Addiction affects the thoughts, feelings and behaviour of the addict, disturbing their perceptions and attitudes, and disrupting the personality. This is partly because addictive substances interfere with the natural chemistry of the brain, but it is also a direct result of the whole experience of addiction.

The severity of the psychological affects of addiction depend on the addict's mental health before becoming addicted, and the ongoing circumstances of her life. If the drug itself (eg., alcohol) is particularly damaging to the brain, long term, irrepairable psychological harm may result. Not every addict experiences the same degree of damage; but there are common psychological symptoms that most suffer sooner or later:
    * Depression - ranges from feeling very 'down' and helpless/hopeless, to suicidal
    * Anxiety - ranges from feeling generally fearful to loss of trust and paranoia
    * Low self-esteem - may become self-loathing, and links to shame and guilt
    * No confidence - a state of mind related to anxiety and depression
    * Anger - from touchy and irritated to explosive and blaming
    * Boredom - the pattern of addiction becomes relentlessly, tediously the same


Thought patterns become defensive, and work to protect the addiction. Some are responses to the stress of living the addict's life, and some are a direct result of damage done by a drug's chemistry.
    * Dependency - believing others are responsible and can fix you
    * Denial - convincing oneself and maybe others that it is not as bad as it is
    * Obsessive - exclusive focus on the substance and getting enough of it
    * Grandiosity - thinking you and your concerns are more important than anything
    * "If only..." - focussing on everything but the real thing that needs changing
    * Self harm - ideas about ways to relieve or escape the suffering
    * Mental ability - memory and concentration impairment

The first and foremost 'treatment' for mental health recovery in addictions is long-term abstinence. The longer one is alcohol and drug-free, the clearer the mental faculties become! In addition to staying away from the addictive substance, many addicts choose to include in their plan:

    1. counselling
    2. residential treatment
    3. 12-step programs

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