Addiction is a disorder which causes malfunction of the brain’s reward circuits.

Up to 60% of addiction sufferers have probably inherited the disorder genetically (National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2010). Other people may have damaged their reward system by overusing it. Consequently, people with this disorder seek to reinforce their blunted reward/pleasure receptors by using substances or processes which will increase pleasurable feelings.

Once this happens to someone with a genetic susceptibility to the disorder, there will be knock on effects or chemical cascades, to other parts of the brain affecting things like judgement and impulse control. This is why ‘addicts’ or alcoholics cannot control their using. Addiction is a chronic condition (American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2011)
which means that it lingers, and symptoms will return if it is not treated

Types of addiction

Addiction does not just involve chemical dependency (dependence on substances). A modern understanding of addiction is that it encompasses a range of highly stimulating behaviours which are potentially addictive. We refer to these as ‘process’ addictions. Process addictions include; gambling, compulsive sexuality, compulsive overeating and many more.

The Cabin utilises an ‘all addictions’ model which means we see both substance and process addictions as part of the same disorder. This is backed by recent research into the neurobiology of addiction by medical bodies like ASAM and NIDA. So, if you are suffering from a gambling disorder or addictive process other than substance addiction, and the consequences of those behaviours are serious, then you may need treatment. Treatment for these disorders follows the same lines as treatment for chemical addictions.

Medical treatment

People suffering severe substance use disorders are advised to always seek medical advice as close medical supervision is vital to a safe detox. However, for people with less severe addiction issues, medical treatment may feature less in their overall treatment or may be unnecessary. On staff at The Cabin Resident is a psychiatrist who can assist with detoxes should the client’s treatment require it.

Psychological treatment

Psychological and social aspects of addiction can be effectively treated using recognised and evidence based counselling models:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – focuses on increasing psychological health by learning to dispute what are known as ‘thinking errors’ or irrational ways we perceive and make meaning out of situations. Thinking errors are a main cause of the dysfunctional emotional states which are symptomatic of addiction (ASAM 2011)
  • 12 Step Fellowships – 12 Step fellowships focus on treating the social/psychological aspects of addiction via ‘fellowship’ meetings which are peer run support groups where members use a common lexicon of recovery and learn to ‘identify’ with other people recovering from addiction.
  • Meditation/Relaxation Techniques – There are many techniques of meditation which concentrate on building the brains ability to focus and concentrate, producing a more balanced brain chemistry which is necessary for recovery from addiction. You can even expand the idea of meditation to include physical activities which increase feelings of wellbeing, such as yoga.

In any intensive addiction treatment setting this work is done using one to one therapy between you and a counsellor, and also in group therapy, where peers can gently challenge or ‘dispute’ each other’s thinking patterns and learn off each other in a mutually supportive environment.