosed when even though the behaviour is causing a person significant harm, the person experiences real difficulty cutting down or stopping the behaviour. The harm might be to their physical or mental health, their relationships, their ability to work or performance at work, their finances or another aspect of their life. The person can experience a strong urge to continue with the behaviour, and thinking about the behaviour can come to occupy more and more of the person’s life.

Sometimes, in addition to the addictive behaviour, the person can experience a range of unwanted emotions such as anxiety, depression, guilt, shame and even anger with themselves.

There are a range of things you can do if you are concerned that perhaps you have become addicted to a substance or a particular behaviour, or if you know that you have.

Here are our top tips:

  1. Recognise that you may have a problem in this area. Be honest with yourself
  2. Talk with a trusted friend or family members about your struggle. And your desire to do something about it.
  3. Seek professional help. There are lots of caring and experienced people ready to listen to you and offer you help, guidance and support. Talk to your GP, Club Doctor, a mental health professional, or contact the confidential helpline (01373 858 080)
  4. Be optimistic. People stop or control addictive behaviours all the time. Thousands of people are stopping smoking, stopping alcohol, stopping gambling and getting more control of their lives right now. You can do the same.
  5. Think, perhaps, about the role the substance or behaviour is fulfilling in your life. What is its function, its purpose? Does it help you block out unwanted thoughts or feelings, like sadness, anxiety, boredom or feelings of failure? Does it help you to escape from something? To help you relax and unwind? Some people find that when they gain insight into WHY they continue to do the behaviour, this can help them develop strategies – like problem solving, self-acceptance, changed thinking patterns, relaxation skills, etc. – to help them deal with some of the underlying causes.

For further information, please visit:

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Addiction/Pages/addictionhome.aspx

http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/addiction/Pages/gamblingaddiction.aspx

http://www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk/

http://www.gamcare.org.uk/

http://epicpgc.com/