Substance and Behavioral Addictions
What is Addiction?
It's no wonder that people consistently seek clarity on this question, regardless of how much information is readily available on the topic. That's because addiction is both exceedingly complex and highly individuated. In other words, it damages on multiple levels, while presenting differently in each individual.
Addiction is both exceedingly complex and highly individuated. In other words, it damages on multiple levels, while presenting differently in each individual.
In terms of complexity, addiction has few rivals. Most conditions that we label a "disease" operate on a purely physiological level; however, addiction simultaneously permeates the physical, mental, emotional, social and existential domains. It nestles into the sufferer's psyche, disrupting emotional nature, distorting personality, all-but-shredding fragile identity and, finally, interfering with the delicate harmony of the brain... and these are only the internal mechanics of this killer. Once it has taken hold, its external symptoms lay waste not only to the addict, but to entire families and communities.
It nestles into the sufferer's psyche, disrupting emotional nature, distorting personality, all-but-shredding fragile identity and, finally, interfering with the delicate harmony of the brain.
As much as addiction's intricacy poses a challenge to treatment, this pales in comparison to the obstacles that accompany its individuation. For example, we could review the profiles of two substance addicts that share very similar markers, such as same gender, same age, same substance of choice, same relative stage of progression, same legal consequences; however, these are just demographics and symptoms. In fact, one of these patients had a brain chemistry imbalance before ever having ingesting substances; whereas, the other patient has a brain chemistry imbalance due to having abused substances... Their treatment plans should look very different!
In a world of competing theories and attendant catch phrases, we believe that the same traits of versatility and flexibility that we help our clients to develop serve us well, as addiction-recovery professionals. We proffer versatility, quite literally, by staying "well-versed" in a wide range of treatment modalities and options. And, we conduct free consultations because we consider it part of our professional obligation to remain open-minded and flexible enough to match services with each individual's needs. In fact, if an addict needs a particular program component that we don't currently offer, we will either find it and make a referral, or develop it on their behalf.
If an addict needs a particular program component that we don't currently offer, we will either find it and make a referral, or develop it on their behalf.
We realize that, in order to treat this insidious and embedded condition, that finds its own voice in dogma and extremism, we must remain adaptive. Just as addiction has many facets, so does recovery, and just as addiction presents in variable manifestations, different treatments - or, more accurately, different combinations of treatments - work best for each individual. In fact, hasn't nature sufficiently shown us that our ability to adapt is the preeminent characteristic that yields us consistently at the top of the food chain... that ensures our survival? And, treating addiction is all about survival.
In essence, addiction-recovery counseling involves increasing a client's ability to adapt, relative to their inherent strengths and susceptibilities. For example, can you be as emotionally content on a stressful day, as on a relaxing one? Can you know who you are and feel good about it, when confronted with criticism, just as much as when showered with approval? Do you have the tools on your proverbial belt, to contend with everything that life may throw your way? These are the benchmarks of sustained recovery and , not coincidentally, the skills for successful living.
It's pertinent, to close with what one of our counselors recently imparted, to a group of workshop attendees:
"You think you came here to 'get off of drugs'... and, you have. But, that is only the beginning. You've actually come here, to learn how to live effectively. And, once you know the secrets of life, you will never want to disable your consciousness again."