The 4 Stages of Addiction

According to the dictionary addiction means:-

1. Being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit forming (especially alcohol and narcotic drugs).

2. An abnormally strong craving.

3. (Roman Law) a formal award by a court sentence of a thing or person to another (as of a debtor to his creditor), a surrender to a master; “under Roman law, addiction was the justification for slavery”.

The Chinese have a saying about heroin ‘You begin chasing the dragon but then it jumps on your back and begins chasing you’. Jackie Pullinger, the British woman who set up a ministry in Hong Kong t, wrote a book about her experiences there in ‘Chasing the Dragon’.

This expression relates to smoking heroin, but it could be applied for all mood altering drugs, alcohol, painkillers, tranquillisers, speed, solvents, LSD, cocaine, heroin, crack, ecstasy, barbiturates, and cannabis. It can apply to adrenalin based addictions like gambling, sex, shopping, people (co-dependency) and eating disorders.

Addiction doesn’t just happen. There is a progression towards chemical dependency, or any other addiction. It passes through four main stages.

1. Experimental Stage of Addiction

The Experimental Stage could happen out of curiosity or peer pressure. The user may say “I’ll just try it I don’t have to use it again” The user may experience pleasure or mood swings. The outcome may be intoxication or being stoned, or a ‘rush’ of some sort. Many who experiment with drugs do not progress to the next stage of addiction.

This may start in early teens (sometimes younger) with trying alcohol, cigarettes or cannabis. It is easy to get high because of the body’s low tolerance. Often done with their peers away from a parent or guardian. It may be seen as acting grown up, or a simple act of rebellion.

2. The Recreational Stage of Addiction

During the recreational stage the user may use at the weekends with friends, just to unwind from a stressful week. Looking for relief. Tolerance increases and more substances may be used, amphetamines (speed), larger quantities of alcohol. Symptoms may include stopping out late, suffering hangovers.

The user is by now starting to plan for use. Waiting for the weekend to be with friends, but also risk taking may increase by smoking on the way to school. Starting to lie about how much, and what is being used. Parents may react at this stage by grounding their child.

3. The Early Dependency Stage

During this stage, the regular user becomes an abuser. Now maintaining an addictive lifestyle that starts to affect others. The young user may be missing school and stealing money to feed the habit. Older users may be struggling to keep their job and running up debts. There is a daily preoccupation to source drugs and this often leads to meeting dealers.

4. The Full Dependency Stage

During this stage of addiction, there is a self destructive and compulsive desire to escape to oblivion, or escape from reality. Sobriety is too difficult to face. If left untreated, the addict may now face despair and risks premature death through overdose, suicide, accidents or side effects. Many end up with legal problems, imprisonment and family breakdown.

Addiction causes two main problems, a chemical (or an adrenalin) dependency problem, and a lifestyle problem. These are explored within the framework of other articles. Has addiction faced you or your family?

Are Your Financial Problems Emotion Based?

Emotions rule human beings. Mr. Spock would call us all illogical for giving in to excitement, depression, and anger. He would be right in many cases, especially in the financial arena. Many people respond to their emotional state in some financial way. How many people do you know that own budgeting apps or have seen a financial planner, but still can not seem to get on top of their financial lives? It is very possible that their emotions have become their worst financial enemy.

Money problems can range from minor to major. Whatever their severity, these hang-ups cannot be reversed by studying up on finance or investment strategies. Many financial planners are beginning to team up with counselors, psychologists, or life coaches. This ”holistic” approach came about after many planners found themselves spending at least a quarter of their time talking to clients about issues like spirituality, death, family dysfunction, illness, divorce and depression.

Everyone is is ruled by money beliefs that are formed during their childhood. It is in some ways like following a script that we are unaware of. These ”money scripts” dominate our financial lives just as a movie script controls an actor’s actions. Some of these scripts are accurate and fact based, some are pure fantasy according to Brad Klontz, a clinical psychologist, certified financial planner, and a key player in the field of financial therapy. Many of those scripts are hybrids of truth or become twisted over the years. One example would be ”You should work hard for your money” can become ”Money not earned is not worth having.” The twisted version can have disastrous results when you avoid investing because you do not feel you deserve the ”unearned” capital gains. ”Everyone has money scripts worth examining,” says Klontz, ”but not everyone has a gambling or compulsive-buying disorder.” Klontz also points out that money scripts fall into four general categories.

Money avoidance is based on scripts like ”money corrupts.” It can manifest itself in extreme overspending or excessive risk avoidance. At its worst, it can force you to become a financial enabler for others.

Money worship is based on a script that reads along the lines of ”you can never have enough money.” This way of thinking usually creates workaholics, massive credit card debt, compulsive spending, hoarding, or extreme risk-taking.

A money status script simply equates money with self-worth and contentment. This can lead to spending beyond your means to appear more affluent or hiding financial information from your spouse or partner. In the extreme, this script can lead you to the highest risk investments or a compulsive gambling habit.

Some think that the most insidious money script is money vigilance. The reason is that at a normal level, money vigilance is expounded by everyone. Save money, invest wisely, etc. The problem is when the script becomes too rigid. So rigid, in fact, that you ca not enjoy the fruits of your labor. For example, this script is a problem for someone who has saved their whole life, hits $2 million in the bank, and will not retire or even take a vacation.

Solving these money issues is not a simple thing, even with professional help. There are several steps along the way. The first is as simple as recognizing a problematic financial belief or behavior. One way to become more aware of emotional spending is to keep a journal. Write down each purchase followed by the thoughts surrounding that purchase. The same applies when you are considering the purchase of a car, home, or making an investment. Over time, your money scripts will make themselves apparent, if you put down your feelings honestly. Once you’re aware of the patterns, you can work on changing them. The writing process could also serve as a barrier between the emotion and the purchase. Like when you have a bad day or feel depressed, writing the feelings down before you buy could actually prevent the purchase and offer a safer release for your feelings.

Once you have recognized the scripts within your financial behavior you can begin to edit and remove them. This process can be more harrowing than you expect. You may need assistance. Look for a financial planner who also has counseling credentials or simply look for a therapeutic setting that will help you address any childhood traumas that helped form your scripts. The eventual outcome is to form a new money script – one that helps you make decisions that allow you to enjoy your life.

The Addictive Personality, Part One

How do you envision someone with an addictive personality? Do you picture an alcoholic, someone strung out on drugs, a chain smoker, or a gambler down on his luck?

Addictive behaviors are commonly thought of as behaviors that impair a person’s ability to function. Often they do but not all addictive behaviors have that effect. Some addictive behaviors do not negatively influence or impact the person’s life.

Many people are unaware that they even have the tendency because their behavior doesn’t fit the image they have in their mind of those who do. Someone with an addictive personality can turn a positive activity, such as exercising, into an obsession. As one mental health expert put it, healthy people plan exercise around their life. Addicts plan their life around exercise.

Those with addictive personalities have urges other people don’t have that can impede their ability to make good decisions. They have the tendency to do things that are fine in moderation, things that those without addictive personalities do with no problem, and become addicted to them. They are prone to becoming dependent on substances, activities, and other people-just about anything. And they are especially at high at risk of becoming addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, food, pornography, exercise, work, and codependency.

It is theorized that 15% of American people have a predisposition to addiction. Doctors and clinicians still debate whether or not the addictive personality exists. The National Institute on Drug Abuse calls it a brain disease. Though addictive personality has not been classified as a personality disorder by the American Psychological Association, there are common traits that those with the tendency have-certain characteristics that make them more susceptible to physical or psychological dependencies that may negatively impact their quality of life. Not everyone demonstrating these characteristic will develop an addiction.

A common characteristic of the addictive personality is poor stress management skills. Without the benefit of healthy coping skills they are prone to using substances, activities, or other people as a way to manage their emotional discomfort and alleviate stress. They have the tendency to self-medicate, believing they are only using it symptomatically, but in fact are using it as a way to cope with life. Some have social anxiety or have trouble letting their guard down. Substances help them let go and have fun.

Many with addictive personalities suffer from insecurity or are excessive approval seekers. They may use substances such as drugs and alcohol to provide a temporary sense of worth, a pseudo-identity. Though they are aware that the sense of worth achieved that way is false, they like the way it feels and crave it more and more. They may turn to addictive substances in order to deal with insecurity, or they may ultimately feel powerless to stop an addiction once it starts.

Another marker of the addictive personality is the lack of ability to get in touch with feelings. The feelings are there but they may be too painful to look at. Feeling makes them feel vulnerable and out of control. This causes someone to focus outward, searching for anything that makes them feel good inside and comforts them.

Those with addictive personalities often have the need for instant gratification. They crave the quick, powerful feeling that makes them feel good in ways nothing else can. The euphoric feeling is short-lived so they are constantly seeking more. This sometimes occurs with those who have obsessive or compulsive personalities, and those who are perfectionists.

The inability to form emotional attachments with other people is another characteristic of those with addictive personalities. Many of these people are unable to make relationship commitments. Some alienate themselves from others believing that trusting relationships are unattainable. Some have brief, superficial relationships filled with emotional turmoil, and often with those who also have addictive personalities or are abusive. Substances such as drugs or alcohol become substitutes for the bond they lack with others.

Breaking the Chains of Boredom

It is not a pretty state to endure the unpleasant feeling of lethargy and apathy. Unfortunately everyone occasionally lapses into such a mind frame. I am sure you have had this kind of experience as described by the experts at “Wandering into the kitchen, starting to do the dishes, leaving them… flicking through the TV channels without finding anything engaging, sighing, thinking about what to do, then discounting everything that pops into your mind because you don’t feel like it and flopping onto the couch.”

If this kind of feeling is becoming a common occurrence for you then you need to do something about it because the same website cited above reports that “boredom-prone people tend to feature highly in statistics for serious mental health problems: depression, anxiety, drug addiction, alcoholism, compulsive gambling, eating disorders, as well as showing more hostility, anger, and poor social skills… “

How could you get out of this state of mind and shift into an energetic enthusiastic rhythm? Here’s are 3 effective ways:

1. Get yourself started into some form of physical activity. At the very least get of that couch or bed and take a walk. Researchers have concluded that walking improves your level enthusiasm; to quote from a New York Times article “strolls can perceptibly – and immediately – buoy people’s moods.” One other physical shift you can do is to take a shower and dress up a bit; adding a little perfume would not hurt either. Proper dressing infuses greater self-confidence and acts as a tonic on your mind. If you need proof of this, look at two ladies one dressed nice and the other in sloppy attire, the difference in attitude is telling.

2. Get your mind a little more active by engaging someone with greater enthusiasm into a conversation that is upbeat. This is useful because enthusiasm is contagious. Do some light reading; humorous writings could get you some laughter and laughter can energize you further.

3. On the spiritual realm, states of mind that cut your energy levels can only be associated with the devil and not the positive higher spirits. In a bored state of mind, you can hardly be optimistic; since we live here with the promise that the Most Gracious is in full control and shall provide for us, it is better and more natural to be enthusiastic for once you are on that wavelength you tend to have more hope and you see opportunities rather than depressing problems around you. So a little earnest prayer should be in order when you are not feeling up and bright. Pray for positive energy to be able to worship God for in truth, if you are optimistic, upbeat, thinking and acting right, then this could constitute worship. After all etymologists have traced the root of the word enthusiasm to the word “spirit”.

Having discussed the above three points that can positively charge your mood and break the chains of boredom. Let us add a bonus point. If you want to break free from your own boredom, go out there and make another person’s life a bit more exciting. Make an effort despite your lethargic mood, to make another person’s day a little brighter. Since charity begins at home, I suggest you take your child out to the playground, or take your spouse out to some place that he or she finds exciting. Make a small sack for a friend or family member.

I can assure you that if you make this effort sincerely, by the time your action takes effect on the person you are reaching out to, your own mind will catch a blissful fire that will melt the chains of your own boredom and charge you with positive uplifting feelings. Whatever you give out (good or bad) you get back multiplied. As the Wolof saying goes “linga johe nga morm” (what you give out is what you own). The scripture is right; “as you sow so shall you reap.” Take that positive step now and sow some seeds of enthusiastic energy. You shall reap the fruits of positive exciting moods for a life more upbeat and rewarding.