Addictions: Root Causes & How to Overcome Them

Addictions are complex mental health conditions that impact many areas of life.  They can arise from various factors, including genetic predisposition, environmental influences, and psychological factors, such as low self-esteem and negative body image. As a therapist specialising in treating addictions, I enjoy working on the root causes of these conditions and how they can be overcome.

Addiction is often depicted as an isolated phenomenon, a faulty system of reward-seeking behaviour and poor insight into its cost. But addiction manifests decades-old belief patterns, the roots of which can be tricky to access or measure.

I believe addiction theory and treatment must go deeper and engage primitive learning in emotion regulation and attachment. Individuals learn over time to be addicts to get core and basic needs met; before we take the addiction away, it is important to know what these needs are and identify alternate ways of getting them met.  Further harm will occur without getting to the origins of the desire that drives addiction.

Common risk factors for developing an addiction include having a limited social network, trauma, having a social network that consists of other individuals active in addiction, and low self-esteem. Internal family systems therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and family-based therapy can be valuable ways to foster mindfulness, heal trauma, challenge maladaptive beliefs, and repair relationships. Building a strong support network for recovery – including the ways family and friends show up – is vital to maintaining a life of sobriety.

Slips are a part of recovery. It is very rare that people decide to get sober and stay sober their first time. It is expected that individuals get triggered and have a setback. It is important not whether the slip occurred, but how one responds to it. That is the difference between a setback and a relapse. If you’re interested in learning more about my thoughts on addiction and how I work with individuals in recovery, please reach out.

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