What is Addiction

Addiction is a disorder which causes malfunction of the brain’s reward circuits. Up to 60% of addiction sufferers have probably inherited the disorder genetically (National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2010). As well, the reward system can be damaged by overusing it. Those who are affected by this disorder will continue to reinforce their dulled reward system with substances (drugs, alcohol) or processes (gambling, sex, food) to increase feelings of pleasure – although only temporary. Once this happens, someone with a genetic susceptibility to the disorder will have knock on effects, or chemical cascades, to other parts of the brain affecting things like judgement and impulse control. This is why ‘addicts’ or alcoholics cannot control their using. Addiction is a chronic condition (American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2011) which means that it lingers, and symptoms will return if it is not treated.

Types of Addiction

About Addiction
Contrary to popular belief, addiction involves more than just chemical dependency (dependence on drugs or alcohol). Instead, modern medicine has found that addiction can include a variety of stimulating activities that are potentially addictive. Referred to as ‘process’ addictions, these activities include gambling, compulsive overeating, compulsive sexuality and many more.
At The Cabin’s rehab centres, we view all addiction as part of the same disorder and employ the ‘all addiction’ model for addiction treatment. This treatment method is backed by the ASAM and NIDA, after much research into the neurobiology of addiction. If you or someone you know is suffering from a process addiction to gambling, food, sex or other addictive processes, you may need treatment. Treatment for these disorders follows the guidelines of treatment for chemical addictions (drug or alcohol addictions).

Treatment Types – Outpatient vs Inpatient

There are essentially two setting options when it comes to addiction treatment: inpatient or outpatient. Many people suffering from severe substance abuse disorder involving drugs or alcohol will require medical supervision during withdrawal, and thus would be best treated in inpatient settings, such as residential detox and rehab facilities (see our inpatient rehab centre).

Outpatient addiction treatment, also known as ‘dayhab’, takes place in addiction specific medical clinics, and is most appropriate for those who are suffering from addictions but can still lead an overall functional life. For example, they can still function at work and meet family responsibilities even through their addiction.

At The Cabin Sydney, our counselling schedule takes place around work hours so that our clients are still able to attend their jobs and family lives while getting the required addiction treatment they need and deserve. Some clients may need to spend time in our inpatient facility initially, before continuing at our outpatient facility. This is assessed on a client-by-client basis.

How is Addiction Treated

It is widely accepted by both medical and psychological professionals that the disease of addiction entails biological, psychological and social components – all of which need to be treated. Which is why we use the bio/psycho/social model to conduct our addiction treatment.

Medical Treatment

When detoxing from any substance, it is always advisable to seek medical advice to ensure a safe beginning to recovery. However, the need for medical treatment varies depending on the severity of the individual’s addiction. At The Cabin Sydney, we have an on-site psychiatrist who can make an initial assessment and assist with detoxes when necessary.


Psychological Treatment

Psychological and social aspects of addiction can be effectively treated using recognized and evidence based counselling models:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – focuses on increasing psychological health by learning to dispute what are known as ‘thinking errors’ or irrational ways we perceive and make meaning out of situations. Thinking errors are a main cause of the dysfunctional emotional states which are symptomatic of addiction (ASAM 2011)
  • 12 Step Fellowships – 12 Step fellowships focus on treating the social/psychological aspects of addiction via ‘fellowship’ meetings which are peer run support groups where members use a common lexicon of recovery and learn to ‘identify’ with other people recovering from addiction.
  • Meditation/Relaxation Techniques – There are many techniques of meditation which concentrate on building the brains ability to focus and concentrate, producing a more balanced brain chemistry which is necessary for recovery from addiction. You can even expand the idea of meditation to include physical activities which increase feelings of wellbeing, such as yoga.
In any intensive addiction treatment setting this work is done using one to one therapy between you and a counselor, and also in group therapy, where peers can gently challenge or ‘dispute’ each other’s thinking patterns and learn off each other in a mutually supportive environment.