What is addiction counseling? What is it like? People who struggle with addiction issues often have great difficulty talking about their, use, misuse, or abuse of alcohol and other drugs. An addiction counselor is someone skilled at these types of difficult conversations. An addiction counselor has a high level of knowledge and experience in the areas of drugs, alcohol, and the abuse of drugs or alcohol. Most importantly, addiction counselors understand the complex ways that alcohol and drug abuse affect an individual’s relationships: with himself or herself, with a spouse, with an employer, with God. An addiction counselor seeks to build a trusting relationship with the client in the hopes that this relationship will help the client make changes that once seemed impossible.
“If addicts could stop on their own they wouldn’t be addicts.”
The above statement is true. Addicts need help to quit. They need effective inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment. Addiction is a disease that can be treated. But without treatment many addicts and alcoholics die of the illness.
Addicts and alcoholics need all the help they can get from loved ones. The best help available is treatment for the disease of addiction.
Here are five myths about addiction. Are any of these myths preventing a loved one from getting the help they need?
1. Addicts and alcoholics need to reach rock bottom before they can accept help.
2. Addiction is a willpower problem. They could stop, if they really wanted to.
3. People don’t need treatment. They stop when they are truly motivated.
4. Treatment doesn’t work.
5. People must want treatment in order for it to be effective.
Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction requires a level of self-honesty that many people struggling with alcohol or drug abuse find challenging, if not impossible, to achieve. For this reason, it is good to proceed cautiously, gently. What starts as a tiny glimmer of truth in the mind may grow into the strong conviction one needs to get truly honest and seek help. We’re looking for a statement that the addicted individual can recognize as truth.
Something like this:
- I really, really love drugs and alcohol. Maybe I need them. But they may be negatively impacting my life.
Nothing in there about change. Nothing in there about what, if anything, will be done to fix the problem. Just a simple statement of the truth.
The fist step is someone seeing and understanding this type of truth in his or her own life. This is not as easy as it sounds. Some people never develop the ability to see the truth in their own lives. The second step is for the addicted individual to share this truth with someone who loves him or her. This is the very earliest part of addiction recovery.
Myth #1: I am the only person having mental health or emotional problems.
Mental illness affects an average of about one in four adults in the United States(1), in total that means that about 57.7 million people in our country are affected by mental illness(2). Although you may feel like you are the only person you know struggling to cope with mental health issues of some kind, it is important to know that you are not alone.
Myth #2: Addiction, substance abuse, and/or mental health issues are all my fault and make me a bad person.
There are multiple factors that affect the complex process of addiction, substance abuse, and mental health issues. Some of the factors include stress in your personal life, a diagnosed mental illness, lifestyle changes, difficulty in your family or relationships, or even habits of the individual. None of these factors are your fault or define you as a “good” or “bad” person.
Myth #3: Mental illness or substance abuse only affects people of low socioeconomic status or people with a “bad childhood”.
Again, there are several factors that contribute to the cause of mental illness, but the childhood you had, job you have currently, or the money you make are not directly the cause of your mental health or substance abuse troubles. Mental illness does not discriminate and is not exclusive to any stereotypical group of people.
(1) Kessler, R.C., Chiu, W.T., Demler, O. & Walters, E.E. (June 2005). Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of twelve-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(6), pgs. 617-627.
(2) U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates by Demographic Characteristics. (June 2005). Table 2: “Annual Estimates of the Population by Selected Age Groups and Sex for the United States”: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2004 (NC-EST2004-02)
Have you ever wondered what actually happens when you ingest that delicious bit of sugar you have been craving? Here is a TED-Ed video that explains how the reward system works in the brain. This also applies to sugar, other behaviors, and even substances.
There is no doubt that substance abuse and addiction is difficult during every season of the year. Once the rush of the holiday season, balancing work and holiday time off, and a long few days of travel to see friends and family is over; all that is left is getting back to ‘normal’. January is a month full of change and resolutions, so making time to cope with personal hardships (like addiction and substance abuse) is put at the bottom of your to-do list. As February approaches, the usual hustle of preparing for a magical and romantic Valentine’s Day for you and a significant other, spouse, or partner takes priority. This reveals the real question: is there ever time to get help for myself?
Realizing that you are important enough to get help is the first step on your journey to navigate out of the dark path of addiction and substance abuse to a healthier life. The problems associated with addiction and substance abuse seem to start out slowly and pick up speed in what seems like no time at all. Using and abusing substances affects your life, the life of your friends, family members, children, co-workers, and everyone else you interact with on a daily basis. What began as a coping method for stress or an activity during your downtime quickly becomes a lifestyle and the center point of many more problems. To take charge of the cycle of use and abuse of drugs and alcohol is often the hardest part of the recovery and healing process; and takes courage and support. The process of recovery requires resources to get the help that you need in order to control the substances that have a strong grip on your personal life. Mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment are the vital next steps in the process of your recovery. Overall, wanting to live your life as the healthiest and most well person you can be is reason enough to seek help for addictions for the holiday of celebrating love. Loving yourself enough to get help is a magical and romantic thing that can give you back a healthy fresh start to your relationship with yourse
The first word of this compound word says it all “psycho”. No one wants to be associated with something that is strange, difficult to handle, and perhaps the worst of all: a scary, new experience. If you were to ask a friend or family member what psychotherapy is, they would most likely say something about paying a lot of money to talk about problems (and that’s putting it nicely). If you were to ask a counselor or therapist, we would describe it as a chance to be heard, without judgment through the ears and eyes of a professional, in the comfort and safety of a confidential session. The talking part might be easy…or hard depending on how you view your problems. If providing a safe place where clients can talk about whatever it is that is troubling them is the job of the counselor, what is your job as a client in psychotherapy? What do you have to know before you even walk through the door? Most first time clients wonder how we expect you to tell everything that you are thinking and feeling after just meeting.
These are common questions that can be answered. A client simply has to make the appointment with a counselor or therapist and come ready for the experience. Okay…that may seem a bit more intimidating than helpful, but it’s the truth. If you are open to the experience of psychotherapy as something completely different and refreshing you are on the road to understanding what it is and how it works. Before you walk through the door, you should know that you are not alone. Every single person you pass on the street has a past, a story, a journey. That road is paved with troubles, hardships, and bumps that throw off your sense of balance as you walk the road. This is where you have to believe that there are trained professionals ready to help and to listen to you. Why would a counselor want to listen to all of the “bumps” along the way in your life? Because we are trained to provide the safe haven for you to explore the inner workings of what is really going on in your life. There is no façade, just a real and honest experience with another person to ensure that you don’t trip on the bumps of life and walk, silent and hurting, through the rest of life.
If you are working through the bumps in your life and decide that the word psychotherapy is not as scary as facing it on your own…that is what we are here for.