- Are you or your loved one struggling with addiction?
- Has it interfered with your social life, family, career, and/or overall sense of confidence and well-being?
If so, you are not alone and don’t need to feel isolated. Help is available.
I have over 10 years of experience working with those suffering from addiction, as well as several years working with concerned significant others who have loved ones suffering from addiction.
Addiction is a very common problem.
If we are honest with ourselves, we can say everyone has some form of addiction whether to substances or behaviors. Usually, we associate addiction with the former – drugs and alcohol. However, people become addicted to behaviors such as porn, shopping, sex, or gambling. Some people have socially accepted forms of addiction such as exercise, TV, social media, or work. The point is that addiction is very common and it is often hypocritical to cast judgment.
Like substance use, socially accepted addictions are still attempts to fill a void or seize comfort.
Addictions happen to be less socially acceptable only when they cause more obvious negative consequences – such as continued substance use for example. Drugs and alcohol seem to be the quickest and most effective way to change or enhance our state of mind.
However, over time the payoff of drugs and alcohol becomes less, and the consequences become greater. If someone is at this stage, a desire, or at the very least some desire to change may emerge.
If we work together, I will ask that you attempt to take a break from whatever it is you are using/doing that is causing the consequences to seek treatment. I will also encourage you to pursue an additional support such as LifeRing, Smart Recovery, The Phoenix, Refuge Recovery, or 12-step programs.
My Basic Approach to Addiction Counseling
My approach to addiction revolves around Edward Khantzian’s M.D. definition. He writes that “Addiction is a disorder of self-regulation.” That means that people suffering from addiction prior to, and during addiction have difficulty managing anxiety, emptiness, shame, frustration, impulses, emotions, and self-esteem. As a result, compromised self-regulation makes it difficult to connect with others. Thus, with an inability to connect with others recovery is very difficult.
Since we are social animals, being able to truly connect with others and manage your emotions in the context of relationships is the most effective antidote for recovery and happiness. Healthy interactive regulation can be learned in the contexts of therapy. In fact, at its core, that is the basic function of therapy.
In this context, it is important to work towards reducing and eliminating the attachment to the addiction(s) that is preventing sober and meaningful connection with others. During this process, we will work on healthy self-regulation. That means learning tools, gaining perspective and confidence to deal with life’s slings and arrows. As well as learning ways to deal with frustration, shame, low self-esteem, anger or trauma. The more one is able to have comfort in their own skin, the more one will be able to have healthy attachments to others that provide the interactive regulation and sense of belonging needed to stay sober.