By Dr .Lisa Agarwal, BSc, BHMS
Addiction is a continued repetitive behaviour, a condition which arises when a person engages in an activity or ingests a substance which can be pleasurable but interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, work, relationships and health when its continued use becomes a compulsion.
Addiction includes impaired control over substance or behaviour, pre occupation with the substance or behaviour, continued indulgence despite the consequences and denial of the above.
- Inability to limit the indulgence in the substance or activity, leading to impairment.
- Continued usage leads to a state of tolerance wherein the body adjusts to the substance.
- Attempts to stop the use leads to symptoms of withdrawal irritability, anxiety, nausea.
- Continued indulgence in the substance or activity leads to psychological impairment, interpersonal problem, detrimental effect on health, mood, self esteem and the negative impact of the specific substance used.
Compulsive and addictive behaviours:
Addiction is an obsessive compulsive reaction to a stimulus. Most commonly it is referred to a reaction to stress. But addiction is not limited to biochemical substances like cocaine, alcohol or nicotine. People do experience the so called behavioural addictions ,which include activities like gambling, playing video games, watching pornography all of which are activities which lead of immediate rewards be it money or pleasure. These activities affect the impulse control mechanisms hence prove to be problematic.
Addictions are treatable. It includes dealing with the obsession and the addictive compulsion, dealing with the withdrawal, supportive therapy and also rehabilitation.
The first phase deals with the withdrawal from the problem substance or activity. Symptoms of withdrawal are both physical and emotional.
Physical symptoms of withdrawal include nausea, restlessness, tremors, sleeplessness, altered heart rate, fever, sweat and chills.
Emotional symptoms include depression, anxiety, irritability and mood swings.
These symptoms last from days to weeks usually not life threatening but medical intervention eases out the process.
Cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling help people to realise, avoid and cope up with the stresses which lead to the addictive compulsions.
Supportive care in the form of family therapy and rehabilitation help the patients to achieve a healthy environment.
Homoeopathic principles define an energetic life force within every individual which determines the persons traits be it the physical appearance, emotional make up or the various tendencies, sensitivities and susceptibilities of the person.
Similarly the addictive tendencies are also the result of the internal energies which have become toxic, the obsessive compulsive energies, which need to be released from the body. Oftentimes to overcome one addiction people take recourse to a lesser harmful alternative, example smokers using nicotine patch, in such cases the addictive energy is not released from the body but is satisfied by another agent, remain suspended in the body in different forms, no wonder we often find smokers over eating once they quit smoking.
Homoeopathy aims at releasing the addictive energy from the body, removing the tendency of seeking an immediate reward (addiction) form of way to overcome stress, it also helps the patient to realise and cope better with the stress hence strengthening the entire emotional framework of the individual. Homoeopathy uses the energy of various plants, animals and minerals to heal the similar diseased energies. For example coffee which in the crude form is used as a stimulant, but as a homoeopathic medicine it is used to soothe an insomniac and a hyper excited mind.
The commonly used remedies in addictions are:
Nux vom: Referred to as the hangover medicine, it is prepared from plant containing strychnine, a neurotransmitter linked to obsessive compulsive behaviour.
Lobelia: Derived from the Indian tobacco plant, helps countering nicotine addictions.
Staphysagria: Helpful in individuals where the addictions are essentially as a result of mortified emotions and related stress.
Carbo veg: Derived from the ash of birch wood, similar to the charcoal of cigarette smoke, it revitalises the state of inertia while maintaining the calm.
Homoeopathy is a deep acting treatment for dealing with addictive tendencies, alleviating the withdrawal discomfort and for serious ailments works best with behavioural therapies and counselling.
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