Mental Health

Understanding your Addictions – Part 1


For the longest time people have been indulging in substance abuse, be it smoking, alcohol, tobacco or wild herbs like weed to get high or to feel better. We need to understand that decrease in anxiety or stress levels achieved by using above mentioned stuff is for a very short time, You need another fix very soon if you are not working towards eliminating the root cause. There is a high and then there is low and then a high, so you get caught up in the vicious cycle leading to addiction which further leads to various disorders like hypertension, cardiac abnormalities, cancer, diabetes, weight gain and many more.

In my carrier, doing consultations every day, the commonalities I have observed amongst people with these issues are stress, anxiety and unresolved emotional issues. These people find solace in these substances because their chemicals alter the brain signaling giving them a false escape from the current situation.

Chronic stress, anxiety, not letting go off negative thoughts and poisonous people increases your cortisol levels creating hormonal imbalance and leading to cravings. We need to understand that quick fixes are not going to help on a long run. We need to identify the root cause and work towards eliminating it.

Few of the reasons which lead to such addictions are mentioned below:

  • Peer Pressure – Just because your friends are doing it and its trendy, should not force you to start drinking or smoking. You may notice losing many friends and social groups if you decide not to indulge in these things, but also know that these are the kind of people worth moving away from. Friends who expect you to be a certain way so that you can “fit in” are not the right kind of group you want to be in. Fear of missing out can be stressful but that should not be the reason for you to compromise on health.
  • Filling the void – Most people live in denials. They are unable to accept the fact that they are having a bad day or a bad event has occurred. They are unable to accept and go through an unpleasant emotion that results out of it and hence resort to external aids to numb these feelings. If you are having a bad day, go through it.  Feel the downs. When you numb sadness through addictions, you also numb feelings of true happiness and joy.Using quick fix to balance out the emotion rather than actually dealing with the situation is incorrect. You need to understand that finding a solution is the key and not procrastination.
  • Lacking will power – This is one of the most common reasons why people give in to the addictions even after deciding to give it up.
  • As a coping mechanism – Excess work load or unhealthy relationships or too many responsibilities lead to high levels or stress and anxiety. In order to fight the situation we get into addictions like smoking or alcohol or drinking a can of coke to get the caffeine high. But remember this is a momentary high and soon you will have a low which will make you do it again and this is how the one time solution becomes a compulsion.
  • Status symbol – Addictions are a status symbol for the modern society. If you want to be accepted in the group, you should also drink or gamble or smoke a cigar. If you are not doing it, you are not treated well which leads to low self esteem. And just to get accepted in that group of people, you start compromising on your health by indulging into these addictions.
  • Low self esteem – Confidence in one’s ability decides his or her self esteem. People with low self esteem have difficulty overcoming negative thoughts and converting them into positive ones. This in turn makes them vulnerable to the outside environment. If you have a low self esteem, you feel everything is impossible for you; there is no motivation or energy. This leads to a destructive behavior and most commonly to addiction.

You need to understand that your health comes first. Quick fixes are short lived, what works is a lifestyle change. Just because everyone is doing it does not mean you should too. Take a decision keeping your health and family in mind because your decision affects the people around you too. The only thing you need is Vitamin D – Determination. Once you decide in your mind, nothing can stop you from achieving your goal. We will be discussing the ways to manage these addictions in our next part, so stay tuned.


Luke Coutinho

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