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Understanding addiction

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It is not what you think it is

It is not a matter of willpower. It is not simply a phase that the person will ‘grow out of'. It is not a lifestyle choice where you can tell someone to snap out of, and still that someone continues helplessly.
It is a medical condition that requires diagnosis and treatment. It is a complex brain disorder that involves biological and psychological components. Most importantly, it is treatable and preventable.

The science behind addiction

All of us wants to feel good and this feeling of pleasure can come from various avenues: money, food, sex. The brain will release dopamine into our reward center, resulting in the feeling of pleasure.
When you take a drug, it floods the reward center with dopamine. Over time, the brain becomes overwhelmed and start producing less dopamine, and increased amount of the same drug is required to stimulate the same intensity of pleasure.

The hidden symptoms of addiction

1.

Spend a lot of time and energy trying to get the same substance or access the same behaviour

2.

Little success recovering from intoxication and withdrawal

3.

Attempt to conceal their habits and come up with reasons to absent themselves from social and workplace commitments

4.

Emotionally distraught or easily agitated if they attempt to break away from the habit

5.

Struggle to abstain from using the substance and may feel depressed or anxious

Implications of addiction

1.

Self-stigmatisation, self-loathing, unable to come to terms with their irrational behaviour

2.

Suffer from depression, anxiety, and possibly psychosis

3.

Driven to crime to fuel the addiction

4.

Strained relationships with family and closed ones

5.

Despair whether they can return to their former productive lives and meaningful relationships

What can we do?

1.

Familiarise ourselves on this topic and do not judge

2.

Set examples by displaying non-addictive behaviours and responsible usage of alcohol

Below are some places where you can encourage the person to seek help:

1.

Self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

2.

Addiction counselling at We Care Community Services

3.

Detoxification services at National Addictions Management Service (NAMS)

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