Special

How Do I Approach the Problem of Addiction?

By Dr Sr Judith Lewis UFS
Sr Dr Judy Lewis UFS, Sampoorna Counselling Centre, St Ursula Convent, Bolar, has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and Counselling from St Thomas University, Manila, Philippines. She is presently working as counsellor and animator in Mangaluru, Udupi and Bengaluru. You can reach her at Judylewis77@gmail.com.
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March 15, 2019

As human beings we are so fragile, that we yield many a times to our own weaknesses without even being fully aware that we are drifting away towards perdition. Addiction is such a chronic disease which can overtake any one if life is lived without reflection and without proper discipline. Why people get into addition? What are its causes? How can we help them to come out of it? How can we understand them? How can we deal with them? These are the question raised invariably by the one who is confronted with a situation where s/he has to deal with an addict.

Whatever depth of sympathy and compassion you may posses by the grace of God, the question of dealing with an addict is not so simple. There may be many factors which lead one to addiction and one can give thousand reasons which led him towards it, but ultimately the addict himself is responsible for his plight as he has ignored or neglected the responsibility of handling his own situation in a right manner. It all depends how you look at your own life. If you have a ‘why’ to live for, you will never take short cuts. Addiction is a case of irresponsibility, may be a short cut to self defence but definitely a sign of lack of will power.

Having said that, my thoughts go to the family members of the addict whenever I encounter an addict, especially when I go to addiction centres. Dealing with them with concern and care is a challenge as this sickness makes them subservient to chemical dependence leading to consequences which are antisocial such as habit of saying lies, stealing and even hurting others, and in rare cases even to destroy oneself. Most of the time we wonder why people become addicts, but actually we should start asking more meaningful questions. How can we stop them? How to understand them? How do we keep the stuff out of their little hands and away from their innocent minds? This is our duty as citizens of a single humanity towards those who become vulnerable to addition. We can affirm that people in general are magnificent; they are dynamic, open, creative, brave and curious; but the addiction just intoxicates them and impel them to behave variedly. In such cases, only family support can make a difference in the addicted person’s recovery.

Let me illustrate one of the cases that came to me for counselling: it was a newly married couple, the boy unfortunately was addicted to drugs at the early stage and the fact was kept secret till he got married. But to his luck, the wife and family members took intense care and interest in him. With their support he was overcoming from his chronic disease through medicine as well as counselling. This shows that family support for such people is very much essential.

Addiction is a multifaceted complex issue. There are several factors that contribute towards the development of addiction. There could be different reasons why a person gets into addiction. Being a psychologist I can say that people who are suffering from anxiety, bipolar disorder, low self-esteem, acute loneliness and depression lead one towards addiction - may be to drugs, alcohol or to pornography - to alleviate their distress. The influence of friends and peer-groups who are already addicted tempt some to become one like them. Some others become bored in life, and yet others possess poor coping skills for dealing with stress related to job, marital issues, divorces, frequent nagging from married partner, extra-marital affairs, family problems, financial problems etc., which makes them think negatively and surrender to addiction. There are also exceptional cases, like childhood traumatic events which might naturally lead to addiction as a last option to carry on covering up painful past memories.

Let me explicate three very common addictions around us. The first one is pornography. Porn addiction is a behavioural addiction just like any other substances or “things” that people can become addicted to and are unable to stop their strong drive towards it. Addiction to pornography is a compulsive sexual activity with concurrent use of pornographic material in spite of being aware of negative consequences to one's own physical, mental, social or financial well-being. This results in the negative impact on depression, social isolation, career loss, decreased productivity accompanied with financial problems.

The second addiction is alcoholism which is a chronic behavioural and devastating disease of the mind and body caused by a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. Those who cross the limit of alcohol intake are unable to control their behaviour, besides they become a source of problem for themselves, to their families and also to society. Most of my clients said they have started to drink because they were unhappy and thought that life holds no joys for them. Some drink because their job has completely exhausted them and there are rare cases referred to by people as 'born drunkards', whose neurological heritage is such that they are unable to face reality of life, so they want to alleviate themselves from the desperate effort to face the real world; no wonder these unhappy persons become hapless alcoholics. Hence excessive drinking can be attributed to multiple causes such as social, physiological, psychological and biological deficiencies.

The third common addiction we can refer to is that of addiction to drugs. A drug habit may start very innocently to anybody. Drug addiction is one of the major psycho-social problems. We are well aware that drugs are only temporary escape and transitory relief to the woes of life. One should know that no matter what situation s/he is trying to escape, it will still exist after the drug has worn off. Most people take drugs to escape from fears: of failing in school or being unpopular with their friends; there are some youth who take to drugs as they cannot live up to the expectations of parents, some others feel bored in life so on and so forth. Thus people use drugs for many reasons as they do think that drugs make them feel better, so they become victims of drugs. It is an irresponsible response to life situation, because people are very well aware of consequences of addiction, yet they get hooked to addiction. We have one life to move on in this world, but nevertheless, we have choices to make for a better life.

Even after one becomes an addict, there are possibilities to recover and restart life once again. The friends and family members should go after such lost sheep, and encourage them to return. What is needed is only the will-power to change on the part of the addict. There are number of treatments and psychological helps available to treat addicts: the Individual Counselling, family therapies, addiction counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy, group therapy, drug therapies and the like. The addicts can always avail themselves of these helps and heal themselves in order to live their lives fully. ‘All things are possible’, says the scripture, ‘for those who believe’.

From the archives

Comment on this article

  • Thomas, Dubai

    Thu, Mar 21 2019

    Dear sister Judy you are great wonderful counsellor. Your commitment and dedication is appreciated by many people. Keep up the good work that you give to students, family's, children. God bless you.

    Agree [4]

  • Norbert Andrade, Kemmannu/Dubai

    Thu, Mar 21 2019

    Very good article nicely written about the Never ending social and public health malady. Keep it up sister. May God bless you

    Agree [5]

  • Glenn Vaz, Thottam

    Thu, Mar 21 2019

    Very nice and thought provoking article. Keep up the good work Sr. Judy. Best Wishes

    Agree [5]

  • Joswin, Mumbai

    Thu, Mar 21 2019

    Very good article.

    Agree [5]

  • Sunita, USA

    Thu, Mar 21 2019

    Congrats sister very good article.

    Agree [5]

  • John, Abudabi

    Thu, Mar 21 2019

    Dear sister. You are great person. I am happy to meet you and get counseling help. Please do countune good work for the society. Counseling is great help. May good God bless your professional help.

    Agree [5]

  • Jeevan mario, Mangalore city

    Thu, Mar 21 2019

    Dear Sister,
    Thanks for giving very good information and awareness to the public about addiction. Well appreciated
    But we have in our city,
    Alcoholic Anonymous
    Narcotic Anonymous
    Kindly inform your clients and suffering addicts to attend meetings which will help them in thier recovery.
    For more details u can suggest to visit our help centre at YMCA premises , located at Falnir, Mangaluru

    Agree [5]

  • Celine dsa, Udupi mumbai

    Wed, Mar 20 2019

    V. good article sr. Judy. Keep writing.

    Agree [7]

  • Priyanka Dsouza, Pangla/ Muscat

    Tue, Mar 19 2019

    Very informative article Sr Judy.
    Thank you for explaining the concept " addiction"in detail.

    Agree [10]

  • Jults, Mangalore.

    Tue, Mar 19 2019

    Very good article on addiction .

    Agree [9]

  • Ramesh, USA

    Tue, Mar 19 2019

    Very informative and enlightening article dear Sr Judy. May many more such articles. .

    Agree [11]

  • Celine dsa, Udupi mumbai

    Mon, Mar 18 2019

    V. good article sr. Judy. Keep writing.

    Agree [12]

  • Saritha, Bangalore/Mangalore

    Mon, Mar 18 2019

    The article is well written. God bless you.

    Agree [14]

  • Naveen, UK.

    Mon, Mar 18 2019

    Very nice article, keep writing, all the best.God bless you

    Agree [13]

  • Naveen, UK.

    Mon, Mar 18 2019

    Very nice article, keep writing, all the best.God bless you

    Agree [12]

  • Celine dsa, Udupi mumbai

    Sun, Mar 17 2019

    Very good article sr. Judy. Keep writing.

    Agree [16]

  • Peter, Mumbai

    Sun, Mar 17 2019

    Nicely written

    Agree [17]

  • Wilfred, Kuwait

    Sun, Mar 17 2019

    It is an excellent article, relevent for the day today life.

    Agree [17]

  • Rev. Fr. Prakash Cutinha, Parish priest, St. Michael's Church , Melbourne.

    Sun, Mar 17 2019

    Sr. Judy, Great Article with valuable information. Keep going. Hope to have more articles from you.

    Agree [15]

  • Dan M, Dubai / Mangalore

    Sun, Mar 17 2019

    For addictions, Two Beautiful Prayers are available on the net to my christian friends and others who believe and for those who are in need, are Crusade Prayer 45 and 46; Prayer to Conquer Negative Thoughts and Free me from the Chains of Satan respectively.

    Agree [17]

  • Daiana, USA

    Sat, Mar 16 2019

    Dear sister timely Article . Well explained . Keep writing

    Agree [17]

  • Goodwins, USA

    Sat, Mar 16 2019

    One of the best methods to overcome a pornography addiction is from the book Power Over Pornography. It relies upon cognitive behavior therapy, which has higher success rates than other programs. It is also easier to follow. I highly recommend it.

    Agree [17]

  • Dan M, Dubai / Mangalore

    Sat, Mar 16 2019

    One suggestion is that addicted persons should be advised to have a thought of loving the addictions in their mind instead of hating them to overcome them. I love addictions mean I surrender them to God, as the scripture says God is love. With such a thought over the time one can overcome them. Naturally if you allow God to take control your addictions you can overcome them as the scripture says nothing is impossible to God.

    Agree [17]

  • Regi, Thottam/Kuwait

    Sat, Mar 16 2019

    Congratulations Sr. Judy. Very informative article .

    Agree [18]

  • Veera, Mumbai

    Sat, Mar 16 2019

    My dear Sr. Judy, Congratulations! Well written article, very informative .

    Agree [18]

  • Arun, Mangalore/Isral

    Sat, Mar 16 2019

    Congratulations to you for the inspiring and thought provoking article.

    Agree [18]

  • Wilma, Mumbai

    Sat, Mar 16 2019

    Nice Article. Keep writing.

    Agree [18]

  • Steeven, Kuwait

    Sat, Mar 16 2019

    Really a nice informative article. Congratulations Sr. Judy.

    Agree [16]

  • Ravi, Dubai/Bangalore

    Sat, Mar 16 2019

    good one.Congratulations Sr. Judy.
    keep writing

    Agree [16]

  • Praveen. A, Dubai/Bangalore

    Sat, Mar 16 2019

    We need to be aware about these.

    Agree [14]

  • Jason, Udupi

    Sat, Mar 16 2019

    Congratulations Sr. Judy.
    The article is well written.

    Agree [15]

  • Vincie Rodrigues, Thottam / Canada

    Sat, Mar 16 2019

    Excellent peek at the challenges of addiction at personal, social and cultural levels! It’s certainly an unfathomable Issue unfortunately spreading like wildfire right under our nose so to speak!!

    How about the other additions Sr. Judy? Addiction to internet, cellphone texting related communications, social media and its various forms!!

    We have lost touch of simple living, simple lives, care for self and respect for self and community we live in starting with our own family. Seeking easy and short term gratification has become our modern norm because of what is called peer pressure. How many of us able to live deciplined God fearing life because that’s not modern living or fashionable living. I do not think we all can agree to have family meal, family Rosary, Family Time share about ourselves with each other?

    It’s easy to get addicted since it so easy to pursue happiness it provides and systematically enslaves its victims. Rehabilitations and treatment centres are either unavailable or sometimes unaffordable whereas addictive tools are in abundance freely available and shamelessly sponsored by lords of this world in all its glamour and power.

    Keep up the good job Sr. Judy! God Bless You .

    Agree [15]

  • Arun D'Souza, Mangalore

    Fri, Mar 15 2019

    Congratulations Sr.Judith,
    Very nice and helpful article ,

    Agree [14]

  • Fr Vincent D Souza Capuchin, Vimukti, Banakal

    Fri, Mar 15 2019

    The number of addicts is increasing in the society. Due to modern development and lifestyle a large number of people succumb to these addictions. We need to be aware about these. So a lot of awareness is created in and through this article. It's a well written article.

    Agree [17]

  • Fr Vincent D Souza, Banakal

    Fri, Mar 15 2019

    Very nice and thought provoking article. Congratulations dear Sr Judy.

    Agree [16]

  • John Fernandes, Mangalore

    Fri, Mar 15 2019

    Congratulations Sr. Judy.
    The article is well written.
    Besides pornography, alcohol and drugs, the modern generation is addicted to many other things, such as, electric and electronic gudgets, friendships, power and position, etc.
    What advice will you give to the present day generation and help them out.

    Agree [20]

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