When is it time to seek therapy for addiction for yourself or a loved one?
The simple answer is – any time you question if therapy may be helpful, then it’s time. It’s important to know that addiction is rarely a one-sided issue, so therapy is a great place to start – or to help move along a path of recovery that has already begun.
Do you ever find that…
Work and relationships are in jeopardy because the using or behaviors are out of control?
You’re constantly justifying your behaviors to yourself and others – and rationalizing and planning your actions has become time-consuming?
You’ve lost trust in yourself and others have lost trust in you, and you can’t seem to find your way back despite your best efforts?
You’re caught in a catch-22 shame spiral where you use to cope with the shame you have from using?
And if your loved one is the addict, you may often wonder…
How to help them – to stop enabling while still showing love.
How to offer help and be supportive without being controlling or too judgmental.
How to have a relationship and healthy boundaries when they are still actively using.
Why they seem so intent on continuing down this detrimental and destructive path despite the obvious drawbacks!?
Are gaming and shopping addictions the same as drug addictions?
We often hear “All my son/partner wants to do is play video games above all else. He’s up all night, doesn’t leave the house, and doesn’t engage with anyone except the online gamers! What is going on!?”
We call these “process behavior addictions” and they signal the brain with dopamine spikes just like substances do. These process behaviors are used as coping mechanisms to make us feel better about something we’re avoiding. Process addictions can include things like shopping, working, exercise, gambling, gaming, sex, porn, social media, self-harm, controlled eating, codependency, perfectionism, high-risk behaviors, and more!
But, isn’t engaging in drug use and addictive activities a choice?
Well… it’s a choice until it isn’t. Some of us may buy things to make us feel better, which is certainly a choice, but if we do that often enough each time we feel down, it can become a compulsion that has negative side effects like not being able to afford rent. The same as drinking on the weekends to let loose from the hectic workweek starts as a choice, but after a while, it becomes a habitual means of relaxing – and after time, your brain begins to equate “the only way to relax is to drink.” Once that change happens in the brain, which is easier than one might think, then the activity is considered more of a basic need versus something optional.
OK, so when is counseling good for addiction and recovery versus rehab programs?
Depending on the level of severity and the substance in question, a medical detox center may be required at the beginning of treatment. Also, sometimes, a more intensive form of higher-level care is needed because the individual demands more frequent interventions – this can be useful for some process behaviors such as self-harm and eating disorders, in addition to severe substance addictions.
Most addiction treatment programs are group-based with some one-on-one counseling intermixed, whereas private therapy is always one-on-one – or with family/partners as needed. Many of the inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities won’t allow for the partners or family members to participate – and addiction is often something that affects the whole household. If we’re not treating the whole family, it’s harder to achieve success.
How does mental health therapy work to treat addiction?
Most people seek therapy to treat a “main issue”, but therapy is effective because it doesn’t just treat the symptom, but also the cause(s). So, therapy isn’t about directing someone to rely on willpower to stay away from their drug of choice, it’s about teaching new ways to cope and also getting to the core and finding out why we’re feeling the need to cope in the first place.
Many times, people have been “coping” for so long, that there isn’t an obvious issue they can pinpoint for why they are using, so there can be many layers to unravel and address along the way. Addiction is never just an isolated thing unto itself. Usually, addiction begins as a means to cope with other issues such as anxiety, depression, past trauma, abuse, poor self-esteem, and so on.
Therapy helps us separate the person from their substance use.
People are so much more than what they’re struggling with. Addiction is a treatable symptom. And the underlying reasons for wanting to cope in the first place? Those are treatable too!
We’ll discover that the subconscious mind is tricky and how to listen and hear when the addiction is doing the talking. We’ll uncover the ingrained messages received from people and society and determine how to combat/transform the ones that aren’t serving us. We’ll also work to know who the safe people and places are to know where to turn when rough days happen – because they will happen. Using combinations of motivational interviewing, family of origin and parts work, strength-based therapy, and CBT/DBT skills, we’ll identify the triggers and devise plans on how to overcome or limit exposure to them – and, of course, how to cope with bad feelings in healthier ways.
With a family, we’ll first learn about the process or substance use disorder so there is a cohesive understanding. We’ll work together to identify and maintain healthy boundaries. We’ll define each person’s role in their loved one’s addiction and form a plan to stop enabling and start supporting. The family will effectively work their own program – like being in recovery themselves – through identifying ways in which they are being engaged in active or passive enabling and then learning to react and handle situations differently. Everyone will learn healthier ways of communicating, form better understandings, and find ways to build back trust together.
Through therapy, you can learn to love yourself.
You can learn to love and respect your family members and yourself, have healthy boundaries, utilize healthy coping mechanisms, and feel a sense of empowerment you may not have felt before. Tackling addiction is something that takes courage and the desire to do the work, but the entire rest of your life is waiting on the other side. We promise it will be worth the effort!
Reach out to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation phone consultation to see if you’d like to move forward with True Therapy. (602) 999-8245