An addiction is a chronic dysfunction of the brain system that involves reward, motivation, and memory. It is about the way your body craves a substance or behaviour, especially if it causes a compulsive or obsessive pursuit of “reward” and lack of concern over consequences. In most cases, an addiction begins with using a substance or behaviour as a method of self-soothing to decrease feelings such as anxiety and depression. This slippery slope of addiction quickly trips into dependency, resulting in cognitive dissonance surrounding the aforementioned activity. This can cause great internal stress for the individual, as the addiction continues to compound and snowball. In addition to this, addiction can negatively impact a person financially, mentally, and socially, as well as posing significant effects on friends, family, and the larger community.
Despite popular misconception, there is no such thing as an addictive personality, however there is often a personality disorder behind each addiction. These can range between mild cases such as avoidant personality disorder in which the individual may partake in activities (e.g., drinking) to mitigate fear and anxiety in social situations, or as serious as borderline personality disorder where one may attempt to self-medicate symptoms with different substances. Self-medication is one of the most prevalent causes of addiction and is most commonly found amongst those with personality disorders or previous mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. When one becomes reliant on substances such as alcohol as a method of self-soothing, the damaging cycle of addiction begins; “I am anxious because I am drinking too much, and I am drinking too much because I am anxious”.
Alcohol expenditure reports for the 20-21 financial year showed a significant decrease in the average amount of money spent on alcohol compared to the previous financial year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The decrease in these financial statistics, however, do not directly correlate with alcohol consumption. According to Roy Morgan’s Alcohol Consumption Report, the proportion of Australians who drink alcohol increased by 3.5% in the span of 12-months from September 2020 driven largely by increases in the number of Australians consuming wine, beer, spirits, and pre-mixed drinks. Stress has emerged as a key driver increasing alcohol consumption throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as people turn to substance use as a method of self-medication. Lockdowns and restrictions as a result of the pandemic can be largely contributed to the decrease in money spent on alcohol due to it being purchased at a cheaper price point from bottle shops, rather than at a higher value from restaurants or bars. As we emerge from the pandemic, the “sober curious” movement has begun to gain traction, and is growing in popularity particularly amongst Millennials and Generation Z.
In the “sober curious” movement, people experiment with sobriety for various mental and physical health reasons. It also aims to break the stigma that you must be an alcoholic in order to be sober. Society can be extremely judgemental towards those battling addiction, however overcoming this is never easy when those around you are encouraging harmful behaviour. It is not uncommon for people to feel outside pressure from their cohort, when they try to address their addiction. In group settings where addiction and substance abuse are present, or maybe an individual is just “sober curious”, other members of the group may guilt or pressure this individual in order to keep them in a negative pattern of behaviour; “What’s going on with you? Are you too good to drink with us now?” This is because behaviour change of an individual in a group can have a mirror effect, leading to everyone else questioning their own actions and behaviour. In addition to peer pressure, substance abuse issues such as alcoholism can be generational and begin at a young age due to influences such as culture or viewing social drinking as a rite of passage.
Alcohol is an intrinsic part of Australian culture, and it plays a central role in most people’s social lives. Heavy drinking is seen as acceptable in a number of social situations from, weddings to sports matches, and even at funerals or baby showers. In Australia, television viewers are bombarded with advertisements for alcohol whether it’s during a commercial break or sporting sponsorship, it is a heavily advertised industry that generates billions of dollars each year. At Neuro Clinics Australia, we want to raise awareness regarding the subliminal advertising that surrounds alcohol and allow you to explore your personality traits, with the help of a new, innovative, and ground-breaking treatment regime, known as TMS.
Operating under a curative model, TMS is a series of non-invasive procedures that uses painless magnetic pulses to target pathways in the brain associated with avoidance, anger, anxiety, decision-making, and OCD. The stimulation of these pathways further strengthens them and results in a boost of brain activity which can assist with managing impulsivity and enhance consequential thought, two significant components in addiction. TMS has shown positive results in improving cognitive function, assisting with better decision-making and the ability to recognise cognitive dissonance.
Restore your consequential thinking and impulse management through TMS.