Counselling and Addictions
Alcohol addiction is a slow, progressive disease that can gradually erode away all areas of life before the person recognizes the problem. By the time it is addressed, the problem may have grown into a crisis which feels impossible to resolve. Although most people who drink do not become alcoholic, at least 15% of those who do are at risk of developing a problem which affects relationships, health, work and quality of life. The illness of alcoholism is emotional, physical and psychological in nature. For the alcoholic, “One drink is too many and 1,000 never enough”. It manifests itself as an allergy of the body and an obsession of the mind.
- Continued alcohol use in spite of increasingly serious painful consequences
- Unsuccessful attempts to stop, cut down or control one's drinking
- Guilt feelings after drinking
- Alcohol related domestic problems, upsets and rows
- Taking other drugs to deal with the effects of alcohol
- Missing or avoiding work/school because of alcohol intake
- Legal/financial problems as a result of alcohol use
- Fear at the thought of life without alcohol
- Drinking alcohol for ‘Dutch’ courage, especially when meeting people
Compulsive over-eaters find tremendous comfort in food. It enables them to feel soothed and safe in a way they may never have truly experienced in their relationships with family or friends. Becoming overweight from eating large quantities of food can also be a way of coping with feelings of not being “good enough” or of not feeling wanted or useful. Often food is the first thought in the morning and the last thought at night, with no respite during the day. The obsession with having, hoarding or protecting their supply of food is equally as chronic as any other person addicted to hard drugs or alcohol.
Eating disorders can have painful and disruptive consequences on both the sufferer and the lives of their loved ones.
For the anorexia sufferer, feelings of hunger and deprivation help to fill an emotional void. Different foods become “feared” or “trusted” to different degrees, and a fixation with nutrition and calorie values rules what to eat and what to avoid. Controlling the intake of food becomes paramount, and this impulse to control reflects a deep emotional need on the part of the sufferer to control all feelings.
- Restricting certain foods or drastically reducing how much you eat
- Pretending to eat or lying about what you have eaten
- The regular use of laxatives
- Frequent weigh-ins (per day) and over-attention to tiny fluctuations in weight
- A compulsion to check in the mirror for body flaws/complaints about being fat
- Excessive and/or compulsive exercising
- Apathy, moodiness, low energy and withdrawal from social life
- Feeling cold all the time
- Dry, lifeless hair, brittle nails or poor skin tone
- In women, missing three consecutive menstrual periods
Those who suffer from bulimia often eat large quantities of food in a relatively short period of time, then will take laxatives or make themselves vomit to prevent gaining weight. Excessive eating triggers feelings that are powerful, overwhelming and shameful. The cycle of bingeing and purging helps to control these feelings, and also avoids the anger and guilt that are buried at the heart of the eating disorder.
- Poor body image
- Low moods and feelings of depression
- Eating unusually large amounts of food with no apparent change in weight
- Craving binge foods (especially sugar and white flour products)
- Purging (vomiting or throwing up)
- Losing weight through laxatives and slimming pills
- An excessive, rigid exercise regimen
- Tooth and mouth problems
- In women, irregular or nonexistent menstrual periods
For discreet, non-judgemental help from a counsellor experienced in working with issues ranging from restricting food to purging and over-eating, please contact me now.
Sexual addiction is often an attempt to act out deep-seated anger and pain through the realm of the sexual or the erotic. “Acting out” keeps the sufferer safe from the fear of a partner rejecting or being angry towards them if their hidden feelings of shame, guilt and rage were to be expressed. Addiction to sex is avoidance of true intimacy, and from sharing feelings of loneliness and vulnerability that feel crushing and overwhelming.
- A preoccupation with looking at adult material on the internet, or on DVD
- Feeling disgusted and guilty after engaging in this behaviour
- Throwing away then later retrieving magazines/DVDs of a sexual nature
- Promising your partner that this behaviour is under control and that you'll never do it again, but finding that you do
- Spending money on other men or women to seduce them, or to get them to spend time with you
- Worrying about the health risks involved in sexually acting out
- Feeling bored, lonely, depressed or continually anxious until you act out your behaviour
Addiction to gambling begins with the thrill of risk-taking and the adrenaline rush that comes with each “win”. That rush pushes aside buried feelings of guilt and low self-worth and replaces them with money or products, in an attempt to fill the real emptiness inside. But the pain remains: no matter how much is won the void is never filled, and the gambler’s sense of self-worth and identity become increasingly wrapped up in “winning”.
- A preoccupation with gambling
- Lying with ease to family members to conceal the extent of your gambling
- Placing your family, home or marriage at risk through continued gambling
- Stealing or fraudulently acquiring money to continue your habit
- Returning to gambling in order to get even, even after losing money
- Relying on others to bail you out from your financial difficulties, promising that you will never gamble again
- Restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop gambling
- Using gambling as a way of switching off, or of dreaming about a better or different future
If you are experiencing some of the above you may want to some help. With professional skills that encompass all aspects of addiction, I offer appropriate support which is sensitive and confidential, where each individual can recognise the truth about his/her illness and begin a program of recovery and abstinence.
Contact me for further information