Addiction- disease of the human spirit

The addictive disease destroys some of our most core values such as honesty, trust, love, hope, honour, innocence and all other beautiful abstracts that are destroyed by an addictive disease. 

Spiritual values are damaged that are the essence of life.  Hope and trust are not mental skills, they cannot be achieved through mental or physical effort, they are spiritual values.  Spiritual damage causes consequences in every other aspect of life: physical, mental, marital, social, professional, financial and so on.   When the spiritual disease or core value disease is given a spiritual treatment, then the secondary consequences in other areas of life resolve on their own.  We as professionals, therefore, need to treat causes rather than consequences.  Life has value, every minute of it, this we sometimes only acknowledge when in danger of losing it. 

Please note that each person is unique and the reasons for using alcohol and drugs excessively differ from person to person, yet there are common addictive characteristics.   It is important for all of us to know these traits in order to provide help and guidance as we need to treat the causes of addictive diseases and nature. 

Addictive characteristics:

  1. Pre-Occupation with use or non-use
  2. Preference for, or contentment with using substances
  3. Use as a medicine, to help relax or sedate or to stimulate
  4. Use primarily for mood-altering effect
  5. Protection of supply, preferring to spend time, energy or money on this way.
  6. Repeatedly using more than planned, the first use trends to trigger the next.
  7. Having a higher-capacity than other people for using the substance or process without obvious initial damaging effects, although in time this tolerance is lost.
  8. Continuing to use despite progressively damaging consequences.
  9. Drug-seeking behaviour, looking for opportunities to use, and progressively rejecting activities that preclude use.
  10. Drug dependent behaviour, needing addictive substances or behaviour in order to function effectively.
  11. The tendency to cross-addict into other addictive substances or processes when attempting to control use.
  12. Continuing to use despite the repeated serious concern of other people.

The sad social fact of addiction is that all addicts believe fervently that in their chosen behaviour they are establishing their individual right to behave independently, exactly as they wish, whereas that is precisely what is being progressively lost.  The truth is that each addict is absolutely in the grip of addictive disease and behaves in the same way (or near enough) as any other addict. 

Early diagnosis of addiction is tricky, however, for several very good reasons, firstly addicts can stop they do so all the time- but then later they relapse.  This clinical misconception (that one cannot be addicted if one can stop) causes a terrible delay in appropriate diagnosis.  Secondly, addicts commonly switch to another addictive substance or process when the damaging consequences of the original addiction begin to mount up.  All an addict wants is to feel better “somehow”: it doesn’t really matter how, although each addict will have preferred addictive outlets.  Thirdly, the progression of the disease is not a straight line downwards but a wavy path, with plateaus at times and definite times of improvement at others.  These temporary improvements cause havoc with early diagnosis and can cause false security to parents and employers.  Therefore it remains important to observe the addictive charter traits in order to diagnose more effectively.  The consequences of the person’s addiction remains a good indicator. 

Annesta Hofer Counselling Services Newsletter

Annesta Hofer Counselling Services provides professional therapy and tailored made counseling programmes with the aim of enhancing behavioral modification and emotional healing. 

I am committed to providing you with monthly informative articles that are linked to the work that I do.  Please subscribe to the newsletter in order to receive this valuable information. 

Post Traumatic Stress, Grief, Depression, Addiction and any Emotional struggle remain the focus of my practice,  yet I believe in combining animal and nature therapy with cognitive behavioral therapy in order to deal with difficult issues in a more meaningful and joyful manner. 


Annesta Hofer                                                                                

Behavioural Therapist/ Clinical Social Worker

BSW Honours (Social Work and Psychology)


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