The Circle Line

Can't get enough?

We can immerse ourselves in all sorts of things...
food, sex, booze, work, coke, tech...
How much is enough?


From the other-worldliness of gaming, the rush of sex, the excitement of gambling or the abandonment into booze or recreational drugs… life offers many pleasures and diversions. If yours is becoming a habit, how do you know when enough is enough? And what to do about it?

The different forms of addiction

Most things in moderation are ok.
We’re free to enjoy life’s pleasures as much as we want.
But what about when we’re over-using something: a substance, activity

or habitually throwing ourselves into something and it’s having negative consequences?

Here we explore what compulsive behaviour is, why we do it and the solutions available.

For there are many things we can get addicted to, including….

What, why, and what to do

What is addiction? How much is too much?

In our natural state, we are good judges of what is good for us. We know what makes us feel good in our selves and our bodies, and what doesn’t. If there’s something about our use of anything that’s causing us distress or discomfort – whether physically, emotionally, financially, morally, or due to the knock-on effect in another area of our life – it’s valuable to explore our behaviours.

When any addiction gets serious it can have unwelcome consequences:

Why do we do it?

What causes our compulsivity; to want too much of a good(bad) thing?

Addiction is a way of coping with life’s stresses – past and present – albeit not a healthy way. There are two fundamental causes:

1) Our psychological “Script”: the unconscious narrative and life pathway we create in childhood, shaped by our experiences, and reinforced with evidence we gather throughout our life ensuring our negative beliefs are justified.

2) Our learnt bodily response. You may have heard the phrase “fight or flight”. When we are under stress, our system responds in one of five ways in order to cope:

  1. Fawn – people please, manipulate or acquiesce
  2. Fight – get snappy, physically or verbally aggressive, alienate people
  3. Flight – escape, in our mind or literally run away
  4. Freeze – do nothing, mind blanks
  5. Flop – detach our mind and shut down our body.

These are the natural and automatic responses that keep us safe. We usually favour one of these stress responses according to our childhood experiences, birth order and genetic predispositions. When we experienced emotional or physical threats in the past, our body and brain stored our safety mechanism. Often this is unconscious – we are not aware of the reason or the memory. But the body remembers.

Compulsivity or obsession (“addiction”) can be seen as a form of “flight” – of escape into something to get and/or avoid something else. Usually underneath it, what we’re actually seeking is:

To get love: connection, recognition, understanding, empathy. If we don’t have it or feel we can’t get it, we seek a substitute pleasure/rush.

To avoid pain: the sadness, fear, hurt, or loneliness we feel. This is often historic pain and we might not be aware of it.

To add to this, with substance use there’s the physical chemical imbalance and dependence that can develop in our body.

There’s no shame in this reaction; paradoxically it’s your brain and body trying to get what you need and keep you safe. However, when your responses are no longer helping you but harming you or others, something is stuck and needs shifting.

So how do we break the cycle?

By developing healthy and helpful thoughts, emotions and nervous system response, we can begin to choose other methods of coping, keeping well and getting us what we need.

This is where therapy and recovery services come in.

To understand why we’re doing our behaviour we need to uncover our underlying beliefs and experiences that led us to this reaction in adult life. This is much easier with a trained person to support and act as your mirror.

In therapy and specialised drug and alcohol recovery services we get crucial support and learn why we behave as we do, work through our original feelings and responses to what life threw at us which shifts the stuckness, and we find more choice over how to get our needs met in the present. We regain self-control.


There is always help available to regain control of our responses and recover from addiction. If you are impacted by this article speak with one of our therapists, or contact one of these resources today.

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