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There are a lot of terms we use when we talk about "addiction" -- included in this is "problematic use," "over-use (of substances," "harm reduction," and more. Our counselors are trained to collaborate with clients in order to use the most effective language in support of the larger goals. When an individual, or sometimes whole family come to therapy to address "the problem," finding the right words is a process unto itself, and ultimately a whole communal picture of "health" and "healing" can come into sight when we are all on the same page, using the same words to mean the same thing.
Addiction is a complex problem that affects millions of people worldwide. Whether it is drugs, alcohol, sex, eating (over, under, restricting, etc) or even gambling, addiction can lead to devastating consequences for both the individual and their loved ones. Addiction counseling is a form of therapy that aims to help individuals overcome their addiction and lead a healthier, happier life.
Addiction counseling is a process that involves working with a trained counselor to address the root causes of addiction and develop strategies to manage cravings and triggers. For many, there are deep underlying emotional and relational concerns that need to be seen, touched, and healed before the addiction process will abate. A common refrain in the field refers to the emotional process underlying behaviors -- "if I was a robot, I would just stop it, but I get (emotionally) triggered, and then I'm off to the races." The first step in addiction counseling is usually an assessment, where the counselor will evaluate the individual’s history of substance abuse, mental health, and any other factors that may be contributing to their addiction. Starting to dig into one's history may reveal patterns around managing loneliness, guilt, shame, disruptions in relationship, difficulty with loss or failure, what some experience as "numbing" and others "euphoria."
Once an assessment has been completed, the counselor will work with the individual to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to their unique needs. This may include individual counseling sessions, developing social and communal resources (e.g. Support groups, 12 steps, support / sponsors, etc), and medication-assisted treatment. Sometimes the treatment plan can be as simple as "We will develop skills, strengths, supports, and keep them in place as possible for when (insert situation, feeling, experience) comes up in your world."
Individual counseling sessions are an important part of addiction counseling, as they allow individuals to explore their feelings and behaviors in a safe, supportive environment. During these sessions, the counselor may use a variety of therapeutic techniques, such as EMDR, psychodynamic, family systems, motivational interviewing, and mindfulness, to help the individual develop coping skills and overcome their problematic use. Progress Counseling offers these, as well as counselors who specialize in trauma-informed modalities and lived experience as people in recovery.
We at Progress Counseling say, "Safety is the healing. Healing is the safety."
Connection with others in the community is also a valuable component of addiction counseling, as it provides individuals with the opportunity to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. This may mean volunteering, religious / spiritual gatherings, sponsors and supports. Your counselor may have some ideas, and some clients will come in with a history of enjoyment (e.g. before the addiction process disrupted the relationship with the larger community) that can be re-discovered as part of the recovery process.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may also be used in addiction counseling to help individuals manage cravings and reduce the risk of relapse. MAT involves the use of medications, such as methadone or buprenorphine, to help individuals manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings for drugs or alcohol. Our counselors can support the referral process, and help you decide what is right for you as part of your sobriety-oriented lifestyle.
In addition to counseling and medication, addiction counseling helps people develop a practice (read: everything you do between sessions) that promote a healthy, recovery oriented lifestyle. This may involve other forms of support, such as family therapy or support groups. Family therapy, a service Progress Counseling offers, can help loved ones understand the challenges of addiction and learn how to provide support to their family member during their recovery. Support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, Dharma Recovery, or Narcotics Anonymous, can provide individuals with a supportive community of peers who are also in recovery. Similar to MAT, these groups are not one-size-fits-all, and our counselors are trained to help clients discover what combination of groups, meds, activities, supports, etc, will be most effective to develop the lifestyle you want to live.
Addiction counseling is an important tool among others for individuals who are struggling with addiction. Often, the first step is to recognize and verbalize that this is not a problem easily overcome - "I need help." By working with a trained counselor, individuals can develop the skills and strategies they need to overcome their addiction and lead a healthier, happier life. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, seek help from a qualified addiction counselor today.
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