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Addiction: Frequently Asked Questions (Advanced)


What is denial?

When a person takes alcohol or drugs excessively, several problems arise which are clearly visible to others. Yet the person continues to say that he has no problems at all. This is called 'denial'. Addicts deny their problem in order to protect themselves from feeling hurt, sad or guilty and also to continue with their drinking or drug-taking.

Denial can be observed in various forms:

  1. Simple denial : The addict says he has no problem with drinking or drug-taking
  2. Blaming : Claiming that others are the cause of his addiction
  3. Minimising : Accepting the problem of addiction but claiming it's only a small problem
  4. Rationalising : Producing 'intelligent' excuses for addiction li>
  5. Diverting : Avoiding any talk about his addiction
  6. Aggression : Initiating fights and quarrels, which provides an excuse to drink or take drugs

What are the physiological facets of addiction?

Physical dependence as characterised by tolerance is defined by either of the following :

Withdrawal is manifested as either of the following :

  1. Development of a substance-specific syndrome due to the cessation of or reduction in the intake of a substance that the person previously used regularly. In case of alcohol: increased hand tremors, insomnia, nausea or vomiting, anxiety, rum-fits, irritability. In case of drugs: dysphoric mood (excessive restlessness and impatience), muscle aches, pupilary dilation, piloerection (goose bumps) or sweating, diarrhoea, yawning, fever, delirium tremens, hallucinations etc.
  2. Clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational and other important areas of functioning.

Medical complications caused by substance abuse are as follows :

What are the emotional aspects of addiction?

It is argued that addiction is essentially an emotional problem. We at Sadbhav are not interested in analysing whether the emotional problems are the root causes of addiction or not. But here we would like to present some of our observations.

What are the emotional problems caused by addiction?

As stated earlier, addiction has definite emotional consequences. We have observed the following emotional consequences :

After cessation of addiction following feelings are most often experienced - disgusted, resentful, bitter, detested, fed-up, frustrated, sad, depressed, sick, dissatisfied, fatigued, worn-out, useless, weak, hopeless, rejected, guilty, embarrassed, inhibited, bewildered, frightened, anxious, dismayed, apprehensive, disturbed, antagonistic, vengeful, indignant, mad, torn.

Now here is the list of extreme emotions experienced by the addicts. All the following feelings are intense and "inappropriate": Hate, unloved, abhorrence, despised, angry, hurt, miserable, pain, lonely, cynical, worthless, impotent, futile, accursed, abandoned, degraded, humiliated, shocked, panicky, trapped, horrified, afraid, scared, terrified, threatened, infuriated, furious, exhausted.

What is addictive thinking?

We at Sadbhav believe that it is largely the patients' self-defeating thoughts and resulting feelings and actions that sabotage their lives. Many of our recovering patients share that it is their "thinking" rather than "using" that leads towards or away from the "first drink". Therefore AA slogans like "One day at a time", "Easy does it but do it" are the guiding thoughts that keep patients away from the first drink. Thousands of fellow members of AA & NA admit that these slogans have been helping them to stay sober.

We have listed below some characteristic features of addictive thoughts and general beliefs leading to self-sabotaging behavior.

Qualitative descriptions of addictive thinking :

Common content or theme of addictive thinking :

What are the interpersonal problems caused by addiction?

Addiction directly affects the interpersonal relationships of the person. The wife and/or mother of the person are the first victims of addiction followed by other family members. We have observed that in almost all cases, the interpersonal relationships are shattered in one way or other.

The most common problems faced by an addict are related to love :

How is the behavior during active addiction?

Behavior is marked by the following :

Can an addict have a productive life?

Addiction results in diminishing capacity to work and/or have a productive life. Based on our experience following responses are observed towards productive work during addiction :

What about disorganised social life and financial problems?

During active substance abuse, the person faces several social and financial problems. The indicative symptoms are given below.

Social problems :

Financial problems :

What is REBT?

Created in 1955 by Dr. Albert Ellis, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is an action-oriented therapeutic approach that stimulates emotional growth by teaching people to replace their self-defeating thoughts, feelings and actions with new and more effective ones. REBT teaches individuals to be responsible for their own emotions and gives them the power to change and overcome their unhealthy behaviors that interfere with their ability to function and enjoy life.