Addiction is a disorder characterised by compulsive, ongoing, repetitive engagement in harmful behaviours or substances. It includes obsessive use of substances, and/or harmful activity not involving substance use.

Addiction covers both taking something (such as habit-forming drugs, like cocaine, dagga and alcohol) or doing something (like compulsive gambling, eating disorders, sex addictions). The person loses control and continues with the activity, despite knowing that it is causing serious harm and despite protests and warnings by other people.

Over time, there is progressive tolerance development that demands an increase in the volume of the substance or the frequency or intensity of engagement. The individual will begin to need more of it, more often, to get the same satisfaction that they experienced in the past.

Thoughts and actions related to the addiction increasingly dominate the abuser’s priorities over other aspects of their life. They focus on the addiction – Duties, commitments, relationships, finances, interests, social status and health are neglected in favour of nurturing the addiction.

When the short term reward effect of the activity wears off, it is followed by unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and a strong craving to repeat the act. To subdue this, they may take abnormal risks to overcome obstacles to replenish the addictive substance or to repeat the act.

Addicts find it extremely difficult to stop or reduce an addiction on their own. They also (usually) resist efforts by other people to arrange treatment for them. They fear that they will not be able to cope with life if the addiction is removed. If addicts refuse treatment, various intervention methods can be used to persuade a person to seek and to accept formalised treatment.

Medical facilities and prescription medication subdue the withdrawals. New, meaningful therapy techniques effectively treat the underlying emotional dysfunctions that made them vulnerable in the first place and enables them to lead a normal, happy life without drugs. They are also fortified to handle real life incidents that emerge when they resume a sober life. Please phone the number at the top of this page for more advice or to arrange a confidential appointment with a qualified therapist.