ADDICTION SERVICES FIFE
Our increasingly stressful lifestyles mean that more and more people are turning to forms of substance abuse to make themselves feel better, but the tragic reality is that alcohol and drugs only ever make things worse. Yes, they might provide us with a very brief and temporary sense of euphoria or stress relief but these effects will soon wear off and leave us feeling even worse than we did before. Whatever the substance of choice, it will take greater and greater quantities to achieve the same effect each time, and before we know it we’re trapped in an inexorable downward spiral with catastrophic consequences for our health, relationships and finances.
Addiction takes many forms – it’s not just about smoking, drinking or drug use but also gambling, shopping, computer gaming and even Smartphone addiction. We’re living in a culture of instant gratification which leaves us constantly wanting more. No matter how much you have, you’ll always be chasing the next product, the next model, the next iPhone, the next car, the next job or the next episode of a TV show. Our binge culture has left us addicted to the feelgood chemicals serotonin and dopamine and we’re constantly looking for more of whatever gives us our personal hit. These neurotransmitters are stimulated by factors such as social acceptance, which is why we tend to be happier when we’re feeling loved and are the centre of attention. Here’s the problem - the digital age has turned a natural human response mechanism into a serious addiction. Nowadays we spend increasing amounts of time wired into social media, posting our every move on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and judging our own popularity and status by the number and nature of responses we receive. People become so driven by the need to be popular - and the need to be perceived by others as popular - that they accumulate hundreds of Facebook friends, many of whom they barely know, if at all, just to boost their social standing.
Each time somebody “Likes” one of our social media posts, it feeds into the pleasure/reward section of our brain and results in a release of serotonin, giving us a little mini-high. Our social media interactions become a barometer of our social standing and, consequently, a measure of our happiness. Here’s the problem though… because we’re essentially dealing with a drug addiction, it takes greater and greater quantities of serotonin to achieve the same ‘hit’ each time. We all know that one of the biggest problems with any form of addiction, and drug addiction in particular, is that the more you’re exposed to the stimulus, the greater the quantity that will be required in future to achieve the same effect. For example, when you have your first taste of alcohol, it doesn’t take much to get you drunk very quickly. But as your body becomes habituated to the effects over time, your resistance grows and it will take more and more drinks to get you to that “happy place”. This is why so many addicts who start out taking relatively “soft” drugs such as cannabis will gradually progress to harder substances like cocaine and even heroin.
So each picture you post on Facebook has to receive more “Likes” than the previous one in order for you to get the same level of buzz. If you don’t achieve that, then symptoms such as self-doubt and paranoia begin to seep in. Is my popularity decreasing? Don’t people like me anymore? Have I done something wrong? It might sound funny but it’s essentially true and we’re living in a culture in which many people - particularly the younger generation - have developed a dependency on the validation they receive on social media to the extent that they can’t feel happy without it. Their brains are overstimulated by constant exposure to electronic devices which they carry with them 24/7 and they are so hopelessly addicted to serotonin and dopamine that they are constantly craving the approval of peers and strangers alike just to get their next hit.
Here at Phoenix we have a strong track record of working with addiction and with helping young people in particular to break bad habits and turn their lives around. Using a unique combination of talking therapies, hypnotherapy, meditation, mindfulness and NLP techniques, we can teach you a myriad of completely safe and natural ways to enhance your mood, experience higher levels of consciousness and lead a happier life without dependence on external sources of stimulation.