THE PROCESS OF ADDICTION COUNSELLING

Addictions can occur to any person at any point in their life. Traditionally people think of addiction as a dependency on alcohol, substances or drugs, but this is really a very narrow way to look at the issue. Addiction, by definition, is continuing to engage in behaviours that have negative consequences and repercussions for the individual. Addictions, under this definition, can involve any repetitive behaviour that is destructive or has negative consequences.

Addictions may involve sex, viewing pornography, eating, gambling, being online, shopping or even addictions to relationships. Even very normally healthy behaviours such as work or exercise can be carried to a level that becomes destructive. People that engage in addictive behaviours typically understand that the behaviour is destructive and they attempt to minimise, rationalise or hide the behaviour from friends and family.

THE OPTIMAL PROCESS

Addiction counselling is considered the most effective way to allow the addicted person to accept the addictive behaviour and make changes in their live to avoid this behaviour in the future. It typically involves understanding the root issues that led to the addiction and also planning a life in the future that is free from addiction.

The most successful treatments will be customised to meet the needs of each individual client. Usually clients will start with individual counselling and move to group sessions as part of their treatment. Talking through potential problems and having a cohort group that shares the reality of an addiction is both cathartic as well as educational.

While individualised, the most successful processes in addiction recovery follow a set of steps or processes. This is most commonly known as the Twelve Step programme that was developed in the later part of the 1930s. These steps start with acknowledging the addiction and move through to committing to support others with addictions and using the steps in each day of a sober life.

For many individuals the addiction may be the visible sign of another mental health issue that needs to be treated. Many clients with addictions have longstanding issues with depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, or the more Generalised Anxiety Disorder. For these individuals the addiction may have been a coping mechanism and a process of self-medication. Diagnosing and treating that underlying mental health issue will be instrumental in the addiction recovery plan.

TEAM APPROACH

With the complexity of addictions and the multitude of underlying factors a team approach to treatment and developing an addiction recovery plan is critical. The team will include a range of different professionals based on the needs of the individual.

Typically on an addiction recovery team there will be a psychotherapist, psychiatrist, nutritionist and an addiction recovery specialist. The team, in consultation with the client, will develop and evaluate the treatment plan at key points in the process.

Addiction recovery and ongoing sobriety is not a quick fix treatment. Many people that have addiction problems continue to work with therapists, addiction recovery specialists and support groups throughout their life.

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