Substance Addiction

Substance addiction research has clearly demonstrated that the addicted brain is chemically and physiologically different from a normal brain. The idea of addiction being a neurological disorder is critical to understanding its development and the recovery process.

A person suffering from substance addiction may understand the cycle of addiction, but will remain unable to break the repetition of the cycle until they develop the insight to seek help from a professional therapist.



Addiction Defined

Addiction is defined as obsessive thinking and  a compulsive need for drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gaming, pornography, shopping or anything despite the resulting negative consequences. Addiction includes the development of tolerance combined with withdrawal symptoms. In addition to an increased tolerance, a person suffering from addiction will experience intense physical cravings for a substance or an emotional obsession with a process regardless of the consequences. Addiction develops over time and usually begins with misuse, moving toward abuse and resulting in addiction.


Addiction Effects on the Brain

Addiction use alters the way the brain and certain neurotransmitters function. These changes in brain chemistry create addiction, tolerance and withdrawal symptoms, which all lead to cravings.

The neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine send messages to the brain and the rest of the body. The altered brain chemistry essentially requires constant, repetitive exposure to the substance or action to function psychologically and physiologically. This chemical dependence leads to tolerance and withdrawal symptoms, two of the hallmarks of substance abuse addiction that most often require a professionally monitored alcohol and drug detox.

Addiction alters the brain chemistry affecting the process of thought and decision-making. The definition of addiction also includes strong references to denial, minimization and justification, all of which are primitive internal defense mechanisms. After the addiction is acknowledged, the addict may ultimately be forced to decide to stop using chemicals, thus breaking the cycle of addiction. The abnormal, addicted brain cannot tolerate that decision. The cycle of addiction is powerful, usually requiring outside interventions that include detox and / or substance abuse treatment.

I have a specialised degree specifically in addiction treatment for individuals and familys suffering from addiction. Please call me if you are suffering under addiction and we can schedule an assessment. Call me on 087 653 8837 for more information.


Siobhan Leijen

Siobhan Leijen

I am a certified professional therapist offering counselling to clients in the Athlone and Longford area. CBT Certified, Degree in Addiction Studies, Diploma in Psychotherapy, Family Therapy Certified, Motivational Interview Certified, Trauma Therapy Certified and EMDR Certified.

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