Does Counseling Help with Addiction?

Addiction is not an easy thing to beat. Actually, it can be the most difficult thing you ever have to do. Addiction does not play by the rules like you have to do. Your addiction will lie to you and make you believe that what you are doing is good for you even as it is ruining your life. It does not even matter what it is you are addicted to because no matter what it is, it will be incredibly hard to beat, but it is possible. You can do it. Many people who also thought they could never do it have done it before. You can do it too! Those who have never been addicted to anything think it is easy. Some people may say, “why don’t you just stop?” or “I would never do that” but they have no idea what it is really like unless they have been there.

Does Counseling Help With Addiction

Addiction or Abuse?

Drug addiction and abuse are two of the most common mental health problems in Americans. In fact, there are over 20 million adults in the United States who suffer with one of these addictions. Everyone has heard of drug addiction and abuse, but are they the same thing? According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the difference is the number of diagnostic criteria the person has. For example, you are addicted if you have at least three of the seven signs of drug addiction. However, the DSM uses the term dependence rather than addiction. These criteria include:

  • Consuming more of the substance
  • Continuing to use the substance even if it causes issues with school, business, personal life
  • Giving up other interests such as social life, job, and daily activities
  • Spending too much time looking for or trying to get the substance
  • Tolerance (needing more and more to get the same effect)
  • Trying to quit using without being able to
  • Withdrawal (varies depending on the drug)
    • Feeling aggravated
    • Anxiety and stress
    • Depression
    • Hallucinations
    • Nausea and vomiting

Substance Abuse

What exactly is substance abuse then? If the person has at least one, but less than three, of the above criteria, that would be considered substance abuse. With abuse, it is more of an occasional type of drug or alcohol use. For instance, those who abuse alcohol may only drink once or twice a month, but when it happens, they do not know when to stop. With addiction, the problem is continuous and the person is always looking for their next drink (or drug).

Hands on wooden heart

What Addiction Really Means

There have been many experts who believe that addicts have addictive behaviors, so when they try to quit, they will most often just trade one addiction for another. For instance, an alcoholic may quit drinking alcohol but start taking another drug or a smoker may trade nicotine for food. In truth, those with addictive personalities typically will have more than one addiction. For example, some who are addicted to gambling are also addicted to alcohol and those addicted to cigarettes will often drink alcohol as well. This issue is not only applicable to illegal or dangerous substances either. People have become addicted to anything from shopping to video games or even food. Anything that a person does repeatedly and becomes a compulsion can become an addiction. In the same way, addictive behaviors are repeating an activity because it makes the addict feel good. It certainly does not have to be a bad thing, like drugs. In fact, some addictions are good. How do you know the difference? A bad addiction takes away from your life and a good addiction adds to your life.

Some Tips That May Help

Once you realize you have an addiction, it is time to talk to a professional and find out if your addiction is good or bad. Then, if necessary, you can find out how to fix the problem. A therapist or counselor can help you decide what you need to work on. You can also use some of these tips to help you figure out the issue:

  • Accept That There Is No Cure: That’s right, there is no magic pill that can cure your addiction. There is no magic addiction fairy who can wave a magic wand and stop those cravings and urges you may be feeling. Addiction is a disease you will have to deal with your entire life. You cannot just say, “I used to be an addict” because you still are and will always be an addict. You are a recovering addict because you still have that little voice inside you telling you that it is okay to drink that beer or use that drug. Addiction is like a dormant cancer cell inside your body that will stay dormant until you feed it.
  • Get it Out of the House: No matter what it is you are addicted to, get it out of your house. Of course, if it is food that you are addicted to, you cannot get rid of all the food. However, you can get rid of those foods that are most tempting for you such as chocolate, pizza, ravioli, and donuts.
  • Have a Support System: It could be your family, friends, co-workers, or even the members of your AA or NA meetings. You need to have someone to call if you are feeling stressed or if you feel like you want to drink/smoke/gamble/etc. Without a support system, it is harder to stay on track. You can do it, but you will be much more successful if you have someone to back you up when you need it.
  • Talk to Your Doctor: Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor what you are doing and ask for some help. Antidepressants such as bupropion (Wellbutrin) and fluoxetine (Prozac) are two that help curb the cravings and take the edge off the anxiety.
  • Write Down the Pros and Cons: Take a few minutes to write down the pros and cons of beating your addiction. For example, you may put your family and your health in the pros column and job loss and relationship troubles in the cons column.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to let your psychologist know about it because he or she will surely have some tips for you. Your doctor can help you as well, but, the best thing to do is speak to a mental health professional right away. They will help you begin to understand your addiction. The more you understand, the easier it will be to fight and win.

Pensive woman

Could You Be Addicted?

Although you need a professional to answer that question, there are a few things you can ask yourself if you think you may have a problem:

  • Are you missing days or showing up late at work due to using the substance?
  • Are you using the substance while doing things you used to do sober such as hanging out with friends or watching television?
  • Do you find yourself thinking about the substance during the day?
  • Do you go out of your way to find or use the substance?
  • Has using the substance caused any problems with friends or family?
  • Has using the substance caused you to make mistakes at work or school?
  • Have you had any legal problems due to your substance use?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you definitely should talk to a counselor or your physician. No matter what, you need to get treatment before it becomes a bigger problem than you can handle. Sites like BetterHelp can help you find the right person and you do not even have to leave the house. Don’t wait until it causes you serious trouble. You can talk to someone today and start to feel better.


Marie MiguelAbout The Author

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.


 

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How Secondary Gain Fuels Alcoholism

While you may not know it by this name, secondary gain exists in alcoholism, whether we like it or not. Secondary gain plays a huge role in addiction, and, can be a significant contributor to denial and likelihood of relapse once sober.

Simply put, secondary gain equates to: what specifically alcohol is achieving for you, personally, as a “side-benefit”. If they go unchecked, these side-benefits can later morph into the main reasons we’re using alcohol at all.

But, there are ways to understand these underlying factors in our addictions, and undo the damage done. Let’s take a look.

While denial exists to protect our access to the coping mechanism called alcohol; secondary gain is more like – “what benefits am I getting from alcohol, that I may not have thought of?”….and what issues do those point me to?

How Secondary Gain Fuels Alcoholism

Consider the key questions:

  • How has alcohol served me?
  • How has alcohol not served me?

What has alcohol helped me do? What feelings does it help me achieve, that I’m unable to achieve  in other ways? What situations does it help me cope with, and what feelings am I running from, in those scenarios?

I could be drinking because…

  • When I have a drink, I feel “more worthy” or “good enough” again.
  • When I have a drink, I feel more important or respected
  • Or, when I have a drink, I feel more lovable, accepted…. or like “what I say matters”.

At one point in our lives, having a drink was ONE way to cope, but for the alcoholic in us, it quickly became the ONLY means to cope, because of these secondary benefits it gave us.

So we’ve learned over time, a survival strategy belief, for instance:

  • “the way to feel good enough again, is to drink”
  • “the way to feel worthy again, even in the face of outside stressors, is to have a drink”
  • “the way to feel like I matter again, is alcohol”
  • “the way to feel competent again, is to drink”

It’s clear therefore, that we’re using alcohol as a means to quell the underlying self-esteem beliefs, like “I’m not good enough”, “I’m not worthy”, “I’m not important”, or “I’m not acceptable”.

Do you recognise these underlying themes in yourself? In your behaviours when stressed?

Now, if we address these underlying core beliefs, therapeutically, (instead of with alcohol) is it clear  to you that there would be much less need to even turn to a coping mechanism at all?

These are the core elements of self – the highly individual, person-centered elements, that we must understand about ourselves, beyond the group support mechanisms such as A/A, N/A, mutual aid support, etc. Often these are discovered and explored in private rehab settings, such as the folks over at alcohol rehab Scotland.

These elements of secondary gain are the underlying drivers behind the addiction – that sit underneath the addiction. It is the fear of these underlying issues surfacing, untempered, that then drives the patterns of denial, and keeps us in the cycle of addiction, without ever truly understanding *why* we feel the way they do.

Bar Counter

So…How to break the cycle of alcoholism using this understanding?

  • Using the questions above, take the time to consider what secondary advantages alcohol could be giving (or have given you previously) in your life
  • To help this along, try to identify common patterns in your trigger situations, “I always turn to alcohol in _____ situation;” “I always feel like a drink when ____ happens”. What might you be trying to avoid, or gain, in these situations?
  • What feelings does alcohol bring to the fore in these situations, that weren’t there before? What does alcohol help you feel in these situations?
  • When you *do* have a drink, what does it make you/get you/get for you?
  • Now consider the mirror opposite – e.g. when you’re tempted to drink, and you don’t drink, what feelings surface at that point, that weren’t there before?
  • Now using your answers from the above, fill in the blanks: “What makes me ________ is drinking alcohol”; and “The way to feel _________ is to drink alcohol”
  • Usually, the blanks in the above are your core issues and core beliefs which need attention, to change the pattern of the addiction in your life.
  • Finally….stop blaming yourself for the small relapses – but instead – use them to help you truly know yourself, and your addiction, better. Examine what led to the binge or relapse, what you were trying to cope with at the time – and understand that these moments point you to the underlying issues – and as such – are a huge help in overcoming alcoholism in the longer term.

Often times the issues revealed from this exercise are deep core issues, self-esteem blocks, or specific traumas from the past, that need professional mental health assistance.

Just as in our step work, they require us to face our issues directly, accept responsibility for them, and accept that we have a human tendency to choose a negative behaviour over a positive one, whilst in the darker clutches of addiction.

But moving through these issues, getting the third-party help and fellowship we need, and making consistent progress, no matter how little, will ultimately result in us simply no longer needing the coping mechanism we once did….because the underlying truth has been faced.

Now, let’s be realistic, there’s much more to maintaining abstinence and long term recovery than just these issues….but, when we add this self discovery to the bigger picture of mutual aid support, sponsorship, and other mental health care tailored to individual needs – then recovery can feel much more realistic, and one degree more achievable. And that can make all the difference.

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The Long Road to Opiate Addiction Recovery

Opiate addiction is a dangerous disease that results in tremendous damage to individuals, families, and communities across the nation and around the world. This disease has become so devastating that it has reached epidemic proportions. However, there are treatment options available that can allow sufferers to retake control of their lives and end their opiate abuse. The road to opiate addiction recovery is a long one but one that could save your life.

Opiate addiction recovery pin

The First Steps

The first thing that must be done to recover from opiate addiction is to stop using opiates. This one thing that is easier said than done. Stopping opiate use after becoming addicted is incredibly difficult and may even be dangerous due to intense withdrawal symptoms associated with it. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Insomnia and depression
  • Powerful drug cravings

These symptoms are extremely unpleasant and may even be dangerous without medical supervision. It is for this reason, it you should seek help. The best place to get help recovering from an addiction to opiates is a treatment center.

How Treatment Centers Help Recovering Addicts

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, every person and addiction is different, requiring professional evaluation and personalized treatment in order to overcome a substance use disorder. Certified opiate addiction treatment centers have the personnel and resources necessary to perform this function. They have a number of different treatment options to help addicts, but what is most important is that the addict receives treatment.




Proven Treatments for Opiate Addiction

While there are many different treatment options for recovering opiate addicts, it is essential that they are proven to be effective. At this time, only behavioral therapies, counseling, and medications have proven effective in ending opiate abuse over the long term. Common behavioral therapies and counseling techniques used are:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Aversion therapy
  • Contingency management
  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Family counseling

All of these techniques are commonly used and have been proven effective, particularly when combined with certain medications.

Recovery from opiate addiction

The Role of Medications

Medications are incredibly helpful tools in recovering from opiate addiction. However, it is important to understand that medications alone are not treatment. They are only effective when used in combination with behavioral therapies or counseling. Common medications used include:

  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Suboxone
  • Naloxone
  • Naltrexone

When used with behavioral therapies and counseling, these medications can help recovering addicts get and stay opiate free.

Aftercare and Continuing Recovery

It is important to remember that no matter what treatments are used, no opiate addict can ever be truly cured. Opiate addiction is a chronic disease and must be managed for the remainder of the sufferer’s life. This does not mean that these recovering addicts cannot get off opiates and remain drug free.  It does mean that opiate addiction recovery is an ongoing process and takes time and effort. There is always the possibility of relapse which makes building a recovery support network and a relationship with a treatment center vital.

Having access to further treatment to help you remain drug free are essential parts of ensuring a drug free existence. Though it is a long and difficult road, it is possible to overcome an addiction to opiates and live a normal life.

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Using Fear To Overcome Addiction

We humans are complex creatures, to say the least.

We might have feelings of sadness, joy, hopelessness, inspiration, and depression, potentially all on the same day. Learning how to cope with our feelings about daily life and addiction is key to overcoming the many obstacles in our path.




For example, an argument with a spouse may bring feelings of frustration and lead to despair. When we dwell on these types of feelings, we become more vulnerable to making choices with negative consequences. The stimulus was probably not that big of a deal.

The argument might have been (and probably was) about something trivial. Something that you both would forget about quickly. But once you let it bother you, your mind automatically looks for some kind of relief.

That relief comes in the form of giving into your addiction, more times than not.

There was a study done on smokers that highlights an important aspect of how we view our addiction. In a poll, the most common response to a question about smoking was that lighting up a “cigarette calmed them down”.

But did it?

Using Fear To Overcome Addiction social

It turns out that those who suffer from a smoking addiction are constantly being harassed on the inside, not being able to concentrate or control their nerves, until they get to smoke. The act of smoking didn’t have the effect they thought it did at all.

It’s like if you were at a basketball game but was on the bench the whole time. You want desperately to get into the game! You’re antsy and irritable because obviously the only joy you get is by actually playing. The coach finally puts you in, but has you tie one hand behind your back. But hey, at least you’re playing, right?

This is the way smoking affects your perception. The times when you feel like you’re getting a “calm down” are actually the times when your hands are tied. You’re not better off than before, in fact you’re still worse off than normal, but because you feel a little bit better about the given action, your mind alters reality.

It’s a harrowing thought.

Any addiction can affect us in similar ways. Alcohol has had a crippling affect on the human race over the past century. Don’t worry, I’m not advocating for any bans or prohibition, but let’s just think about it for a minute.

How many relationships have been ruined by alcohol?

How many sexual assaults have there been where alcohol is involved?

How many children have been left destitute because of the DUI charge of a parent?

This is a beverage, people.

But it’s much more than that. It has the power to dull our senses and affect the way we act. It has the power to help us forget the hard times. It might help us sleep.

So here’s the idea: Instead of using Inspiration as a conduit for change, how about using fear?

Many people see fear as the enemy, something that grips us tight, something we can’t escape. They see it as something innate, like we were born with it and will die with it too. This can’t be any further from the truth, though.

For example, the fear of public speaking is one of the most common phobias in the country year after year. It makes us nervous, embarrassed, and even sick to our stomachs at times. But can your same logic that fear is ingrained in us be mitigated by the fact that thousands of people every year work on it, change, and master the art of speaking in front of a group? If their fear can motivate them to change, perhaps yours can too.




And that’s the key.

Use fear to motivate you instead of stifle your growth. Let me provide a disclaimer here, though. If you deal with severe depression, anxiety, or have other factors involved, this may not be the approach for you. Make sure to consult a rehabilitative specialist or counselor before going about these tactics.

When it comes to addiction, we miss out on a lot of things.

Write them down:

  • Time with spouse
  • Money saved by spending it on addiction
  • Playing sports or participating in other hobbies
  • Health
  • Spending time with your kids

In the case of alcohol, think of the consequences of getting in your car when you aren’t fully able to focus on the road. The fear of bodily harm in a car accident can be a powerful motivator to call a friend, get help, and work towards not having the drink in the first place.

Addictions can take many different forms, as indicated by the horrific show on TLC, “My Strange Addiction”. The problem with this type of programming is it highlights the dependence aspect, but doesn’t show all the effects in real life. It’s only  It’s almost like it gives license to mock the trials of others when maybe we have a problem ourselves, just a different one.

As you think of the negative consequences of having an addiction, let the fears of continuing it  propel you to acceptance and freedom by starting the road to recovery.

Fear can be a good thing.

Remember that.

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