Problem gambling, alcohol and drug use, technology and other addictions
“When you can stop you don't want to, and when you want to stop, you can't...” – Luke Davies
You might or might not think of yourself as addicted, but the odds are good that if you're reading this then you or someone you love are caught up in doing some things that are making life difficult. For a lot of people gambling, alcohol or drug use are making life unbearable, but for many others the cravings are for sex, love, possessions or food. Many people bear intense shame and guilt about these issues, which helps to keep the behaviours secret, and makes it hard to access effective support. Recovery might be the hardest thing that you or your loved one do, But getting the right support can make it easier.
How counselling or psychotherapy helps with compulsions or addictions
Often the first step in recovery is becoming really clear about how ready we are to change. It can be difficult to distinguish between what others want for us, and what we really want for ourselves. Early in treatment a therapist or counsellor may help with this process of clarification through motivational interviewing, a non confrontational and honest approach to helping us to clarify how ready we are to change.
Actually changing our behaviours can be really hard, at least at first. Counsellors and therapists can help with this, by teaching practical skills and strategies for change, for instance to deal with cravings or with intense anxiety that may accompany change. Some of the skills from dialectical behaviour therapy can be useful in this process.
For some people, in order to keep the changes they've made, and to really have a life worth living, underlying issues need to be addressed. Usually it's best if the underlying issues are addressed once the substance use or other problem behaviours have decreased, but this is not always the case. There are many different issues that may need to be addressed. Some examples are trauma, problematic relationships, depression, or long standing issues from our family of origin. People who successfully deal with this part of recovery often find that their lives transform in ways that they could never have imagined, and may feel deep gratitude for having done the hard work of a thorough recovery.