Getting Practical

Whether you have struggled with addictions yourself such as drugs or gambling or have studied it from an outside perspective, you probably know that mental health is a critical piece of the puzzle. We look at effects on the individual and their friends and families and the services we can provide in support of addictions.

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The loss of a child has an incredible impact on any family and John Savages’ family is no different. John and his wife tragically lost their young baby and understandably him and his family suffered extremely crippling bereavement. John, a former employee of an electrical wholesaler and now a sole trader of electrical products, reached out to the Electrical Industries Charity for emotional support for him, his wife and young daughter. The charity sourced and funded regular therapy sessions for all of the family with a specialist bereavement counsellor. The initial bereavement counselling the family received was instrumental in providing them an outlet to vent, discuss and grieve in a safe environment.

The Electrical Industries Chairty continued to support the family...

...and went on to offer John a psychiatric assessment to establish the state of his emotional wellbeing. John was diagnosed with a mood disorder which had been exacerbated by his home-life, relationship difficulties, past substance misuse and history of trauma. During this period John was struggling within his marriage. John divulged that him and his wife had always had a turbulent relationship, but their marriage had now become unhealthy and even dysfunctional. Although their marriage had since become highly toxic John felt as though he could not function without his partner referring to her as ‘an addiction’.

Often when we refer to addiction the term is associated with illegal substances, alcohol or gambling. Another form of addiction is a dependence on a person. This is not a foreign experience and many struggle with breaking away from a person even if they know their relationship is unhealthy. John found he could not leave his partner physically or emotionally, but as their marriage became increasingly destructive his mental state worsened and the fragile composition of their family hung in the balance. Similar to those who suffer with a drug addiction, John was putting his need to be with his partner above his own health and his family’s wellbeing.

The Electrical Industries Charity continued to support John throughout his tumultuous relationship with regular therapy sessions and emotional assistance from the in-house support team. John and his wife’s marriage continued to decline, and the destructive cycle of their relationship impacted his mental health significantly. Therapy sessions continued and John learnt coping techniques to try and limit his continual need to be with his partner.

Only after months of therapy sessions did John feel as if he could combat his addiction...

...and take steps towards breaking the toxic cycle. He left the family home and moved to a space of his own in which he could focus on his wellbeing and breaking his addiction. With limited contact to his partner John began to become stronger and started to see a life beyond his destructive relationship. After breaking his cycle of addiction with help from the EIC, John enjoys life with his daughter and him and his now ex-partner maintain a limited but civil relationship.

John still regularly attends specialised therapy for trauma sufferers and continues to manage his life independently and addiction free. The welfare team continues to chat with John about his progress and he has recently completed a follow-up counselling evaluation. The evaluation confirmed John’s mood had improved and this assessment allows the charity to keep an eye on what support John needs and how the EIC can help him further.

An addiction can completely uproot someone’s life. John’s addiction to his partner turned his life upside down and left him feeling isolated and desperate. You do not need to feel this way. The Electrical Industries Charity can support you no matter how you feel or what your circumstances are.

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone our entirely free and confidential helpline to speak to a member of our welfare team – 
0800 652 1618


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Melanie, a 27-year-old employee of a large electrical wholesaler, initially approached the Electrical Industries Charity as she was struggling to cope with the breakdown of her marriage. The EIC support team referred Melanie to their partner organisation, Psychiatry UK, for a psychiatric evaluation which diagnosed her with multiple mental health disorders. Namely, Melanie was suffering with resistant recurrent depressive disorder, bulimia nervosa and unstable personality traits. To cope and cull her emotional distress Melanie began to engage with physical self-harm through binging then purging and cutting herself. Although these are compulsive behaviours, they were exacerbated by Melanie’s retail addiction.

Many of us may feel that we shop a little too much and could do with reining in our spending, but often we do not shop excessively. A retail addict will shop excessively to improve their temporary disposition. Purchasing a new dress, crockery set, or gadget releases a short hit of dopamine, a chemical which evokes feelings of happiness and even love but this feeling is short-lived, and its long-term implications can be detrimental. A shopping addiction can worsen your current mental, financial and physical wellbeing, all of which Melanie suffered with.

The Electrical Industries Chairty worked with Melanie...

...to source and fund a counselling assessment so she could discuss her circumstances and wellbeing in a safe environment away from external pressures. Although Melanie was prescribed medication and was making progress within her counselling assessment, she was still struggling with her retail addiction and the subsequent self-harming behaviours it resulted in. Melanie’s inordinate spending worsened relations with her husband and her debt began to spiral out of control. Melanie’s spending habits were escalating and because she had no control of her shopping, she tried to regain authority by using other compulsive behaviours such as binging and purging and cutting herself.

As Melanie persisted with therapy the Electrical Industries Charity sought a rehab facility to help her overcome her eating disorder. Melanie was admitted for seven-days rehabilitation where she processed her feelings and understood her compulsive behaviours with the help of expert clinicians and therapists. Although Melanie began to understand her compulsions her shopping addiction continued during her stay in London. During downtime from therapy Melanie was leaving the facility to shop, seeking a feeling of happiness and release from her internal emotional turmoil. Melanie completed her rehabilitation, but her addiction remained unwavering.

Upon returning home Melanie was still struggling to cope and even attempted her own life. The stresses of her work life alongside her relationship and her emotional wellbeing meant Melanie’s addiction worsened and her debt began to mount up more significantly. Again, the EIC funded a further seven-day stay within rehab and since this second stay Melanie’s condition has begun to improve. Her relationship with her partner has improved meaning she does not feel the need to seek happiness from retail purchases as often and she continues to engage with a counsellor provided by the charity.

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Melanie continues to battle against her addiction...

...and resolve her compulsive behaviours which were worsened by her shopping addiction. Addictions cannot be cured as such, but they can be treated with consistent therapy, rehabilitation and positive support from a close network. Melanie still receives ongoing support from the Electrical Industries Charity, and she is making steps towards managing independently.

The word addiction does not just refer to drugs and alcohol you can be addicted to social media, gambling or even shopping. The Electrical Industries Charity often see individuals who are suffering from a wide spectrum of addictions and Melanie is just one example of someone who has sought help from the EIC not directly for her addiction but for support while she battles the effects of her retail addiction.
If you need support while battling an addiction or believe a relative may be struggling with an addiction of their own the Electrical Industries Charity can help.

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone our entirely free and confidential helpline to speak to a member of our welfare team –
0800 652 1618


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Many people don't understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. They may mistakenly think that those who use drugs lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. Drugs change the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to. Fortunately, researchers know more than ever about how drugs affect the brain and have found treatments that can help people recover from drug addiction and lead productive lives.

What Is drug addiction?

Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to shutterstock 309039743control, despite harmful consequences. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs. These brain changes can be persistent, which is why drug addiction is considered a "relapsing" disease—people in recovery from drug use disorders are at increased risk for returning to drug use even after years of not taking the drug.

It's common for a person to relapse, but relapse doesn't mean that treatment doesn’t work. As with other chronic health conditions, treatment should be ongoing and should be adjusted based on how the patient responds. Treatment plans need to be reviewed often and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.

Why do some people become addicted to drugs while others don't?

No one factor can predict if a person will become addicted to drugs. A combination of factors influences risk for addiction. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction. For example:

Biology - The genes that people are born with account for about half of a person's risk for addiction. Gender, ethnicity, and the presence of other mental disorders may also influence risk for drug use and addiction.

Environment - A person’s environment includes many different influences, from family and friends to economic status and general quality of life. Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, early exposure to drugs, stress, and parental guidance can greatly affect a person’s likelihood of drug use and addiction.

Development - Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages in a person’s life to affect addiction risk. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier that drug use begins, the more likely it will progress to addiction. This is particularly problematic for teens. Because areas in their brains that control decision-making, judgment, and self-control are still developing, teens may be especially prone to risky behaviours, including trying drugs.

Can drug addiction be cured or prevented?

As with most other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, treatment for drug addiction generally isn’t a cure. However,addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed. People who are recovering from an addiction will be at risk for relapse for years and possibly for their whole lives.  Research shows that combining addiction treatment medicines with behavioural therapy ensures the best chance of success for most patients. Treatment approaches tailored to each patient’s drug use patterns and any co-occurring medical, mental, and social problems can lead to continued recovery.

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Prescription drug abuse is the use of a prescription medication in a way not intended by the prescribing doctor. stop drugs 2Prescription drug abuse or problematic use includes everything from taking a friend's prescription painkiller for your backache to snorting or injecting ground-up pills to get high. Drug abuse may become ongoing and compulsive, despite the negative consequences. An increasing problem, prescription drug abuse can affect all age groups, including teens. The prescription drugs most often abused include opioid painkillers, anti-anxiety medications, sedatives and stimulants. Early identification of prescription drug abuse and early intervention may prevent the problem from turning into an addiction.


Signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse depend on the specific drug. Because of their mind-altering properties, the most commonly abused prescription drugs are:

  • Opioids used to treat pain, for example medications containing oxycodone — such as Oxycontin and
    Percocet — and those containing hydrocodone — such as Norco
  • Anti-anxiety medications and sedatives, such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium), and hypnotics, such as zolpidem (Ambien), used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders
  • Stimulants, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, others), dextroamphetamine and amphetamine (Adderall XR, Mydayis), and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and certain sleep disorders

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Talk with your doctor if you think you may have a problem with prescription drug use. september health calendar 1You may feel embarrassed to talk about it — but remember that medical professionals are trained to help you, not judge you. It's easier to tackle the problem early before it becomes an addiction and leads to more-serious problems.

The EIC understands that individuals who have experienced trauma consequently engage in drug and/or alcohol addiction to manage their psychological pain and distress. The addiction is therefore used as method of coping. The EIC has compiled statistic’s using cases we have supported over the last year, which suggest that 82% of serious addiction sufferers experienced a traumatic event but never sought therapy for it.  This is a significantly high proportion and is compounded by the complexity of trying to support an addiction sufferer. Currently, support services work independently and lack the coordinated response necessary to effectively support a person dealing with both mental illness and addiction.

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Self-harm can actually be a form of addiction as individuals crave shutterstock 736272622the release that injuring themselves may bring about. Some feel it is an outlet to let the emotions escape, causing a feeling of relief, brief calm, and even sometimes a rush of endorphins afterwards. These feelings are generally short-lived and often followed up with feelings of shame and guilt, and a desire to punish themselves which can lead to further episodes of self-harm and other dangerous outlets. Those who engage in self-harm often are caught in a vicious cycle they may have trouble breaking on their own.

One such outlet that a person suffering from self-harm may explore is substance abuse. A study out of Oxford found that approximately 8.7 percent of people presenting with deliberate self-harm also abused drugs. Individuals suffering from DSH may seek relief in the form of drugs or alcohol for many of the same reasons they cut or burn themselves. They may actually use the substance as a poison in further attempts to self-harm.

Substance abuse may be an attempt to self-medicate or an attempt to further numb the pain. Unfortunately, it can actually make matters much worse. Some may initially have self-harming tendencies and then move to abusing substances, and some may start out as substance abusers and move on to self-mutilation. Both can have dangerous consequences.
Drugs and alcohol can slow reaction times and decrease nerve endings, making self-injuring behaviours very perilous while under the influence. For example, someone who cuts may cut too deep, causing serious or even fatal wounds before realizing the depth or severity. Alcohol and drugs can also exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety, leading to more severe methods of injurious behaviour even including suicide.

Warning Signs

Those who regularly engage in non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) say that it offers temporarily relief from overwhelming emotions and negative thoughts as much as 90 percent of the time, as reported by Current Psychiatry. It is important to understand that although this seems like it might be helpful, it is not a healthy outlet for relieving stress and should be treated. It can be a symptom of a greater issue and many who suffer from NSSI also may have substance abuse problems as well. Some of the warning signs of this condition are:

  • Noticeable wounds that aren’t easily explained
  • Wearing long-sleeved clothing at inappropriate times in an attempt to hide wounds
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Isolation or a lot of time locked in a room or bathroom
  • Impulsivity
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Personal identity issues
  • Tools such as razors, bits of glass, lighters, knives or scissors in places they don’t belong and usually in easily accessible places

Typical locations for cuts and burns are on the arms, legs and stomach; all of which are places that are easily accessible and can be covered up. Social media sites are also flooded with cases of self-harm, and some even glorify it. Cases of celebrity self-mutilation continue to pop up, and self-harming behaviour seems to be rising everywhere. Excessive visits to pro-self-harm websites could be a warning sign for a bigger problem. If you or someone you know is presenting these warning signs, it is time to get help.

Treatment Options

Self-harming behaviour can be difficult to notice, diagnose and treat. Only recently has the disorder really hit the public eye. Many times, episodes of self-harm are indicative of an underlying psychological disorder, but not always. When self-injurious behaviour is coupled with addiction, treatment can be even more difficult. Those who struggle with addiction as well as self-harming behaviours need specialized treatment that simultaneously addresses both afflictions.

Dual diagnosis treatment understands the unique pressures that can lead individuals to want to harm themselves. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy may be an effective tool along with group, family and individual therapies. If someone suffering from self-harming behaviours has a traumatic event or trigger in their past or current life, dual diagnosis treatment can work to uncover the issues and help patients to cope in a healthier way.

Developing new life skills and ways to handle stress, anger and frustration as well as depression and anxiety are part of what makes dual diagnosis treatment so successful.

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What is alcohol addiction?

Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism, is a disease that affects people of all walks of life. Experts have tried to pinpoint factors like genetics, sex, race, or socioeconomics that may predispose someone to alcohol addiction. But it has no single cause. Psychological, genetic, and behavioural factors can all contribute to having the disease.

It’s important to note that alcoholism is a real disease. It can cause changes to the brain and neurochemistry, so a person with an alcohol addiction may not be able to control their actions. Alcohol addiction can show itself in a variety of ways. The severity of the disease, how often someone drinks, and the alcohol they consume varies from person to person. Some people drink heavily all day, while others binge drink and then stay sober for a while. Regardless of how the addiction looks, someone typically has an alcohol addiction if they heavily rely on drinking and can’t stay sober for an extended period of time.

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What are the symptoms of alcoholism?

Alcohol addiction can be difficult to recognize. Unlike cocaine or heroin, alcohol is widely available and accepted in many cultures. It’s often at the centre of social situations and closely linked to celebrations and enjoyment.
Drinking is a part of life for many people. When is it common in society, it can be hard to tell the difference between someone who likes to have a few drinks now and then and someone with a real problem?

Some symptoms of alcohol addiction are:

  • Increased quantity or frequency of use
  • High tolerance for alcohol, or lack of “hangover” symptoms
  • Drinking at inappropriate times, such as first thing in the morning, or in places like church or work
  • Wanting to be where alcohol is present and avoiding situations where there is none
  • Changes in friendships; someone with an alcohol addiction may choose friends who also drink heavily
  • Avoiding contact with loved ones
  • Hiding alcohol, or hiding while drinking
  • Dependence on alcohol to function in everyday life
  • Increased lethargy, depression, or other emotional issues
  • Legal or professional problems such as an arrest or loss of a job

As an addiction tends to get worse over time, it’s important to look for early warning signs. If identified and treated early, someone with an alcohol addiction may be able to avoid major consequences of the disease.

If you’re worried that someone you know has an alcohol addiction, it’s best to approach them in a supportive way. Avoid shaming them or making them feel guilty. This could push them away and make them more resistant to your help.

What are treatment options for alcoholism?

Treating alcohol addiction can be complex and challenging. In order for treatment to work, the person with an alcohol addiction must want to get sober. You can’t force them to stop drinking if they aren’t ready. Success depends on the person’s desire to get better.

The recovery process for alcoholism is a lifetime commitment. There isn’t a quick fix and it involves daily care. For this reason, many people say alcohol addiction is never “cured.”


A common initial treatment option for someone with an alcohol addiction is an outpatient or inpatient rehabilitation program. An inpatient program can last anywhere from 30 days to a year. It can help someone handle withdrawal symptoms and emotional challenges. Outpatient treatment provides daily support while allowing the person to live at home.

Alcoholics anonymous and other support groups

Many people addicted to alcohol also turn to 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).There are also other support groups that don’t follow the 12-step model, such as SMART Recovery and Sober Recovery.

Regardless of the type of support system, it’s helpful to get involved in at least one when getting sober. Sober communities can help someone struggling with alcohol addiction deal with the challenges of sobriety in day-to-day life. Sober communities can also share relatable experiences and offer new, healthy friendships. And these communities make the person with an alcohol addiction accountable and provide a place to turn to if there is a relapse. 

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The EIC is excited about a new collaborative support service tailored to support addiction suffers and other mental distress.

The London Recovery Clinic have years of experience helping individuals make the difference to their lives for the better. Becoming free from poor emotional well-being is not easy. Their belief is that it does need to be done alone.

Whatever the issues, support is available, and they can help you to live the life you deserve.
Their primary purpose is to help you understand your situation, and help you develop the resources to live a healthy and productive life.

At the London Recovery Clinic, they offer you the support and treatment needed to change your life, and experience positive emotional well-being. They adopt an approach that is tailored, confidential, holistic and non-judgemental. The clinic’s priority is to identify and treat not only the symptoms but the underlying causes – this is an area which is significantly lacking the public service sector. They offer specialised treatment programmes which are delivered safely to the highest levels of clinical standards.

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They treat:

  • Alcohol Addiction
  • Drug Addiction
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trauma

Nick Kypriotis the owner and a practitioner at the clinic is a qualified and accredited therapist who specialises in the treatment of addictive disorders, anxiety, depression and trauma. He holds a master’s degree in psychology and counselling and has previously been a registered manager with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in the UK.

Nick is accredited by the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals (FDAP) and National Counsellors Association Creditation (NCAC). He also holds professional indemnity insurance and is enhanced DBS checked. He is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) to an advanced level which means he can work with a wide spectrum of clients suffering from various types of trauma. These types of trauma include post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, phobias, chronic pain, sexual abuse, grief as well as addictions urge reduction protocols. Nick integrates EMDR, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), psychodynamic, person-centered, models of therapy into individualised treatment programs. He has worked extensively in both outpatient and residential settings and has also helped set up and deliver treatment programs for both primary and secondary care for well-known residential facilities.

Areas of clinical expertise

Nick works closely with primary care trusts providing consultancy in the area of addictions and trauma. His areas of clinical expertise are anxiety, depression, drug addiction (Recreational & Prescription) and mood disorders. Key skills include: Trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), patient, tolerant and sensitive, excellent knowledge of addiction, and mental health issues, good sense of personal integrity and ethics, excellent communication and listening skill.

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Compulsive gambling, also called gambling disorder, is the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on your life. Gambling means that you're willing to risk something you value in the hope of getting something of even greater value.

Gambling can stimulate the brain's reward system much like drugs or alcohol can, leading to addiction. If you have a problem with compulsive gambling, you may continually chase bets that lead to losses, hide your behaviour, deplete savings, accumulate debt, or even resort to theft or fraud to support your addiction.

Compulsive gambling is a serious condition that can destroy lives. Although treating compulsive gambling can be challenging, many people who struggle with compulsive gambling have found help through professional treatment.

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  • Being preoccupied with gambling, such as constantly planning how to get more gambling money
  • Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to get the same thrill
  • Trying to control, cut back or stop gambling, without success
  • Feeling restless or irritable when you try to cut down on gambling
  • Gambling to escape problems or relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression
  • Trying to get back lost money by gambling more (chasing losses)
  • Lying to family members or others to hide the extent of your gambling
  • Jeopardizing or losing important relationships, a job, or school or work opportunities because of gambling
  • Resorting to theft or fraud to get gambling money
  • Asking others to bail you out of financial trouble because you gambled money away

Unlike most casual gamblers who stop when losing or set a loss limit, people with a compulsive gambling problem are compelled to keep playing to recover their money — a pattern that becomes increasingly destructive over time.

Some people with a compulsive gambling problem may have remission where they gamble less or not at all for a period of time. However, without treatment, the remission usually isn't permanent.

When to see a doctor or mental health professional

Have family members, friends or co-workers expressed concern about your gambling? If so, listen to their worries. Because denial is almost always a feature of compulsive or addictive behaviour, it may be difficult for you to realize that you have a problem.

If you recognize your own behaviour from the list of signs and symptoms for compulsive gambling, seek professional help.


Exactly what causes someone to gamble compulsively isn't well-understood. Like many problems, compulsive gambling may result from a combination of biological, genetic and environmental factors.
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Although most people who play cards or wager never develop a gambling problem, certain factors are more often associated with compulsive gambling:

• Mental Health Disorders - People who gamble compulsively often have substance abuse problems, personality disorders, depression or anxiety. Compulsive gambling may also be associated with bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

• Age - Compulsive gambling is more common in younger and middle-aged people. Gambling during childhood or the teenage years increases the risk of developing compulsive gambling. However, compulsive gambling in the older adult population can also be a problem.

• Sex - Compulsive gambling is more common in men than women. Women who gamble typically start later in life and may become addicted more quickly. But gambling patterns among men and women have become increasingly similar.

• Family or Friend Influence - If your family members or friends have a gambling problem, the chances are greater that you will, too.

• Medications Used to Treat Parkinson's Disease and Restless Legs Syndrome - Drugs called dopamine agonists have a rare side effect that may result in compulsive behaviors, including gambling, in some people.

• Certain Personality Characteristics - Being highly competitive, a workaholic, impulsive, restless or easily bored may increase your risk of compulsive gambling.


Compulsive gambling can have profound and long-lasting consequences for your life, such as:

• Relationship problems
• Financial problems, including bankruptcy
• Legal problems or imprisonment
• Poor work performance or job loss
• Poor general health
• Suicide, suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts


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A quick and easy test with 16 statements to respond to on a scale of ‘does not apply at all’ to ‘applies completely’ which indicates whether an individual is struggling with a gambling addiction. Once the questionnaire is complete, you are encouraged to speak to a GamCare advisor free of charge who can provide support and advice regarding what to do if you think you have a gambling addiction.

How Safe Is Your Gambling


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The use of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tinder has become the cornerstone of modern communication and connection as it allows users to create a sense of belonging and redefine their way of being. Despite the many positive benefits and impacts of these sites, the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal has reignited discussions about the place of social media and social networking sites in our lives.

From a mental health perspective, concerns have been raised about the negative impact of excessive use of social networking sites on the health and wellbeing of users, especially that of young people, who are enthusiastic users of this technology.

Social media use for a minority of individuals is associated with a number of psychological problems, including anxiety, depression, loneliness, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and addiction. Because social media is most frequently accessed via smartphones, their usage is intimately intertwined and their mobile nature contributes to excessive checking habits, which often derives from what is commonly labelled as the ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO).

If you want to check whether you may be at risk of developing an addiction to social media, ask yourselves these six simple questions:

  • Do you spend a lot of time thinking about social media or planning to use social media?
  • Do you feel urges to use social media more and more?
  • Do you use social media to forget about personal problems?
  • Do you often try to reduce your use of social media without success?
  • Do you become restless or troubled if you are unable to use social media?
  • Do you use social media so much that it has had a negative impact on your job or studies?

If the answer to all six of these questions is “yes” then you may have or be developing an addiction to using social media. We say “may” because the only way this can be confirmed is through a diagnosis from a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist.’

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I decided to step away from Facebook and Instagram, which Facebook also owns. Needless to say, it was an eye-opening experiment. Here's how my week without Facebook and Instagram began.

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UK report suggests sites such as Facebook and Instagram could be harming mental health

It is paramount that we protect young people online,’ the MPs said. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA
Social media addiction should be considered a disease, MPs have said, in a sign of the pressures facing technology companies and the growing concern over the impact social networks are having on users’ mental health.

The politicians called for further research on the effects of social media but said a report suggested there was good reason to believe sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – which are constantly competing for users to spend more time on their platforms – could be having a corrosive effect on children.

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It is paramount that we protect young people to ensure they are kept safe and healthy when they are online,” said the MPs, who believe the government should urgently fund long-term studies to see whether a clinical definition for social media addiction should be introduced.

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People who know someone struggling with an addiction often wonder how to help an addicted friend or relative. The decision to try and get help for someone you care about who has an addiction is never easy. Fortunately, with your support, they have a greater chance of overcoming their addiction. Each situation is unique, but there are some general guidelines that will help you approach this task.

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Expect Difficulties

There are many reasons that helping someone you care about with their addiction can be difficult:

  • They may not agree that they have a problem.
  • They may not want to change what they are doing.
  • They may fear consequences e.g., losing their job, going to prison.
  • They may feel embarrassed, and not want to discuss it with you.
  • They may feel awkward about discussing personal issues with a professional.
  • They may be engaging in the addiction as a way to avoid dealing with another problem that bothers them more.

There is no fast and easy way to help someone with an addiction. Overcoming an addiction requires great willpower and determination, so if they do not want to change what they are doing, trying to persuade them to get help is unlikely to work. However, you can take steps that will help your loved one to make changes over the long term and will help you to cope with a loved one with an addiction.

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Step 1: Establish Trust

This can be hard to do if the addicted person has already betrayed your trust. However, establishing trust both ways is an important first step in helping them to think about change. Trust is easily undermined, even when you are trying to help.

Avoid These Trust-Destroyers:

  • Nagging, criticizing, and lecturing the addicted person.
  • Yelling, name-calling, and exaggerating (even when you are stressed yourself).
  • Engaging in addictive behaviours yourself, even in moderation (they will think you are a hypocrite).

Be aware that:

  • Although you just want to help the addicted person, they may think you are trying to control them, which can lead to them engaging in the addictive behaviour even more.
  • They probably use addictive behaviour at least partly as a way to control stress. If the atmosphere between you is stressful, they will want to do the addictive behaviour more, not less.
  • Building trust is a two-way process. Trust is not established by putting up with bad behaviour. If you have no trust for your loved one and do not feel it can be established at the moment, you should read Step 2.
  • People with addictions rarely change until there is some consequence to their behaviour. Don’t try too hard to protect the addicted person from the consequences of their own actions (unless it is harmful to themselves or others, for example, drinking and driving).

Step 2: Get Help for Yourself First

Being in a relationship with a person who has an addiction is often stressful. Accepting that you are going through stress and need help managing it is an important step in helping your loved one, as well as yourself.

Step 3: Communicate

Although you may feel tempted to let your loved one know that their addiction is a problem and that they need to change, the decision to change is theirs. They are much more likely to be open to thinking about change if you communicate honestly but in a way that does not threaten your loved one.

Step 4: The Treatment Process

The treatment process will vary according to the kind of treatment your friend or relative is getting. If you want them to change, you will probably have to change too, even if you don’t have an addiction. If you show you are willing to try, your loved one will be more likely to try as well.

StepIf you are involved in your loved one's treatment:

  • Remember to keep working on establishing trust. Re-read Step 1 before going to counselling with your loved one.
  • Be honest about your feelings, what you want to happen, and what the addiction has been like for you.
  • Do not blame, criticize or humiliate your loved one in counselling. Simply say what it has been like for you.
  • Do not be surprised if your loved one says that things you are doing are contributing to their addiction. Try to listen with an open mind.

If your loved one has treatment alone:

  • Respect their privacy in everyday life. Do not inform friends, family or others about your loved one’s treatment.
  • Respect their privacy in therapy. If they don’t want to talk about it, don’t push for them to tell you what happened.
  • There are many different approaches to the challenge of how to help addicts, but remember, change does not happen overnight.

NEW Sept HP titles12 v 2

treating chronic addiction
preventing heroin overdose