Addiction Counselling In North Leeds

Addiction is a complex learned behavioural problem.

Addictions are very often misunderstood and are not to be confused with the physical dependency of a substance. It is important to understand that physical dependency can, and will happen to anybody taking the right dose of a substance that has the correct chemical make up, which causes the bodily organs to become dependent, if repeatedly taken over a period of time, causing physical withdrawal symptoms when discontinued.


Physical dependence of a substance can be treated relatively easily by gradually reducing the substance over a period of time and using short term substitution drugs to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms.


Addiction, however, is much more complex and is best described as the user placing irrational importance to their drug of choice and a compulsion to carry on drinking or using despite negative consequences. Addiction can be thought of as a condition linked to the reward system of the brain and connected elaborately to an individuals environment, memories, thought processes, belief systems, genetic makeup and emotions.


Because of the nature of addiction and the connection between ones learned behaviours, emotions, coping mechanisms and environment, the cycle of addiction is reinforced more and more as the individual becomes more entrenched in irrational addictive thoughts and behaviour.


The addictive behaviour acts as a "short term release" for the individual who is seeking comfort and relief from an uncomfortable and anxious state of being, resulting in the person repeating the actions over and over again in order to gain the perceived pleasurable states.


As the individual becomes more and more addicted and as their neural networks become more "wired" together (often over many years), it becomes increasingly more difficult to identify, accept and change their behaviours, but with the correct knowledge and support, escaping the vicious cycle of addiction is achievable as many, many people around the world have proved! Honesty with yourself is the beginning of your recovery journey and you need to be able to accept and implement this in order to move forward and make changes.

Addiction doesn't just impact on the individual who is suffering from the problem, it affects those who are closest to them, with friends and family members often feeling confused and overwhelmed with issues, dynamics and feelings around addictive behaviours, such as lies, deceit, shame, guilt and denial. All these issues can be dealt with in time and can be looked at together in a recovery plan, as family and friends help the individual recover through mindful support.

Families and friends can help support the individual who is having problems with addiction, by learning as much as they can about addictions, trying to be open-minded and not reinforcing any negative or unhelpful labelling or stigmatising of the person suffering. A calm, collective and non-judgemental mindset will help to keep the individual focused, and kind words of encouragement and positivity can really help their loved one get through this difficult period in their lives.

Drug and alcohol addiction is a complex behavioural disorder which is brought about by multiple factors in an individuals life. Below are some simplified reasons as to why people become addicted to substances and how we begin to understand and recover from alcoholism or drug misuse.

Why Do We Get Addicted?


  • Combination of life experiences (from birth) and genetic makeup of chemicals in parts of the brain.

  • Inability to express emotion/feelings lead to learned behaviour to “disconnect the self”.

  • Behaviours seek short term relief from emotional discord with links to, and from, the reward system.

  • The brain looks for a pathway to give the fastest relief to the individual.

  • Pathway connections are re-enforced every time and over time.

  • Irrational Behaviours also re-enforced due to guilt/shame (and other emotions) and consequences overlooked.

  • Frustration from not being in control and unable to cease destructive behaviours keep individual in the cycle.

  • Pride and reward systems continue to keep individuals in the cycle.

  • Individuals amygdala may be in a state of “heightened flux” leading to feelings of anger, danger, fear, paranoia and self-consciousness being exaggerated and longer period of “cooling off” than in normal/other individuals.

How Do We Recover?

  • Understand and reflect on our life experiences and genetic makeup (which includes education / learning about parts of the brain).

  • Learn to express emotion/feelings which lead to learned behaviour to “disconnect the self” by talking, exploring and learning in a safe environment.

  • Awareness and identification of our behaviours and emotions (especially around trigger and craving periods) give us the foundations to bring about change.

  • Processing that the body and brain are reacting to urges and the pathway that is established via the synapses in the brain “in the moment”.

  • Recognising the times that irrational thoughts are likely to occur and plan our responses to bring about more choices and change.

  • Process thoughts and learn more about belief systems, family beliefs and reasons behind guilt/ shame and other “emotional discord”

  • Control destructive behaviours by starting to understand the causes and work on “the self”.

  • Replace old unwanted beliefs, work on reward and pride systems through education and talking therapies.

  • Slow down everything.. including breath, thought processes, life. Practice mindfulness, meditation and exercise to learn to “tame” the amygdala responses and start to understand “the self” more by education and utilising talking therapies.

These are just a few of the elements, ideas, reasons and discussions that I try to bring to my drug and alcohol recovery sessions that I deliver in North Leeds, Yorkshire, UK.

Start Recovery

10 Holt Avenue


LS16 8DH


Tel: 0113 3280211

      07899 391456

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