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Addictive Disorders

Addictive Disorders




An addictive disorder is an impaired control over any substance (chemical) or non-substance (behavioural), which can rouse major social problems, risky behaviour, and tolerance or withdrawal symptoms. Addictive disorders cloud a person’s regular judgement, which affects their decision making, memory, learning, and control over certain behaviours.

Addictive disorders are widespread — often bearing severe consequences for sufferers, whose symptoms are often chronic and relapsing in nature.

Risk factors for addictive behaviour include cultural and social triggers, as well as genetic predispositions. The negative implications of addiction not only affect the individual, but also their family and the broader community.


What is addiction?

“Addiction” is a complex term to grasp — essentially, it is a brain disease which transpires due to compulsive engagement in a seemingly rewarding stimuli. It is a patient’s “loss of control” over a behaviour, despite any adverse consequences they might face. Substance (chemical) dependence and abuse are common manifestations of addiction, and the condition creates powerful urges to recreate the mental “highs” felt from being under the influence of certain drugs, including alcohol and nicotine.

In spite of the negative consequences, addicts may go out of their way to feed their habit by engaging in risky behaviour that threatens to damage their personal and professional relationships. It’s important to remember that chemical and behavioural addiction is a disease that is impulsive, progressive, potentially fatal and treatable.


Why do people misuse substances or non-substances?

There are a number of reasons why people engage in substance misuse and other unhealthy behaviour. For many sufferers of addiction, using drugs and alcohol becomes a learned way of coping with their issues, instead of reaching out to someone or seeking a healthy solution to manage grief.

For others, the cycle begins after succumbing to peer pressure or as a way to experiment and explore their curiosity. If going against the grain isn’t enough, patterns quickly turn into addiction and users may turn to harder drugs so as to reach new “highs”. Some addicts will begin to use substances or other outlets to self-medicate or unwind at the end of the day.

It’s important to remember that using substances or unhealthy behaviour to cope or self-medicate only worsens the situation or presents new problems.


Signs and symptoms of an addictive disorder

The signs of addiction aren’t always clear cut — often varying from person to person. It can be difficult to pinpoint when addictive behaviour becomes a problem, and the criteria for dependency and abuse can at times be called into question.

Nonetheless, there are a number of red flags which likely indicate a patient suffering from the condition. Here are some exhibiting signs and symptoms in which you might draw the conclusion of an addictive disorder:


Physical warning signs
  • Extreme hyperactivity or lethargy

  • Changes or deterioration in hygiene and/or physical appearance

  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain

  • Tremors, sweating or impaired coordination

  • Slurred/incoherent speech or repetitive speech patterns

  • Bloodshot eyes/dilated pupils

  • Excessive sniffing and runny nose

  • Nausea and vomiting

Behavioural warning signs
  • Increased risk taking and participation in dangerous activities

  • Neglecting usual responsibilities

  • Reduced participation/missing important engagements

  • Prolonged or regular time off work/school

  • Secretive or isolating behaviour/activities

  • Unusual sleeping patterns

  • Financial problems (i.e. always asking for money)

  • Relationship/marital problems

  • Complaints from coworkers/teachers

  • Criminal activity

Psychological warning signs
  • Irritability

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Fear or paranoia

  • Anger outbursts

  • Sudden mood swings

  • Inattentiveness

  • Social withdrawal

  • Changes in persona

  • Euphoria


Common substance and behavioural addictions

When we think of addiction – alcohol and other drugs are often called to mind – but substance abuse isn’t the only characterisation of an addictive disorder. Common destructive habits involve both substances and non-substances (behavioural):


  • Alcohol

  • Tobacco

  • Gambling

  • Opioids (heroin, oxycodone, morphine, or codeine)

  • Other prescription painkillers

  • Central nervous system (CNS) depressants (sedatives, hypnotics, or anxiolytics)

  • Amphetamines (crystal methamphetamine or MDMA)

  • Cocaine

  • Marijuana

  • Sex

  • Food and eating

  • Internet

  • Mobile phone/social media

  • Video gaming


Coming to terms with addiction

Denial, often a process of intervention, can sometimes influence the sufferer’s family and friends into enabling behaviour. Addiction sufferers can sometimes struggle to identify their condition, and will instead persuade their loved ones to make excuses, cover for them, or forgo the appropriate care, so they can continue to use substances or engage in certain behaviour.

Recovery is all about acceptance. Struggling with addiction can be an isolating experience, but it’s important to remember you and your loved ones are not alone. Coming to terms with and understanding an addictive disorder can open up the doors to recovery.


Helping friends and family with their addiction

Friends and family play a central role in both intervening with and preventing a loved one’s substance use and misuse by offering a level of protection that is invaluable. Facing addiction can be frightening — but family involvement helps to encourage a sense of resilience on the road to recovery. Having the strong social support and guidance of a positive role model can make all the difference in preventing a relapse.

A relationship based on honesty will best convince your loved one to seek help for their problem — so if you do notice any warning signs, make sure you address your concerns with an open conversation.

Remember you are not alone. If you are concerned your loved one may be struggling with an addictive disorder, reach out to Currumbin Clinic. Our highly trained and compassionate staff are here to assist you every step of the way.


Treatment and support for addiction

It’s important to provide sufferers of addiction with the resources, education and clinical support needed to address their issues, and in turn, limit the risk of overdose and misuse.

Treatment for addiction addresses the root causes of the disease, including:


  • Low self-esteem

  • Anger

  • Sadness

  • Guilt/shame

  • Abuse/trauma

  • Abandonment (emotional or physical)


Inpatient Admission

Our clinic offers inpatient services for the treatment of addiction, which involves complete detoxification, whilst ensuring any side effects and risks associated with withdrawal are treated within a controlled and supervised environment. Medically supervised detoxification may be suitable for those who require a more intensive detoxification within a safe environment with added support to minimise temptations and potential risks.

Following an assessment, patients undertake a three week drug and alcohol inpatient program which includes relapse prevention and lifestyle management strategies. This group-based program provides patients with the skills, techniques and strategies needed to understand and manage dependency disorders.

Throughout admission at Currumbin Clinic, patients attend regular appointments with one of our onsite Consultant Psychiatrists, who oversee treatment for the duration of their stay.

We adopt an abstinence-based approach to treatment. All admitted to our addictions program have the option to undertake the 12 step support group program, either Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which offers an addiction recovery framework.


Day programs
Addictive Disorders Therapy

Currumbin Clinic offers a DVA approved 8-week day program for sufferers of an addictive disorder. This abstinence-based program runs for eight weeks, taking a psychodynamic approach towards rehabilitation. Our morning sessions are dedicated to exploring the challenges faced on a daily basis, whilst our afternoon sessions hone in on the skills needed to maintain recovery and reduce the risk of relapse. This program may be suitable for those who are affected by addiction, but are able to receive treatment amongst their everyday routine.


Every Friday for eight weeks as detailed below (morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea is provided).

8:30am - 9:00am ~ Registration and sign in

9:00am - 2:30pm ~ Group program

2:30pm - 3:30pm ~ Facilitated relaxation session


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Currumbin Clinic offers a number of day programs which provide a structured application of proven Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) processes to treat the underlying issues contributing to an addictive disorder. They contain focused cognitive restructuring activities that are known to help manage addictive disorders, depending on individual needs. For more information, please contact our clinic, where one of our professionals will help you determine the right program for your condition.

CBT for Anxiety Disorders

Every Tuesday for eight weeks as detailed below (morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea is provided).

8:30am - 9:00am ~ Registration and sign in

9:00am - 2:30pm ~ Group program

2:30pm - 3:30pm ~ Facilitated relaxation session

CBT for Mood Disorders

Every Wednesday for eight weeks as detailed below (morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea is provided).

8:30am - 9:00am ~ Registration and sign in

9:00am - 2:30pm ~ Group program

2:30pm - 3:30pm ~ Facilitated relaxation session


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Currumbin Clinic offers a 6-week day program for sufferers of an addictive disorder. This program is based on the principle of accepting what is out of one's personal control while committing to action to enrich their life and make it more meaningful. It aims for individuals to learn to handle painful thoughts and feelings in such a way to have less impact and influence (mindfulness skills), and to clarify what is truly important and meaningful (clarify values). It teaches participants to use this knowledge to guide, inspire and motivate themselves to set goals and take action that enriches their life.


Every Wednesday for six weeks as detailed below (morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea is provided).

Closed group

8:30am - 9:00am ~ Registration and sign in

9:00am - 2:30pm ~ Group program

2:30pm - 3:30pm ~ Facilitated relaxation session


Building Strength and Resilience Therapy

Currumbin Clinic offers an 8-week day program for sufferers of an addictive disorder looking to ‘bounce back’ from difficult life experiences. This program is for people trying to cope with mental health problems like depression, anxiety, addiction and adjustment issues. Using a range of evidence based strategies, the aim of the program is to build personal resilience and develop emotional physical health. Participants will be taught a range of practical skills to help ‘bounce back’ from stressful and difficult life experiences and get back to meeting the demands of day-to-day living. A number of theoretical models are utilised, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Positive Psychology, Mindfulness and Affect, or Emotional Regulation to enhance personal wellbeing.


Every Monday for eight weeks as detailed below (morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea is provided).

5:00pm - 9:00pm ~ Group program


Alternative ways to cope with addiction

There are many ways to treat addiction and there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer. At Currumbin Clinic we believe in placing an emphasis on both mindfulness-based therapies and evidence-based medicine throughout the recovery process. Each and every patient is unique — as such, one of our healthcare professionals will assess your individual circumstances to design a program that considers all factors unique to your rehabilitation.


Reach out

If you’re coming to terms with your addiction or someone you know is struggling with an addictive disorder, we’re here to listen. Call 1800 119 118 to take the first step of recovery. Speak to one of our qualified and compassionate staff members about treatment options today.


If you are in distress call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention.


If you need emergency support, please dial 000 for the police or an ambulance.