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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