When living with addiction, it can be hard to know where to turn. It’s normal to feel lost and alone. At Oasis Bradford, we’re here to show you that there is hope.
Addiction is not your fault; with the right support, recovery is possible for anyone. Our compassionate, expert-led residential programmes can help you leave addiction behind and start building a better life.
What is addiction?
Addiction is when you compulsively seek, use a substance, or engage in a behaviour despite any negative consequences. It’s not a choice or a sign of a lack of willpower but a medical condition. It’s characterised by physical changes in the brain that make it difficult to stop or reduce substance use without long-term support.
What is the root cause of addiction?
If you’re struggling with addiction, it can be hard to trace where it all began. For most people, addiction is about much more than the substance or the behaviour. It’s usually either a consequence or a symptom of underlying issues that lead to drugs or alcohol, driving a substance abuse or behavioural disorder.
The root cause of addiction varies between individuals and is often a complex interplay of issues. Some people may see it as a way to cope with co-occurring mental health disorders like anxiety or depression, while in the long term, it exacerbates these concerns. For others, it may fill a sense of loss from childhood trauma or represent a source of meaning or purpose they’d otherwise struggle to find.
Whatever the root cause of your addiction, identifying, addressing, and healing from it is the key to effective recovery.
What are the different types of addiction?
There are many addictive substances, from depressants like heroin to stimulants like cocaine. However, all addictions develop from underlying causes and can be treated with holistic, evidence-based approaches.
Alcohol is widely available in the UK; most people have had a drink at some point in their lives. However, alcohol misuse can easily lead to a potentially dangerous dependence or addiction.
Prescription Drug Addiction
When it comes to prescription drugs, while medically beneficial, they can be just as addictive as street drugs. Learn more about how to spot prescription drug addiction and how it can be prevented.
Behavioural addictions involve activities such as gambling, porn, and shopping. While they do not cause physical withdrawal, they can dramatically alter behaviours and lead to additional mental health issues.
Signs and symptoms
Addiction can manifest in hidden and unexpected ways, and the following signs and symptoms are not exhaustive. If you’re concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling, you may want to contact a mental health professional for expert advice.
Some of the behavioural, psychological, and physical signs and symptoms of addiction include the following:
- Finding that your thoughts are preoccupied with acquiring and using a substance or engaging in a behaviour
- Neglecting home and work responsibilities as a result of addiction
- Financial difficulties
- Social isolation
- Strained relationships with loved ones
- Experiencing physical or psychological issues when you try to stop using a substance
- Neglect of personal hygiene and self-care
- Being unable to stop or reduce an addictive behaviour when you try to
People with addiction may feel as if no one will understand and try to hide their condition, especially if exposed to misconceptions and stigma. This can make addiction even harder to spot. Some additional signs to look out for include:
- Lying or secretive behaviour
- Unexplained outings
- Changes in friend groups
It’s important not to rely on lists and general information too much. Everyone experiences addiction differently, and some signs can easily be overlooked. Only a trained professional can offer an accurate addiction assessment or diagnosis.
Addiction as a family disease
Addiction often has a pervasive effect on the family, straining relationships and impacting the mental and physical wellbeing of loved ones.
On the other hand, a stable and supportive family can be a huge aid to someone’s recovery journey. It can be a crucial aspect of addiction help and provide the stability people need to go the distance.
There is no single cause of addiction, and each individual has a different story of how their condition developed. However, certain risk factors make it more likely that you will develop an addiction. These include:
- Genetics, which play a significant role in developing an addiction
- Exposure to early life adversity, such as childhood neglect or abuse
- Experiencing trauma
- Growing up in a household with alcohol or drug addiction
- Ineffective social support structures or lack of access
- Using substances during adolescence
Many who experience these factors do not develop an addiction, while others develop it without experiencing any of these factors. However, understanding risk factors can play an important role in preventing addiction and substance abuse. It can help individuals and institutions implement interventions and take other measures for those most at risk.
How does addiction affect the brain?
Whatever the substance or behaviour, all types of addiction share a common pattern of interactions with our brain’s reward systems. In particular, the dopaminergic reward system.
Our reward system is a normal and important function of the brain, helping to reinforce life-preserving behaviours such as eating or having sex. When you engage in these activities, your brain releases a small amount of dopamine, altering neuronal connections along the pathway and forming habits.
Taking an addictive substance hijacks this system and increases the dopamine in the brain, often to a much higher level than average. Likewise, engaging in addictive behaviours that offer a “reward” also causes a release of dopamine, even when the activity is no longer (or never was) beneficial to your well-being. These interactions lead to the development of compulsive behaviours. These are characterised by strong urges to use a substance or engage in behaviour that is very difficult to resist without adequate support. This is commonly known as cravings.
Brain imaging studies show the dramatic difference between the brain of someone in active addiction and someone who is not. They also show how treatment and abstinence can go a long way to reversing these changes and helping you manage urges and cravings.
How can you treat addiction?
At Oasis Bradford, we offer holistic treatment for addiction, beginning with an inpatient detox. As you move through the withdrawal process, you’ll be surrounded by professional medics 24/7. They’ll help you manage your symptoms and ensure you feel safe at all times.
Once you’ve completed detox, you’re ready to enter long-term addiction rehab. At Oasis Bradford, we also offer lifetime aftercare, including weekly sessions at our centre, to guide you through the rest of your journey.
Start your recovery journey today
If you recognise some of the signs of addiction discussed above, then it could be that you or a loved one may be living with addiction.
We have all the care, support, and expertise you need to achieve lasting recovery from addiction. Contact us now to start your journey.