It is estimated that in the UK about two million people have an addiction to some form of substance or activity. Addiction is a complex illness with physical and psychological symptoms, affecting not only the individual, but their family, friends and social environment too. Clergy and their families are not exempt. Addictive behaviour arises as a way of coping with either internal or external pressures. The addictive behaviour often starts as a solution to experiencing distress but when established as a pattern of destructive behaviour then it becomes part of the problem.
Having an addiction affects the person in complex ways but some of the key features are:
- Feeling out of control – there is strong compulsion to use the substance or activity, people describe being in the grip of something and feel powerless in the face of the addiction
- Dependency – this occurs when the person needs the substance in order to carry on. People can be dependent in different ways and with different degrees of intensity
- Risk of harm – this includes harm to the body, mind, relationships, work and disruption to normal living.
This section gives basic information about a range of addictive behaviour and some resources that will support recovery. Sections include: