About Addictions and TherapyBy Caroline Kendal MBACP (Accred)
Addicts are in denial. Denial is the inability to look at the truth. As addicts, we think we are in control and rationalise our actions, but at some point, we lose control and the addiction controls our lives. Addiction can be used as a calming or stimulating replacement for various feelings; it numbs uncomfortable or painful thoughts, feelings or experiences. Addiction also gives us a purpose in life; the trouble is that the purpose is satisfying our addiction.
In order to tackle an addiction, we have to admit to it. Owning up ensures that we have started the journey to recovery. When we acknowledge our addiction, however, we face the necessary challenge of exposing ourselves to the discomfort we have numbed as well as dealing with the consequences of how we have behaved.
Addicts have a strong impact on those around them. When there is an addict in the family, the whole family is affected and witnessing a loved one self-destruct is painful. Sometimes, in order to help both the addict and the family, family members have to detach themselves. This doesnít mean abandonment but 'tough love', setting boundaries time and time again. As well as learning about addiction, the family may wish to consider the addictís role in the family. By focusing energy on the addict, family members may be avoiding their own thoughts, feelings and experiences. In any event, the help of the family is crucial to recovery.
The addictís world is a secretive and lonely place. The wonderful thing about good treatment is that it can lift this burden. As well as providing crucial support to both addict and family, self-help groups also offer a sense of identification and belonging. While substance abuse must be tackled with specially designed programmes, other addicts (whether sex, shopping, eating disorders) and recovering substance addicts can continue the journey of spiritual growth in explorative therapy.
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Issue area(s): Alcohol Dependence
Therapy Type(s): Counselling, Psychotherapy