An addiction is any behaviour which a person believes compels them to keep doing or consuming something over and over again with no apparent ability to control that behaviour.
In this sense almost any behaviour that is frequently repeated over which the person believes they have no control, could be described as an addiction.
For example, many people believe that they are addicted to chocolate.
However, chocolate does not contain any chemical constituents which might be considered to create a ‘chemical hook’ leading to the consumer having NO choice but to keep eating the chocolate.
Unless, that is, one considers sugar to be an addictive chemical.
How is Addiction Defined?
“The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming to such an extent that its cessation causes (apparent) severe trauma.”
Is Addiction Bio-Medical or Psycho-Social?
The above definition would seem to suggest that some things (substances or practices) might be ‘physically habit forming’, but most of us would not consider a ‘habit’ something that we had no control over!
It might be more useful to ask:
Is addiction caused by the substance having addictive qualities? (This is the bio-medical addiction model).
Is addiction a personal behaviour? (This is the psycho-social addiction model).
Ask a person who has tried to quit smoking or drinking without success whether they believe that they are addicted and you are likely to get the response; ‘definitely!’
However, if you ask the same question to a person who successfully quit smoking because they believed that smoking was just a ‘habit’, then they will almost certainly disagree with the Addiction ‘model’.
How is it possible that one person was ‘addicted’ but the other person had a ‘habit’?
Surely, if the physical model of addiction is valid it should always be valid, not just sometimes.
So if alcohol is addictive, why doesn’t everyone who drinks alcohol become addicted?
If addiction is an individual, psychological trait, then the physical model of addiction cannot be valid!
The Medicalisation of Habits
Medicalisation is the process of explaining human behaviours as being due to body chemistry independently of factors such as social context, individual choice or motivation.
Although it may, on the face of it, appear to be based on sound scientific principals, this is not the case.
In fact, many examples of medicalisation are based on economic, political or power-based criteria which are often far from scientific.
This is certainly true of addiction in which the behaviour of people is explained by the interaction of chemical processes inside the human body with the molecular structure of chemicals that are ingested – this means anything by the way as everything we eat, drink or consume is a chemical of come sort, including water (H2O)!
The problem with explaining addiction in these terms is that they take ZERO account of the situations in which people exist and live their lives.
They also fail, miserably, to explain why 99% of people who consume the addictive substances known generically as ‘alcohol’ (and who share the same body chemistry as those described as ‘alcoholics’) do not experience the chemical interaction model and become addicted.
Unfortunately, these gaping holes in the logic purported to be ‘good science’ have not deterred the medical community from adding more and more behaviours to the list of ‘addiction problems’.
Please be aware that we are NOT saying that people don’t develop destructive relationships with substances, they most certainly do and in the most severe cases end up paying the ultimate price, but telling people that they had no choice but to become addicted because of the ‘addictive nature’ of what they ingested, argues that deciding to make a better or different choice will be insufficient to solve the problem (because choice plays no role in why people become or overcome addiction).
More Behaviours Described as Addictions
As mentioned above, more and more behaviours are being added to the list of addictions on an almost daily basis, including;
- Spending too much time on the internet – Internet Addiction.
- Eating too much chocolate – Sugar Addiction.
- Having too much sex – Sex Addiction.
- Gambling too much – Gambling Addiction.
- Drinking too much coffee – Caffeine Addiction.
- Eating too much food – Food Addiction.
- Working too much – Workaholic.
You’ll notice that all of these ‘addictions’ contain the descriptor “too much” which sounds rather like a judgement based on somebody’s opinion rather than being particularly scientific, and highlights the problem with the bio-medical model of addiction – TOO MUCH according to who?
Overcome Your Addiction Problem with Psychosocial Counselling
Psychological therapies, particularly those that take into account the life history and social context in which the problem developed (psychosocial counselling), have an excellent track record in helping people to make sense of and modify their behaviours.
The CORE Programme
The CORE Programme was devised and written by Paul in 2020 and combines all the best elements of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with additional knowledge drawn from research in Personal Construct Theory, Attribution Theory, Self-Determination Theory and Social Constructivism.
By understanding your addiction problem from a psychosocial perspective and developing a greater level of agency, you will be able to make better and more informed choices.
It is a 10 module course normally taken over a 10 week period with weekly hour long counselling sessions (either face-to-face or using Zoom), but can also be followed as a ‘teach yourself’ course for those with more manageable problems.
Ready to Begin a New Journey?
If you’d like to find out more about overcoming or recovering from your emotional distress or mental health difficulties then why not arrange a free initial consultation with us.
During this consultation we will discuss your particular problems and the potential solutions in a safe and confidential environment without you having to commit to any counselling programmes or sessions going forward.
It is our view that not only do you need to decide whether the Lee Psychology approach suits who you are and what you have been through, but also whether or not you feel you will be able to work effectively with us as individuals.
To arrange your free initial consultation please contact: