Most of us have habitual behaviours that we subconsciously indulge in without much thought. We carry on with the behaviour without really considering the long-term implications. Not all habitual behaviours are bad for us; this often depends on how often we do it and for how long.
Let’s take recreational drug and alcohol use for example. A person may start using street drugs or drinking alcohol only when going to a party or an event to have a good time. They are able to wake up the next day feeling relatively okay and don't use drugs or drink again until the next event. This is not yet a habitual behaviour with negative outcomes.
However, should that same person begin to use/drink at all weekend events or whenever they have to go to a social event, they might start believing they need the drug to function socially and that’s when we start getting into dangerous territory. It becomes a situational behavioural habit when neural pathways begin to form in the brain. The person may begin to believe that they need drugs or alcohol to get through every social engagement. As this neural pathway becomes further entrenched, the person increasingly believes they need it to function on a more regular basis, and so it becomes an addiction.
Addiction can be a slippery slope. We often hear that addicted people need to hit rock bottom before they seek help. The consequences of addiction can be devastating for the person addicted and the loved ones surrounding them, which is why early detection is supremely important.
Relationships may begin to fracture due to the stress experienced by both the addicted person and their loved ones. Addiction can take a toll on those loved ones; impacting their physical, emotional and spiritual resources. Sometimes people with addictions seek help because they have been given an ultimatum by their loved ones.
People living with an addiction may struggle to maintain their job; they may take too many sick days or just not turn up for work. Further, their productivity may decrease and work relationships can become strained. This can lead to their unemployment. Without a job, an addicted person may turn to crime to support their addiction. This can potentially lead to their involvement in the criminal justice system. They may end up homeless and unsupported at a time they sorely need support. On top of all of this, their physical and mental health can be significantly compromised.
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