It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure – Joseph Campbell
What is addiction?
Addiction occurs when an individual no longer has control of using substances or an activity. They may use the substance or behaviour compulsively and to excess.
Frequently, it is caused by a need to escape emotional difficulties or upsetting situations. Alcohol and drug addictions can cause profound suffering. This may not only affect the addicted person but also their family and friends.
Addiction counselling can help a person, with a behaviour or substance dependence, to work through their issues in a safe way.
What kind of addictions are there?
Addictions can develop within a range of activities or use of different substances. These are most commonly associated with using alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, internet, consuming porn, eating, work and exercise.
This often starts with pleasurable feelings which can trigger powerful urges to continue to use the substance or activity in order to reach the original ‘high’. This repetitive cycle can be extremely difficult to break. In simple terms, with a habit, a person has control of their choices, but with an addiction, they are no longer in control.
How do you know if someone is addicted?
People who become addicted, may not be aware of the impact it has on their health, relationships and work. They may find great difficulty in attempting to stop their behaviour on their own.
Some of the following are indicators that a person is struggling with alcohol dependence, drug misuse or behavioural addiction.
- Unable to limit the activity or use of a substance and physical impairment may be apparent
- Intense cravings to use the substance or activity
- Increased tolerance with escalating use of the activity or substance
- Withdraw attempts from drug or activity can cause physical symptoms such as anxiety, nausea, the shakes, irritability and difficulty to concentrate
- Risk taking in order to use the substance or activity
- Neglecting important aspects of everyday life such as work/school/college
- Repeated relapses
An individual under the grip of addiction may be unaware of the harmful impact their dependency causes to themselves and their loved ones. Some may be aware of their addiction, but in denial. The substance or activity becomes their ‘go to’ method of coping with life issues.
Some people may be frightened that they will be unable to manage and enjoy life without using. Others may falsely believe that they are able to stop if they actually wanted to – but on attempts find this incredibly difficult.
Sometimes a person will resist labelling themselves as a “drug user” or “alcoholic” as there is societal stigma attached to these terms. The accompanying shame can turn back on the person in the form of self-loathing and low self-esteem.
My addiction counselling approach offers a non-judgemental space for clients to get to grips with their addictive process. Consequently, they can go onto live more fulfilling lives.
How can counselling help an individual who is struggling with addiction?
Counselling for addiction can help individuals to learn about their compulsions.
Low self-esteem, trauma, abuse, stress, depression, anxiety, loss and bereavement can all contribute to a person becoming an addict later in life. The substance or activity may initially be a way to cope with and escape the pain of these or other difficulties. As a result, this can escalate into addiction and become a problem in itself.
A client may discover how possible underlying emotional needs may have originally contributed to their addictive behaviour. This can be a significant start to a person’s recovery.
Feelings can be safely explored in therapy
Clients who struggle with addiction may feel intensely difficult feelings. Commonly, these may include guilt, shame, a sense of failure and helplessness. Counselling can help explore these feelings in a confidential environment.
It is important to note, that some people can experience physical dependency to alcohol or substances. In these cases, a visit to their G.P. to discuss safe detoxification is essential. Combining a medical detox with on-going counselling helps an individual to take back control of their lives.
I have worked as a psychotherapist at a private addiction rehabilitation residence. My experience offers clients valuable insights into their own recovery from addiction.
Feel free to give me a ring for a chat or use my contact form. We can discuss how addiction counselling can provide support through this difficult time. Therapy can help you to learn to manage and cope with your life in a healthy way.
Jenny’s Mobile: 07886082333
You can find my counselling practice in Stratford-upon-Avon or Leamington Spa.
Visit the resources page to access helplines and website details of useful organisations.