Breaking the Bondage of Addiction

Addictions today have become more common than we dare to accept. Many types of addictions have become socially acceptable, in these morally and spiritually bankrupt times. Good things when misused can turn into addictions.

What is Addiction?

It is dependency on a particular substance or behaviour which is impossible to break without timely intervention. It destroys the person, demoralizes the family and all those associated with him.

Society has a general tendency to consider different kinds of substance abuse as addiction, while ignoring certain behaviour patterns that are equally addictive. Food, shopping, gambling, work, or sex can turn to behaviour addictions and create problems that are just as destructive as substance abuse.

• Workaholics would be shocked if told that work has become their addiction. They believe that frenetic activity is good for mental health and wellbeing. People want to carve out positions of power and honour through their professional accomplishments. What starts as a worthy ambition soon grows into an addiction. Without work they feel enervated and depressed.

• Food becomes an emotional pacifier to satisfy longings, loneliness or low self esteem. People eat when under stress. The act of digesting the food switches off that part of the brain mechanism that makes them tense. The rise of serotonin when food is taken makes them feel good. Those who live alone and are sad or depressed are vulnerable. One woman who was eating all the time said, “I miss my husband, and my stomach does not know the difference between hunger and love.” Frenzy feeding is an addiction. It is a vicious cycle. When a depressed person snacks, his blood sugar rises and he feels good. But insulin shoots up in the blood and after a while, blood sugar falls. So he feels depressed again and reaches for a hot chocolate or a cookie.

• Gambling: Lotteries, playing cards, number games, casino games, betting at the races or even cricket matches and other sporting events can become addictive. Even losing money doesn’t deter them. They believe that luck is just around the corner. The adrenaline rush overshadows the guilt of money lost and debts piling up.

• Shopaholics are compulsive buyers. Whenever they are angry or frustrated, they find release in purchasing a pair of shoes or an expensive dress, irrespective of the money and time wasted. It makes them snap out off their moods.

• Relationships: Some people develop an over dependence on a particular person to make them feel complete or fulfilled. This may lead to stalking, threatening or harming the very person they claim to love.

• Sexual addiction is when the need for sex becomes a compulsive obsession whether marital, extramarital or same sex. 44% of sex addicts are embarrassed by what they do, but can’t help themselves nor will they seek treatment. Fetishes, pornography, rape, frottage (pawing women) flashing, are some of the ways by which they get their orgasm. This addiction is to the neurochemical changes that occur during sex. Sex addiction in women is becoming a major problem.

• Mood altering chemicals like cocaine, heroin, LSD, amphetamines, ketamine, and prescription drugs like cough syrups, sedatives, tranquillizers are habit forming. Even caffeine (one cup of coffee contains 150mgs of caffeine) is addictive. Drugs provide a feeling of well being and a false sense of power and control.

• Alcohol is a threat to modern civilization. With free availability, younger age groups are becoming hooked on alcohol. Alcoholism is said to decrease the life span of a person by twelve years. It is a depressant that affects the central nervous system immediately. No doubt it temporarily reduces tension and brings about relaxation. But in the long run, it destroys a person mentally and physically.

• Smoking is a habit very difficult to kick. It has damaging effects on liver, heart and is implicated in the cause of cancer.

All addictions, whether behavioural or chemical, are destructive. They gradually rob one of will power or self control. With drugs and alcohol, the body becomes tolerant to small amounts. So, larger quantities are needed. Mixing of drugs enhances potency, but also increases dangers. Health deteriorates. There is loss of control and inability to manage one’s affairs. Even routine jobs are difficult to perform. Behaviour becomes erratic.

Causes of Addiction:

1. Friends or family members may introduce the young impressionable teen to a glass of beer or a cigarette. This may be the beginning of a love for these substances. Recently, the case of a brandy guzzling child of five was reported. His parents started giving him brandy every day to ward off asthmatic attacks.

2. Keeping wrong company. Peer pressure can be very persuasive.

3. Disorganized home environment where parents are poor role models. There is no love, warmth or appreciation of a sensitive child. Parents may quarrel frequently or there may be domestic violence.

4. Poor and unsafe neighborhoods where drunkenness, violence and abusive behaviour is a way of life.

5. Lack of direction with no moral standards to live by. Young people can be easily influenced into wrong ways.

6. Glorification of alcohol, drugs and vices through films, TV, advertisements.

7. Easy availability of alcohol and drugs.

How to break the bondage of Addiction:

• By first admitting that one has a problem with either substances or behaviour; that life is fully out of control; that there is loss of dignity.

• By seeking help from trained counselors or psychiatrists. They will help to get to the root of the problem – Injustice? Fear? Worthlessness? Anger? Life is not a bed of roses.

Everybody has problems, but one must learn to deal with them without the aid of substances. It is important to be conscious of one’s vulnerabilities.

• Approach for alcohol and substance abuse is multidisciplinary. It needs admission to a facility dealing exclusively with these problems. Medical measures will involve detoxification and treatment of withdrawal symptoms.

Psychological management will be through:

1. Counseling individually, by which he is psychologically conditioned to stay away from drugs or alcohol. Each member of his family must also cooperate with the addict’s treatment, through love, understanding and compassion.

2. Group therapy will help the addict realize that he is not alone and that there are others in a similar situation. Here there is mutual understanding, acceptance, sharing of individual problems and sympathy.

3. Sociotherapy involves teaching the addict effective methods of adjustment to normal life. He should not be left in a high risk environment. Community reinforcements like recreation clubs, Alcoholics Anonymous, and job availability will be helpful.

Rehabilitation can be a long and hard battle depending on whether the addiction is to a substance or behaviour. It depends on the addict’s desire and determination to be cured, and the support he receives from his loved ones. Relapses may occur. But there must be the will to start all over again. Sometimes it may be a life long struggle especially with drug addicts and alcoholics. Therefore finding support groups is important.

Along with therapy, dependence on God is essential. A daily walk with God will strengthen a person enough to surmount the injustices of life, and dispel lurking fears.

The seeds of addiction are within all human beings. We need to periodically examine ourselves and see if there are things we find difficult to let go, and which have the potential to turn into addictions.

10 Common Questions Men Have About Sex Addiction

1. Question: Am I a sex addict?

Answer: There are a number of red flags that can signal an addiction to sex. A person who uses sexual activity be it intercourse, viewing pornography, phone sex, chat rooms, prostitution or masturbation as a numbing agent, something to prevent them from feeling bad, may have a sex addiction. Other indicators the sexual behavior is causing the addict problems include their spouse becoming upset over their behavior or they’ve gone into debt over payment for phone sex lines or Internet pornography sites. Spending an excessive amount of time viewing pornography Over 10 hours a week is another red flag, since this sexual behavior is interfering with time spent with friends, family or at work.

Another key factor is the addict has tried to stop engaging in sexual behavior but failed. When all these things come together, it’s time to ask a professional about getting help.

2. Question: Can I be cured?

Answer: Many sex addicts have reported being able to bring their sexual behavior under control, through any one of a variety of treatment methods. Some attend intensive rehabilitation facilities; others go to therapy sessions, attend 12 step meetings or use medication and a host of other techniques to control their sexual behavior. This can include finding a trusted person to act as an “accountability partner.” Or for pornography addicts, it can mean the use of pornography blocking computer programs.

3. Question: Does being cured mean I give up sex?

Answer: No. Unlike chemical dependencies related to alcohol or drugs, sex is recognized as a healthy aspect of life. Treatment for sex addiction, while it does involve a period of abstinence, seeks to bring harmful and unwanted troublesome sexual activity under control to where it is no longer causing harm. It may lead to stopping viewing pornography, discontinuing solicitation of prostitutes and other “bottom line” behaviors or even illegal activities. The goal is stopping harmful behavior, but certainly not giving up sex.

4. Question: Is sex addiction even real, or just something people use to excuse their behavior?

Answer: Truth be told, there are some experts who don’t feel sex addiction is real and say it’s more a product of conflicting social norms and mores. Other say sex addiction exists but do not feel it meets the definition of an addiction in the same way addiction to alcohol or drugs does. For a sex addict seeking treatment, it may be a moot point. To get treatment, first one has to recognize they have a problem and stop trying to use their own willpower alone to control it. Many people have sought treatment for sex addiction and reported results. Much of the criticism about its validity has been aimed at celebrities embroiled in public sex scandals and is hardly analogous to the average person not living in the public eye. Sex addiction is real and one struggling with unwanted sexual behaviors certainly can attest to that fact.

5. Question: What caused this? How did I get to be this way?

Answer: There is no definitive cause for sex addiction, and for each person it will be different. Many sex addicts report being sexually abused at a young age and growing up with a distorted view of sex and what a healthy sex life should be. For others, it is simply the rush of chemicals in their brain after discovering a parent’s pornography stash or coming across it in some other fashion. Still others indicate the accessibility of Internet pornography had them fall into a cycle, while there are those who turned to using sex as a numbing agent during a difficult period in their lives and began relying on it as a coping mechanism. For some growing up with abuse, neglect, abandonment and enmeshment have cause the to seek out other ways to feel good about life and themselves.

While knowing the cause of sex addiction is important, those on the path to recovery should not seek to dwell on the unchangeable past; instead, they need to focus on their present actions.

6. Question: Does viewing pornography and sexual interaction over the Internet count as cheating on my spouse?

Answer: Not to be glib, but it can depend on the spouse. Certainly many women do feel that their spouses having cybersex or phone sex with another woman qualifies as infidelity. They may not react in the exact same way as if it had been physical sex with another woman, but the impact on a relationship can be dire. First, the wife will feel betrayed. She won’t trust her husband if he’s been hiding his behavior. She may can feel bad about herself, perhaps thinking some failing on her part led the husband to seek these sexual outlets.

Even pornography viewing can be a sore spot for women. Society places a lot of pressure on women to be physically attractive and sexually desirable and they may feel they are in competition with actresses in pornographic videos. This can affect their self-esteem, even if they do not confront their husband about the behavior.

7. Question: Can medication lower my sex drive so I don’t have this problem.

Answer: Yes and no. There are medications out there that can lower a person’s sex drive, and they are often used to treat sex addiction. However, they are limited in their power to erase the problem completely. Some form of therapy, be it a 12 step program or other process, is required.

8. Question: Will I ever be cured or is this a lifelong problem?

Answer: Many people report being able to bring their sexual behaviors under control, sometimes after a period of months or years, and are living lives relatively free of problems related to sex addiction. These people have addressed the factors in their life they had once sought to control by using sex; they have now embedded into their lives multiple tools to avoid falling back into destructive addiction cycles. For some, there is always the fear they will relapse, and some do struggle with sex addiction for long periods of time. There is no quick fix for the problem.

9. Question: I’m also addicted to alcohol. Is my sex addiction just a sign that I’m susceptible to addictive behaviors in general?

Answer: In some ways, yes. Many sex addicts report being addicted to alcohol, drugs, or behaviors such as gambling. They also claim family members with various addictions. It’s certainly been theorized that a person can have a genetic predisposition to addictive behaviors. As to treating multiple addictions, it should be noted that many sex addiction treatment programs are modeled after alcohol treatment techniques developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. 12 step programs such as Sexaholics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous model their programs after and borrow their literature from that organization.

10. Question: Am I really a sex addict or is my sex drive just naturally high?

Answer: The difference between a sex addict and a person who enjoys a lot of sex has to do with why the behavior is being sought and the inability to stop an unwanted behavior as well as the obsession and compulsion. A person with a high sex drive is aroused and in most cases can control acting on that arousal. A sex addict is engaging in sex as a coping mechanism, isolating themselves from others even if they have a real life partner for the sex, and engaging in the sex act compulsively. They may feel shame after they complete the act, or some general feelings of depression. Actual arousal is not the primary motivator.

Responsible Gaming and Addiction

Gaming is one of those fun activities that most Ugandans find appealing. This is especially true for online gaming and online casinos. The beauty is that gaming online is safe because the regulation bit has been taken care of the National Gaming Board Uganda which is a body corporate that was established to ensure responsible gaming in Uganda.

Despite the regulation that has been put in place, it is still your responsibility as a player to ensure that you play the right way and avoid any gambling issues that may arise. Many games have gotten addicted because they probably were not advised as to how best to play. Many have found themselves borrowing money to facilitate their gaming and losing jobs all because they do not exercise any form of restraint. The truth of the matter is that for you to reap anything out of gaming, you need to be extremely disciplined.

The commonest symptom of gambling is the inability to stop irrespective of how much money has been lost. Addicts are the gamers that you will find playing day or night and who often resort to pleading tactics when told to stop. They keep requesting for more time or one more game. Addiction is mostly intensified or fuelled by the use of substances like alcohol and drugs since these remove any inhibitions that one might have.

How to avoid the addiction – The Four Pointers

  1. Have a pre-set budget: Creating a budget will give you a discipline that you need while gaming. Given that people earn different incomes, it’s essential that you do not base your budget on that of others but rather create one that fits perfectly into your income. Remember that gaming money should not take priority over bills like rent, food and tuition. It should be taken from your supplementary budget after other essential expenses have been removed. Remember to stick to your budget and not divert from it irrespective of whether you are winning or losing. If you need to reinvest, rather invest with your winnings than with money that is not budgeted for.
  2. Do not accumulate unnecessary debts: Borrowing is not a good decision when it comes to gaming. Not only will it create unnecessary anxiety but will also put a lot of strain on your finances. Remember that gaming is not a necessity so if you have no money, you would rather postpone it than enter into debts.
  3. Follow a strict set of rules: Setting your personal rules will help you have a discipline when playing. Set a time frame within which to play so as to leave room for other activities. Also essential is that you do not raise the stakes when you lose. Count all losses as such as opposed to them being a ticket for further playing. It is also essential that you follow the rules that you have set and not deviate from them.
  4. Never rely on your luck: Luck is just odds and this might not guarantee a good gaming experience for you. It is important that you understand that at certain times you will win while other times you will lose. At some point you will hit a jackpot but this does not mean that you should continue playing thinking that it is your night. It is important that you have fun while playing and not take the game too seriously. So play for playing sake and have fun while at it.

The above are just a few pointers of how to avoid gambling. However, in the event that you find yourself an addict, there is still hope for you. You might need some professional help along the way and might even need to close your accounts for a while until you get things under control.

Types of Computer Addiction

Which type of computer addiction is responsible for most computer addicts? Since there are so many different internet computer activities it is very difficult to pinpoint exactly which one is the cause of most addicts. However, there are several types which seem to be more common with computer addicts. Outlined below are what are considered to be the most addictive computer and internet related activities.

*Online games

Online games are a common cause of computer addiction. Online games consist of multi-player games via the internet . This is where the player assumes a character in the game and plays against other people from all around the world. There are many internet games on the market and some of them have millions upon millions of players worldwide. The majority of the players involved enjoy just a casual game after school, work or at weekends. A minority, however, have become so addicted, and alarmingly so, that they are spending upwards of 12 hours per day playing the game they are addicted to. Reports have come in that some people have been playing around the clock and not eating or sleeping for days and days because they do not want to leave the computer and the character they are pretending to be.

*Chat rooms

Millions of people use chat rooms daily. It is fun for those millions of people. There are lots of conventional chat rooms. There is also chat software for the larger chat companies, for instance Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger. Alas, there is again the minority who use chat rooms to feed their addiction. These people can be whomever they want to be. They may have anti social problems, they may be shy, they may have other problems that stop them from meeting people in the real world. No matter what problem the person has the chat rooms seem to be the answer. However, the real answer is the chat rooms make a person lose even more social skills in the real world. Seldom will an internet chat room addict ever get to meet the people he or she is chatting to. It would ruin the facade the addicts are putting up for their chat room colleagues. Unfortunately, this type of computer addiction can have a drastic effect on a persons’ personality and health.

*Online shopping

Online shopping addiction comes in the form of many kinds. There is the person who is addicted to buying items from the many online shops. Then there is the person who is addicted to auction type buying. Either one could put a person in debt in a matter of seconds. Just one click of the mouse could take money from their credit card and rack up enormous debts. This type of addiction usually starts with small purchases and paying with their credit card. Many small purchases of this kind then add up to many thousands of dollars. The thrill of bidding on an item in an online auction and then overbidding just to win the item (which they may not really want anyway) does cause addiction. Once the item has been bid on and won, a contract has been entered into. A very easy addiction to get into but very hard to get out once the debt has set in.

*Online gambling and online pornography

These are possibly the most damaging of all computer addictions. These millions of dollar a year businesses make their money by sucking addicts of their money. The thrill of possibly winning by gambling is very real and has never been easier since the onset of online casinos and other forms of online gambling. Serious debts have been incurred by these computer addicts. Some have even lost everything, their family, homes, possessions and even more extreme, their lives. There are organizations that specifically deal with this kind of computer addiction and they have helped many thousands of people get rid of this damaging addiction and have been able to give advice on helping to pull their lives back together again.

By no means is this list of computer addictions complete as there are many other forms of computer addiction. The ones mentioned in this article are, I believe, to be the most prevalent types of computer addiction.