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Addiction can be defined as any behaviour that we engage in, despite the overwhelming negative consequences. Further, it's important to understand that addiction is not a problem but a symptom, and the treatment should reflect this. In fact, addiction can be described as a maladaptive form of coping, helping us ease our inner discomfort caused by an experience perceived as negative. At the root of many addictions is an emotional injury which we evolved to guard so we don't have to feel it. The guard we put up is often composed of patterns of behaviours and beliefs which cushion the painful emotions below, disconnecting us from our feelings. Coping is a “survival tool” that allows us to encounter threatening situations and still function normally. However, maladaptive coping mechanisms, such as addiction, become detrimental to our survival, rather than a survival tool. It's important to revisit these emotions and do the work necessary to address the issue, even if that means feeling the emotions our body and mind have tried so hard to bury.

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Addictions are overt manifestations of inner trauma and emotional distress. They're a coping mechanism that our bodies initially recognized as beneficial, helping us shield ourselves from feeling pain. However, when these inner struggles go untreated and coping through addiction is continued, it's inevitably detrimental to our health and survival. Our bodies find things in our environment such as substances or other outlets that allow us to numb the pain that continues to cause us distress, long after the threat is gone. By working with a trained psychotherapist, the root cause of an addiction can be addressed. Once the issue is brought to light, you and a therapist can work together heal the issue so that coping through addiction is no longer necessary.


Where do addictions start?

Often times, we carry traumatic experiences with us from childhood and it’s a child’s limited understanding and interpretation of the event that creates the pain. Being conscious that we’re now an adult with a different and mature way of seeing and understanding the world, we’re able to revisit and re-evaluate the situation that caused the pain. A corrected understanding of this situation then allows us to dissolve the trauma and the very reason for the addictive behaviour. By offering gentle and sensitive guidance through this process, therapists provide a safe space for us to integrate new insights and to establish healthy habits in place of the addictive ones. The process of uncovering these painful events may be challenging and stir up strong emotions, however, it's necessary to process past traumas. We can then see how these patterns were useful in the past and how they once protected us, but are no longer useful.

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Substance abuse disorders can manifest due to a variety of factors including genetics, experiences, and other psychiatric disorders. Those who suffer from substance abuse disorder may begin by using a substance as a coping mechanism, or in an attempt to self-medicate the symptoms of another mental illness. Sometimes, the decision to experiment is based in simple curiosity. However addiction starts, the drug use eventually develops into an obsessive, all-consuming need. Gradually, those who suffer from this disorder will experience a decline in school or work performance, experience damaged family and community relationships, run into legal troubles, and face an increasing amount of emotional distress. This decline may be rapid and dramatic, or it may manifest insidiously over the years.

Although it's true that drug and alcohol problems often start in adolescence, substance abuse disorders can affect anyone at any point during their lives. Addiction crosses all barriers of age, race, class and gender. Those who suffer from this devastating illness are often incapable of stopping on their own. For this reason, it's essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Perhaps the most important characteristic of this disorder is that so much of one's energy, time, and mental resources go to seeking and obtaining their addictive substance or behaviour that it comes at the sacrifice of everything else - life, relationships, work, and more.


What are the benefits of working with a therapist?

With the compassionate and solution-focused guidance from a therapist, we can let go of addictive behaviour, and we can introduce a new way of reacting to triggering situations. Classic talk therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and other approaches may be very beneficial for addiction treatment. Your therapist may choose one method or a combination of methods to find the cause of our issues and offer efficient solutions.

Working in tandem with a psychotherapist can be a life-changing experience, freeing us from the burdens of the past that continue to interfere with our current life. A trained psychotherapist will help us uncover buried issues and help us re-examined and release these issues in a non-judgemental and safe space that a therapist’s office offers. A therapist works as a “detective”, tracing back the steps to the painful experience that lies underneath the addictive behaviour.

Roy Psychotherapy’s addiction specialists have successfully treated residents for over a decade. In addition to private treatment for individuals with substance abuse disorder, Roy Psychotherapy also provides counselling for affected families and offers combined treatment with various recovery facilities on a case by case basis. If either yourself or a loved one have been affected by this disorder, it's imperative that you seek treatment immediately. The sooner substance abuse disorders are addressed, the greater the chance of recovery. Call Roy Psychotherapy today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our intake specialists.

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