When we think of addiction and dependency we tend to think of alcoholism and drug addiction and feel for those whose lives are sliding out of control, whether they be a celebrity or someone sleeping rough in our local park. What we often don’t appreciate is that dependency can take many forms and is widespread within our communities, our families and among our friends.
Dependency encompasses far more than drugs and alcohol and can include over-eating, gambling, shopping, sex and relationships. In fact it is possible to become dependent on almost anything.
Why do we do these things? It may be to avoid difficult or uncomfortable feelings or to try and fulfil unmet needs. But the temporary relief doesn’t last and we find ourselves needing to do more and more to achieve the same level of numbness or satisfaction.
There is often embarrassment and shame attached to such behaviours.
It may become a family ‘secret’ that is known but not to be discussed, or it may be a family ‘joke’ to be laughed off, but the reality behind the behaviours is emotional pain. None of us want to admit or accept that either we or those we love may be doing something harmful, be it drinking, eating, gambling or any other dependent behaviour, that is out of control.
It’s not easy to accept that we have a problem which is a risk to our emotional and physical health, our relationships and sometimes also to the safety of others. It takes courage to do something about it.
Counselling and psychotherapy provide a safe and confidential environment for people to explore their dependency, begin taking control of their behaviour and start the process of healing their pain.