The term “addiction” generally evokes images of alcoholics, gamblers, workaholics knocking themselves down with ceaseless activity, or people glued to the screen of their smartphone. However, there are thousands of shades of grey. We can become addicted to anything because each of us has unique tendencies and inclinations, and unique methods of coping with challenging situations. Coping is precisely what an addiction helps us do - cope with the inner discomfort caused by an experience we perceive as negative. Addiction can be defined as any behaviour that we engage in, despite the overwhelming negative consequences. It is important to understand that addiction is not a problem but a symptom, and the treatment should reflect this fact. At the root of many, if not all addictions there’s an emotional injury which we suffered, usually in the past, and our adaptive emotional system attempted to guard this injury with layers of protection to keep us “safe”. These layers are composed of patterns of behavioural reactions and beliefs which build up to cushion the painful emotional response and steer us from encountering painful experiences, disconnecting us from our feelings so we do not get hurt again. Coping is a “survival tool” that allows us to encounter threatening situations and still function normally. However, when we do not release ourselves from the coping mechanism we originally used to fight the threat, and when the emotional damage that the threat caused is left unresolved, coping mechanisms can become detrimental to our survival, rather than a survival tool. It is important to revisit these damaged areas 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. Even though it can be highly intimidating to review such emotional events, doing the work around damaged areas in necessary in order to free ourselves from past conditioning.

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Addictions are overt manifestations of inner trauma and emotional distress. They are a coping mechanism that our bodies initially recognized as beneficial since our addiction helped shield ourselves from feeling our pain. However, when these inner struggles go untreated and coping through addiction is continued, it is 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 may begin to work together to enact healing surrounding the issues so that coping through addiction is no longer necessary.

What are the benefits of working with a therapist?

Working in tandem with a psychotherapist can be a life-changing experience that can help free ourselves from the burdens of the past that continue to interfere with our current life. A trained psychotherapist will aid us in examining issues from our past and present and peel back the layers we have built up around certain events we have encountered. They help us uncover issues that have been tucked away 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, so that we may see the original event in a new light and with a clearer understanding of the situation. 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 new and 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 our therapist provides a safe space for us to integrate the new insights and to establish improved and healthy habits in place of the addictive ones. The process of uncovering these painful events may be challenging and may stir up strong emotions, however, it is necessary to process past traumas and to interrupt unhealthy patterns that our mind has relied on to shield against the traumatic experiences of the past. We are then able to see how these patterns were useful in the past and how they were protecting us from more trauma. We’re also able to see the redundancy of these patterns in our present situation, and how they actually distort our experience of ourselves and the world. With the compassionate and solution-focused guidance from a therapist, we can let go of these thought patterns causing subconscious reactions leading to harmful behaviour, and we can introduce a new way of reacting to situations that would have previously triggered an addictive response. Classic talk therapy may be very beneficial for addiction treatment, as well as Cognitive behavioural therapy and other approaches. Your therapist may choose one method or a combination of methods to find the cause of our issues and offer efficient solutions.

Substance Abuse Disorders can manifest due to a variety of factors including genetics, childhood trauma, and other psychiatric disorders. Those who suffer from Substance Abuse Disorders may begin by using a mind-altering substance as a coping mechanism against stress; they may also be attempting to self-medicate the symptoms of another mental illness. Sometimes, the decision to experiment is based in simple curiosity. But however it 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, damaged family and community relationships, legal troubles, and an increasing amount of emotional distress. This decline may be rapid and dramatic, or it may manifest insidiously over the years.

Although it is true that drug and alcohol problems often start in adolescence, SUBSTANCE ABUSE DISORDERS can affect anyone at any point during the course of their lives. Addiction crosses all barriers of age, race, class and gender. Contrary to popular opinion, one does not need to be physically addicted to a mind-altering substance in order to have a Substance Abuse Disorder. Sufferers of this disorder may abuse nicotine, marijuana, prescription medication, designer drugs such as MDMA a.k.a. “Ecstasy”, hallucinogens, and “hard” drugs such as cocaine or heroin. Those who suffer from this devastating illness are often incapable of stopping on their own. For this reason, it is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Roy Psychotherapy’s addiction specialists have successfully treated residents for over a decade. In addition to private treatment for individuals with SAD, Roy Psychotherapy also provides counseling 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 is vital 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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