Addiction and Treating The Underlying Causes Of Destructive Behaviour

It is a misconception that addiction is all about the drug. Many people believe that once an addict is clean from a drug the hard part is done and dusted and the process of staying off the drugs is easy. This could not be further from the truth. In most cases for an addict the easiest part is getting clean from his drug of choice and the hard part is staying clean and learning how to live without his drug of choice.

Yes it is true that some addicts struggle with getting physically clean from their drug of choice and depending on the drug the addict may need a medically assisted detox. This can make the process of getting clean tough, however the real hard work begins when the addict is considered sober and then has to face life and reality without drugs.

Addiction and Treating The Underlying Cause Of Destructive Behaviour

Trauma and Addiction

According to studies two thirds of drug addicts that seek treatment report being sexually, physically and/ or emotionally abused during childhood.

When a child is growing up his circumstances and experiences will certainly impact his physical and psychological development. Very often these issues are not resolved during childhood and unless dealt with as part of the addiction recovery process these issues will continue to add to the addict’s self destructive behavior.

There is also a link between PTSD and addiction. About 50 – 60% of people that suffer from PTSD have addiction problems, the reverse is true too where. Anyone that has gone through a very traumatic event, like rape, often suffers from PTSD and/ or other psychological problems.

This much is clear – the relationship between substance abuse and trauma is closely intertwined. Click here to find out more about trauma and addiction treatment.

Childhood abuse alcoholism

Trauma During Addiction

Now while it is clear that trauma and addiction are closely linked showing that trauma may contributing to addictive behaviors there is another side to it. While an addict is in active addiction there are countless more traumatic moments. Some severe and some not so severe but still traumatic.

Addicts are well known for wrecking their own lives and the lives of those that they love. Someone that is normally a calm and loving person yet addicted to drugs, may become aggressive and abusive towards his family.

It is simply not possible for an addictive to have a healthy relationship with anyone. Love relationships will be destructive and toxic and most likely with a partner that is also an addict.

Losing a job, losing a home, getting a divorce and being arrested are all terribly traumatic things to happen to anyone and chances are that if you are an addict you have done every single one of these, often more than once.

Very often an addict has a dual diagnosis which means that he suffers from a mental disorder as well as the addiction. This is hardly surprising since going through so much trauma will inevitably lead to things like anxiety, depression, PTSD and more. Drugs and alcohol can also change the chemistry of the brain to even further complicate matters.

Individual Counselling session

 The Importance Of Dealing With Underlying Issues

Focusing on the causes of destructive behaviors is essential during the process of recovery from addiction. Treating the cause of the destructive behaviors and not just the symptoms will help addicts to achieve and maintain long term recovery.

In order to prevent relapse it is essential for addicts to receive trauma counselling to deal with unresolved issues.

Family therapy is also vitally important to recovery from addiction. Family relations will no doubt have suffered damage during the course of addiction. Very often the addict is not the only person in the family that has suffered from trauma and these family patterns will have destructive effects if they are not addressed during therapy.

Very often family members of the addict are addicts themselves, or codependents that are enabling the addicts behaviour.

The addict needs to not only deal with the underlying issues surrounding his addiction, but also be taught new ways of coping with emotional pain, stress and anxiety that has resulted from trauma but also from every day events, so that he can cope with life in a healthy way when leaving treatment for addiction.

When the addict recognizes and understand the triggers and reasons behind them that drive him to use he can start applying the healthy coping skills learned in treatment to help prevent relapsing. Click here to read more about relapse prevention.

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5 Reasons Why Therapy is Important for Recovery from Addiction

Getting clean from alcohol and drugs is not an easy process, and very often getting off the actual substance is the easiest part. Thereafter the addict or alcoholics behavior and thought processes need to be addressed otherwise the chance of relapse is incredibly high.

There are many ways for an addict or alcoholic to get clean, including attending 12 step meetings (such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gambling Anonymous, Eating Disorders Anonymous), SMART Recovery meetings, church addiction support groups or booking into a rehab.

Receiving addiction therapy in addition to your chosen plan of recovery from addiction is always a good idea. If you have chosen being booked into an addiction treatment facility you will receive therapy while you are there, and very often also attend addiction support groups too.

However when you leave rehab it is a good idea to continue with an addiction therapist.

If you choose to get clean through support groups very often you will have a sponsor that will guide you and help you with your recovery, however it is important to note that while a sponsor is great support, your sponsor is not a professionally trained addiction therapist.

Why Therapy is Important for Recovery from Addiction

Here are 5 reasons why therapy is important for recovery from addiction:

1 Recognize Behavior Patterns and Triggers

Once an addict is clean from mood and mind altering substances there is still a lot of work to do. A trained addiction therapist can help the addict to not only recognize their destructive behavior patterns but also determine what triggers those behaviors in the first place.

Addicts are well known for what is called Stinking Thinking and it is important for an addict to change these thought patterns, which if left will ultimately lead to using.

These thoughts and behaviors are what prevents the addict from leading a healthy and fulfilling life.

2 Healthy Coping Skills

Everyone goes through stress at some stage in their life and an addict will naturally want to cope by using their drug of choice. It is vital for the addict to learn and practice new and healthy coping skills in preparation for when things get tough.

An addiction therapist can help the addict to be more mentally healthy and cope with stressful situations in a healthy way that is not damaging to the addict or anyone else.

3 Dealing With Past Issues

Addicts usually have a lot of past issues that they need to deal with. Very often an addict has grown up with addiction in the family and very often the addict has been a victim of some form of abuse.

There are also lots of addicts that have grown up with a perfectly stable and loving home environment, however while in active addiction may have gone through many traumatic events.

Dealing with past hurt, pain, anger, resentment and humiliation is not easy for anyone to deal with and addicts usually have a lot of these unresolved feelings.

Having a safe space to work through these past issues with a trained specialist will be the most beneficial for the addict.

It is also vitally important that these past issues are dealt with properly, very often the triggers and destructive behavior patterns can be traced back to past issues. If these things are not addressed chances of relapse are much higher.

4 Dual Diagnosis

Addiction is not simple and a dual diagnosis is very common. A dual diagnosis is when someone has a mood disorder such as depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, as well as a problem with alcohol or drugs.

It is important to firstly recognize that there is a mood disorder, but also to have an additional treatment plan for the additional illness.

If a mood disorder is not diagnozed and treated it will keep the addict mentally unhealthy and the chances of the addict staying clean will diminish significantly.

5 Relapse Prevention and Long Term Support

Having regular sessions with an addiction therapist will help an addict to stay mentally healthy and decrease chances of relapse. Going into rehab is a short term solution that very often will get the addict clean, but what will keep the addict clean after leaving treatment?

Old behavior patterns can creep easily creep back and stinking thinking can return which can lead to relapse. In addition to that, if an addict goes through a stressful time it can be risky.

Having an addiction therapist can help an addict through any future rocky periods and help to keep the addict in check if they start to slip.

Addiction doesn’t go away, it can’t be cured, but it can be managed long term. If you had any other life long illness, like diabetes for example, you would have regular check ups at the doctor. Addiction is just the same, it needs to be managed and having a check up every now and then would give you the best chance of staying healthy.


Christy Forrester LMFT LPCC is an addiction therapist in Laguna Hills CA. Christy is also in recovery and endorses a 12- step model. She offers individual, group, and intensive outpatient services


 

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Why Did I Self Harm? The start of my dangerous journey into addiction

Addiction is a very complex and disturbing problem to have but when you think that self harm can be a form of addiction it just adds more confusion. I have often had people ask me why did I self harm. Why am I an addict?

I can only tell you what I felt and thought at the time. I can tell you what went on for me. Some of this may be disturbing to you and upsetting. That is not my goal of this post or this website.

My goals for this website are simple. I want other people that are going through the same thing to realize that they are not alone, they are not crazy. I want them to know that they can heal and they can find happiness no matter how far they have gone. There is hope. May you find it now.

Why did I self harm> The start of my journey into addiction

So Why Did I Self Harm? What brought it on?

This is not a simple story to tell. For as long as I can remember I have always had the belief that I am different, that something is wrong with me. I have felt like there is a hole in me and there has to be something to fill it.

There are some specific incidents that happened just before I started cutting myself but did this make me do it? Is this the reason? No, I don’t think so. I think the black hole that lives within me is the reason I started doing it. The events that happened in my teenage years just sparked my addiction off.

Perhaps I might not have been a self harmer, but I would have turned to addiction at some stage.

The Black Hole Inside of Me

So what is this black hole I speak about?

Well it feels like I am not enough. Yes I did say that correctly, the word is simply “enough”. I was not enough of anything in my mind. I thought one day everyone would know I was a fraud.

I wasn’t clever enough, I was stupid. If I did a test and I did well I didn’t congratulate myself and take the credit. Deep down I was convinced I must have cheated and everyone would find out.

I wasn’t pretty enough. I wasn’t nice enough.

I can’t explain this, but what I do know now and it is a common thing with addicts. We all feel this black hole.

I just wanted people to like me, to love me, but I believed I wasn’t lovable. I believed I didn’t deserve it.

I was self conscious and I was shy. You probably wouldn’t believe it if you saw me, but that is the truth. I hid it by being loud mouthed and out there. I tried to protect myself by making myself out to be someone else. I was soft hearted and sensitive but came across as tough.

Why did I self harm?

Gossip and Lies

Teenage years are rocky for all young adolescents. For me it was terrifying. It seemed I hit 13 years old and the black hole and my insecurities grew bigger. I wanted people to like me. I also started noticing boys and my peers started dating. I wanted to join in, but I was too scared.

I remember clearly there was one boy in particular that was popular and he had the most amazing personality. He clearly showed in interest in me but I was too scared. If he spoke to me I would literally turn and run. Interesting to note that many years down the line, on a drunken night out we bumped into each other in the parking lot of a popular pub and we kissed.

So back to what happened. I was too shy to even hold hands with a boy, but I wanted to. I wanted to do these normal things, but I just couldn’t. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. If I dated a boy he would find out what I was really like and he would hate me. Maybe he would tell everyone I was a fake? It was too much for me.




One day I came home from school and my parents sat me down and asked me about things that they had heard. Some other parents had told them about things they had heard about me. From what my parents told me it appeared I was a big slut, sleeping around and doing all sorts of inappropriate things with boys. Talk about being in shock.

I was 13 years old and it was humiliating. I went to school the next day with my eyes opened. I apparently had a reputation and I was the last to find out. I was hurt and ashamed.

I couldn’t understand. Who had made up these lies, who exactly had heard these lies? How had these lies gotten as far as my parents… and what was a blow job anyway?

This went on for months. I can’t even begin to explain how I felt.

He likes me, he really likes ME!

I turned 14 and things stayed much the same until we went away at the end of the year. While we were away at the end of the year I met a boy. He was a bit older than me and he was cute. Most importantly he couldn’t have heard about my reputation. He liked me and it was exciting. We held hands and later that day he kissed me. I loved that excited feeling in my stomach.

I had to go back to my family and he asked me to sneak out that night, would I? Hell yes, of course I would. This was the best thing that ever happened to me.

In case you are getting a nice gooey feeling about how my life was turning around finally, don’t. Because as fast as I was taken up into that great feeling I was brought crashing down to earth very quickly.

I snuck out that night and he raped me. He left me crying and bleeding in the middle of the night. I had my first kiss and lost my virginity in the same day.

I was crushed, hurt and humiliated.




To top it off I was busted sneaking out before I could tell anyone what had happened to me. I thought if I said anything then that they would think I was lying and just trying to get out of being in trouble. I kept it all to myself. I should have spoken to my parents because I was wrong. My parents are amazing and would have helped me. Instead I kept quiet and a while later I tried to talk to my little sister, she was twelve years old at the time and didn’t understand what I was trying to say.

We were very close and she was getting distressed. She knew I was trying to tell her something important but she didn’t get it. I left it because I didn’t want her upset.

I withdrew a lot and I was very angry.

Here we go again!

A few months later I was raped again. I won’t go into details about what happened because this is not just only my story and I don’t want to make anyone else feel guilty or like they are responsible. That is not the point of my story, this is about something else.

What happened is that this second rape was like a switch went off in me. I turned into a very angry and rebellious person. Yes I was always a little bit naughty, I won’t deny it.. but this is when I changed completely.

I could feel anger inside me all the time, just ready to explode out of me. It scared me. I started treating my mom really badly. For some reason I decided she was the one I was angry with and she bore the brunt of my anger and actions.

I am sorry mom. I love you with all my heart. I didn’t mean to do that, it was just the way it happened.

I Started Cutting Myself

At the same as I became a bubble of anger I started cutting myself. I remember the first time I did it. I was so confused and I didn’t know what I was doing. I had never heard of self harm and I didn’t know why I was doing it.

I found a blade at home and I held it against my skin and I pushed it in. At that moment I felt nothing. I felt free. It was like bliss. As long as I had that blade in my skin I didn’t feel hurt or angry or ashamed. It was like I was taken out of my own body and held in a safe little cocoon of nothingness.

I did it a few times and each time I cut I felt better, but then afterwards I would feel ashamed and confused.

Soon after I started with self harm my mom saw blood on my school shirt, she saw what I was doing and wanted to know why. I wanted to give in to my feelings and cry, tell her everything.

Ask her to please, please save me mommy. I didn’t though. I screamed at her and told her to leave me alone.

My mom was in a place where she was too scared to confront me about anything because she was too scared of my reaction. She felt I could have done anything and I think she was right, I was out of control. She knew something was wrong but didn’t know what or how to help me and of course I just pushed her away.

On the good side I did stop cutting, well on a regular basis that is. There were a few odd times over the years that I did cut myself again but it was not a regular thing.

That doesn’t mean the problem was just gone though. My addiction just changed it’s face which I will share about in future posts.

Over the years the rapes I went through and my relationships with men formed big problems in my life. This will become apparent the more I share with you.

So Buckle Up, I plan to take you on quite a dark ride on this website and this was the start…..

If you have anything you would like to share please leave a comment.

 

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Addiction Treatment for Recovery: The Start of my Journey

The start of my addiction treatment for recovery was a 3 week stay in a psychiatric ward.

I was still in denial and didn’t have a clue how much trouble I was in. I had blue eyes and a broken nose when I arrived there, compliments of an abusive relationship. I was covered in bruises. I believed I was a victim and had done nothing to deserve where I was in life.

Every addict will lay the blame an anything and everything but herself or himself. If we are in denial we can continue using. We can also blot out everything shameful we have done or been through by using more. And so the cycle continues…

Addiction Treatment for Recovery

Denial

During my stay there I was allowed out for a walk, giving me the perfect opportunity to find my dealer and acquire 2 grams of cocaine. On my return the staff saw immediately something was not right and tested me immediately. They considered kicking me out, but for some reason let me stay. They did make me go to my first 12 Step meeting the following day at the adjoining Addiction Clinc.

I went to the meeting and announced that I was in fact not an addict but the staff at the psychiatric ward thought I might be so I had to come join in. Sound crazy enough to you? Of course it is, I was completely delusional. What sane person leaves a psychiatric ward, takes drugs and comes back an hour later thinking this is normal?

Manipulation

On leaving the clinic I was advised by my psychiatrist to not have any mood or mind altering substances for the next 3 months. Looking back it is clear they were aware I had a serious problem. I considered this advice, to take or not to take as it pleases me. I didn’t use anything for a few days, which to me was hard core proof I didn’t have a problem. A few weeks later I managed to embarrass myself in public by getting so drunk I vomited and then fell out of a truck into my own vomit. I won’t go into too much detail on how that happened, you can use your imagination or you can read about that story and a good few more in my ebook.

Now having blue eyes and a broken nose once again did not sit well with my family that were concerned about me. They wanted me to go for addiction treatment. Once again I couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was about. I managed to convince them that I could get by with an outpatient program instead of being booked in anywhere.

This didn’t work very well for me. I continued to use and I failed every drug test. By the 3rd drug test I came to realise that I was on the verge of being kicked off the program and my family would not be pleased. Instead of telling my family I had been using I told them I was “struggling” and wanted to move out of my parents home into tertiary care, which is a home of safety. Then I told the clinic where I was doing the outpatient program that I was moving to a house of safety and could they please let me continue the program.

They allowed this and I am not sure how I managed to complete this program. I think a miscommunication between the 2 facilities must have occurred because I continued to use and neither facility tested me again.

Now I found myself living in a house of safety and trying to hide my using, not an easy task! One night I overdid, as of course I would. It was 20 minutes before our curfew when I had to be home. I was so drunk I could barely walk and high on cocaine. There was just no way I would be able to pull that off. Instead I texted the manager and told him I had “relapsed” and would contact them in the morning.

At this time I still had no concern about getting clean, it was all about manipulating everyone to leave me alone so I could continue using. I wasn’t an addict! I was just going through a wild phase right? You know, like every normal person does at some stage. The fact that this “wild phase” was going on for about 15 years didn’t really occur to me.

I had to try and get myself out of this mess without my family writing me off. I called my parents and the owner of the house of safety and said I was “ready to get clean, what must I do?”. I thought perhaps acting like I would do whatever needed to be done and following their instructions (for a little while at least) would get me some breathing space while I figured out what to do.

I was told to go into Secondary Care treatment. I happily collected my bags and off I went. Only upon signing the contract upon arrival did I get the shock of my life realizing it was a minimum 3 month stay. What happened to the 28 days thing I had heard about? Oh well, I had to do it because I didn’t really have much choice did I?

Walking the Walk & Talking the Talk

My plan at this stage was to do the recovery act for the 3 months, make it out the other side and then carry on with my life as I felt fit. For about a month I did just this. I shared in groups, I went to AA meetings and I did everything asked of me. I said what I thought they wanted to hear and I followed every suggestion. Not because I wanted to get clean, but because I honestly believed there truly was some big mistake. This wasn’t the place for me, I was misunderstood.

Slowly things must have started to sink in. All that therapy, all those groups and meetings…

Breaking through the Denial

About 6 weeks into treatment I was sitting writing an assignment and I realized a few things:

  • I am an addict!
  • I want to be clean
  • I have a Higher Power and it is working in my life
  • I have been working this program (for a little while at least, certainly not from the start)
  • I feel good, not great but good

What confused me is that I can’t pinpoint the moment something in me had changed. I realised at that moment that I knew I was an addict, but it is not a realization I had that second. I had known it for a while. When did it change?

Where did this Higher Power come from, what is it and how can I believe in God when I am not religious?

What on earth happened?

I have been clean since 02 August 2008 when I arrived at the Secondary Care rehab. I have never touched another mood or mind altering substance and that is a miracle.

I really believe that being in treatment for those 6 weeks, having recovery shoved down my throat made the change happen in me. Without that I doubt anything could have saved me. It might sound crazy but I actually enjoyed rehab, it was the first time in many years I did something for myself, something I could be proud of.

If you are an addict or alcoholic in active addiction, please do yourself a favour and book yourself in for treatment. It can be the life-changing event you need to save your life.

I am sure every addict is scared of treatment but it can be a wonderful experience. I will share more in-depth at some stage about my experiences in treatment.

I hope you enjoyed reading this and got something of value from it, please leave a comment below!

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