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Dealing with psychological issues of addiction

The brain has communication system that sends information through neurons and over a period these are formed as pathways. When these are blocked there is discomfort, as we feel when our familiar route is being blocked. Several changes take place in the brain during addictive behaviour.

A habit can be stopped or can break but when it comes to addiction it is difficult to stop or discontinue due to the painful withdrawal symptoms. These un pleasant symptoms force the individual to continue the drugs. So, the habit will become addictions. The physical dependency and withdrawal symptoms are important cause to continue the addiction.

The other causes are peer pressure, easy way to obtain the drugs, lack of coping skills, poor interpersonal relationships, inability to see the long-term effects, no proper goal/aim in life and lack of intrinsic motivation to come out. Medication plays a vital role in recovery. Exploring and understanding the psychological issues or causes for addiction is important.

To recover from addiction, self/intrinsic motivation plays a major part. Research revealed that self-motivation and sustained effort are common factors for successful recovery from addiction. The individual should adapt a belief that change is possible and can cope with the situations. They must develop a sense of meaning and purpose of life by learning new coping skills, developing good relationship with immediate family members and building up new hobbies.

They ought to keep avoiding people or friends who are in to addictive behavior by changing the peer group, avoiding the visual clues like not going to the places where drugs are available. Having a daily schedule keeps them busy, which is also distraction from drugs.  Family should be supportive during the recovery. As recovery is a dynamic lifelong commitment, family support is indispensable.

Family should not be either angry, resentful or pretend as nothing is wrong; they must be nonjudgmental. Family should engage the loved one in activities and motivate them for regular physical exercises; meditation and participating in group games and avoid stressors within the family.

Family should be able to identify the early warning signs to avoid the relapse. With self-intrinsic motivation and family support recovery is effortless and speedy. (The writer is Clinical Psychologist, Citizens Speciality Hospitals.)