Psychotherapy is one of the most important and effective tools that can be used to help people addicted to substances or addicted to processes (gambling, betting). Both psychotherapy aimed at changing personality and relationships, supporting the growth and maturation of personality (psychoanalysis, psychodynamic and interpersonal psychotherapy, existential and humanistic psychotherapy) and psychotherapy focused on changing (symptomatic) behavior are effective. This includes behavioral and cognitive behavioral therapy, but also systemic, structural and communication therapies, involving work with family units.
The essence of addiction is the loss of control over the use of a substance or behavior. It takes place at the physiological level, at the level of thinking and behavior. It is accompanied by an uncontrollable desire, a withdrawal state, and an inability to stop and end addictive behavior. The causes of addiction are very complex. It is most often a complex combination of physiological (whether innate or acquired), psychological and sociocultural factors.
Addiction syndrome may be present for a specific substance (eg alcohol), a class of substances (eg opioids) or a wider range of different substances. These are most often addictions to alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs (marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin…) and drugs (sedatives, hypnotics, opioid analgesics). Addiction to gambling is considered an addictive and impulsive disorder. However, the practice of treating these disorders is treated in a very similar way to an object-specified addiction. Neurobiological research is increasingly proving that both psychoactive substances and gambling stimulate neurobiological systems and the dopamine reward system in similar ways, which is attributed a primary role in the development and maintenance of addiction.
The main features of addiction include craving, an irresistible desire that forces us to use the substance or performing activities that bring us a pleasant state. Furthermore, it is a withdrawal condition that causes unpleasant moments when the substance is not available to us. There are difficulties in self-control, when we can not control the amount of substance used, or the beginning and end of use or play. Tolerance increases, we must use more and more of a substance to achieve the desired state. We gradually neglect obligations, pleasures or other interests in favor of the substance or game used. Finally, we find that we use the substance even though there is clear evidence of harmfulness that we are made aware of ourselves or by our surroundings.
If an individual is interested in getting rid of addiction, motivation is essential. He or she needs to realize what the negative addiction brings him or her, at the same time what benefits it will bring him or her if he or she starts abstinence. If we want to get rid of addiction, change is essential. The change is not only in the fact that we stop using or playing a certain addictive substance. Abstinence is a necessary condition, but alone it is not enough and does not guarantee life satisfaction. It is important to make changes in other areas of life as well. In this regard, it is sometimes necessary to look for professionals who can help with this, a doctor-psychiatrist, addictologist, psychotherapist, social worker and others.
Psychotherapy assists in achieving the change needed to develop the potential for positive mental health. The goals of psychotherapy correspond to a specific focus. In terms of addiction it can be such as complete recovery, relief or reduction of symptoms, behavioral adjustment, improvement of psychosocial adaptation, support of growth and maturation, coping, and solving life problems and crises.
“Apart from a completely catastrophic childhood, my brother and I are connected by business. It was he who brought me to online psychotherapy. He said it helped. In all respects, however, it was I who had been marked by the past far more. To escape everything, I moved to the other side of the world, I seldom fell asleep sober and practically never alone, sex was my obsession. I knew it was unbearable myself, but it was impossible to stop. For a long time, therapy became the only strong point in the chaos that I called life. What do I owe to my therapist? That he is with me as I confront my past. I don’t want to run anymore, but finally live.”