Addiction Awareness

Addiction, trauma and mental health

What causes addiction and how does it start?

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This subject has provoked many debates among experts and the general conclusion has always found a selection of possible answers. It is agreed that there is not one singular component that can be attributed to an addiction beginning. Most individuals have their own explanations for why they have become dependent on something though sometimes the cause is never known nor understood.

How Do They Start?

Many activities that lead to addiction can be triggered by something as simple as a social event; this may be trying alcohol, the first experimentation with cannabis, a one night stand, or any of the other substances or activities that people become addicted to.

A person may become psychologically or physically dependent on a prescribed drug that was initially given for legitimate reasons. They may be scared of the withdrawal or coping with everyday life without it; this is especially true for pain relief and anti-depressants.

Experimentation and peer pressure explain why many individuals try substances for the first time, with items such as tobacco, cocaine and heroine. In other circumstances, or with a different circle of friends, some of these addictions may never have started.

The psychological ‘high’ experienced from certain activities may cause the person to crave the feeling again, emotions such as those felt when making a new purchase, winning a bet or sleeping with someone new can excite the senses and trigger a yearning.

Causes Of Addiction

Genetic disposition has been explored as a legitimate reason for an addiction, and though most experts agree that it has some credibility, there is no conclusive evidence that this is so.

Peer pressure is highly accountable for triggering an addiction and many smokers apportion this with the blame for their addiction.

The environment in which we grow up and are exposed to may be answerable for some addictions; continuous exposure to alcohol and heavy drinkers, might be experienced through living above a pub and may permit this addiction to seem easily accessible and exempt of blame or title.

Many people blame their addiction as a way of managing stress; it is easy to excuse a few drinks after work as a way of relieving troubles but for how long and to what volume can stress take the blame?

A person’s self-esteem and body image may have a role to play in addiction; those whom are overly enthusiastic about diet and exercise (particularly those suffering with anorexia), may have started their addictive behaviour as a result of low or altered body image.

The chemistry of the brain is accountable for many addictions as the receptors in the brain can cause the individuals to crave a substance such as heroine, and gaining control over these cravings can be a very difficult struggle. Personality can take a part in addiction as many people simply have the type of personality that becomes addicted to something.

For many people suffering from an addiction, the cause is never known though it is important to discover the root of the problem hence the cause before an effective plan of care is prepared.


September 4, 2010 Posted by | addiction, dependency, physical, psychological | , , , | Leave a comment

What is caffeine addiction?

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Caffeine belongs to a class of compounds called xanthines, its chemical formula being 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine. Caffeine is classified together with cocaine and amphetamines as an analeptic, or central nervous system stimulant. Coffee is the most abundant source of caffeine, although caffeine is also found in tea, cocoa, and cola beverages as well as in over-the-counter and prescription medications for pain relief.

When a person ingests caffeine it is absorbed from the digestive tract without being broken down. It is rapidly distributed throughout the tissues of the body by means of the bloodstream. If a pregnant woman drinks a cup of coffee or tea, the caffeine in the drink will cross the placental barrier and enter the baby’s bloodstream.

When the caffeine reaches the brain, it increases the secretion of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that is associated with the “fight or flight” stress response. The rise in norepinephrine levels and the increased activity of the neurons, or nerve cells, in many other areas of the brain creates symptoms which resemble those of a panic attack.

The effects of caffeine are thought to occur as a result of competitive antagonism at adenosine receptors. Adenosine is a water-soluble compound of adenine and ribose; it functions to modulate the activities of nerve cells and produces a mild sedative effect when it activates certain types of adenosine receptors. Caffeine competes with adenosine to bind at these receptors and counteracts the sedative effects of the adenosine. If the person stops drinking coffee, the adenosine has no competition for activating its usual receptors and may produce a sedative effect that is experienced as fatigue or drowsiness.

To meet DSM-IV-TR criteria for caffeine intoxication, a person must develop five or more of the twelve symptoms listed below; the symptoms must cause significant distress or impair the person’s social or occupational functioning; and the symptoms must not be caused by a medical disorder or better accounted for by an anxiety disorder or other mental disorder.

• restlessness
• nervousness
• excitement
• insomnia
• flushed face
• diuresis (increased urinary output)
• gastrointestinal disturbance
• muscle twitching
• talking or thinking in a rambling manner
• tachycardia (speeded-up heartbeat) or disturbances of heart rhythm
• periods of inexhaustibility
• psychomotor agitation

The precise amount of caffeine necessary to produce symptoms varies from person to person depending on body size and degree of tolerance to caffeine. Tolerance of the stimulating effects of caffeine builds up rapidly in humans; mild withdrawal symptoms have been reported in persons who were drinking as little as one to two cups of coffee per day. As a rough guide though; caffeine can produce a range of physical symptoms following ingestion of as little as 100 mg, and amounts of 250 mg or higher are usually needed to produce symptoms that meet the criteria of caffeine intoxication.
As well as the above list people have reported ringing in the ears or seeing flashes of light at doses of caffeine above 250 mg. And if a person continues to ingest caffeine they may experience seizures, breathing difficulty and eventually death.

August 7, 2010 Posted by | addiction, caffeine, dependency, physical, psychological | , , , , | 1 Comment

About Addiction

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One in three people suffer from an addiction. It breaks up families, damages communities and destroys lives. In some way it touches us all.

Despite this, there is a great deal of misunderstanding about addiction – what it is, who it effects and how to get help and support. Addiction is characterised by a consuming relationship with a substance or behaviour that is driven by a conscious or unconscious desire to feel something different, which results in a range of harmful consequences.

An addiction is defined as a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity. It can therefore refer to more than just alcohol, drugs and nicotine.

Gambling addiction is the fastest growing addiction problem in the UK. Like any other addiction it can be tackled effectively through treatment and rehabilitation.
Addictive relationships can include other behaviours such as sex, shopping and exercise. It is important for an addicted person to understand the connections between different compulsive behaviours as they can reinforce addictive behaviour and increase the risk of relapse.

Types of addiction

Physical dependency

This is caused when repeated use of a substance changes your body’s chemistry and you become physically dependent.

Psychological dependency

This is caused when you repeat certain behaviour, such as drug and alcohol use, until your mind is hooked on that pattern of behaviour, causing mental cravings.

August 6, 2010 Posted by | addiction, dependency, physical, psychological | , , , | Leave a comment