Counselling & Psychotherapy for Addictions
Addiction is a complex phenomenon characterised by a loss of control and compulsive, habitual behaviour. It can refer to physical dependence on substances, such as drugs or alcohol to repeated behaviours or activities that someone feels they have no control over. A person may be addicted to smoking, illegal drugs or prescription drugs. Some people are addicted to gambling, work, solvents, sex, sugar, pornography, tanning beds, shopping, internet and even lip balm. So the list can be extensive.
It is estimated that two million people in the UK have some kind of addiction and 25 million globally (World Health Organisation 2017).
There is a difference between habits and addictions. Alcohol for example, may be a habit, something to enjoy regularly in moderation for many people, but they don’t need a drink to get through the day as an addict does.
Most addictions can be treated, with professional support and willpower.
Symptoms of addiction
Whatever the addiction, a person is dependent on it every day of their life. In the case of many drugs and alcohol, a person’s tolerance to the drug results in them drinking more or taking higher doses to get the same effect.
It is common for people to develop a tolerance to their pain relief medication thus requiring higher doses to achieve the same level of relief. In most cases, such a situation is normal and is not a sign of addiction. However, you should talk to your doctor first or if this effect becomes troubling.
An addiction may start to affect a person’s professional and personal relationships, their work, education and usual routine.
Physical and mental health declines
When someone has an addiction, stopping taking a substance or stopping an activity can cause withdrawal symptoms. In the case of substances ‘cold turkey’ may result in symptoms such as nausea, sweating, the chills and shaking.
Causes of addictions
There is no single cause of an addiction. It can affect rich and poor, men and women, young and old.
Pressures and stresses in life may be to blame in some cases, from high-powered jobs to unemployment.
Often trauma can trigger the use of a substance use disorder
Some studies have suggested genetic links to addiction, but environmental factors are also important and being brought up by a parent with an addiction is believed to increase the risk.In the case of sex addiction, the ‘feel good’ chemicals our bodies produce during sex become addictive to some people.
Am I addicted? Am I an addict?
In reference to the disease model, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V is the formal diagnostic tool for substance use disorder. A diagnosis is based on a pathological pattern of behaviours related to the use of a substance, Please take the time to read the questions below as they may indicate whether your activity use may be an issue:
- Are you using larger amounts of substance than you originally intended and over a longer period of time?
- Is there less pleasure or stimulation from the same amount of the substance activity?
- Is there a feeling of discomfort or unease when the activity is not available?
- Are behaviours or activities continuing beyond what was originally intended?
- Is there a desire to stop the activity but attempts to quit have been unsuccessful?
- Is there a pre-occupation with the activity, either doing it or thinking about it?
- Is the activity leading to social or other commitments being avoided?
- Is the activity continued even though there is clear harm from it?
- Are you failing to fulfil professional or personal tasks because of this activity?
- Are you continuing to use despite knowledge of a persistent or physical or psychological problem caused or exacerbated by the substance?
If you experience two or three symptoms then this could be measured as a mild case of SUD, however, if you feel that four or more symptoms apply then it is advised to seek support around these behaviours.
My approach to addiction therapy
I work with all forms of addiction, and have extensive training and experience in drug and alcohol treatment.
If you decide to undergo a course of therapy to deal with your addiction, the focus will be to help you understand the causes and examine the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that have contributed to it.
Working collaboratively, you will gain the crucial self-understanding and insight you need to recognise what triggers your desire to pursue your addiction, develop strategies to cope with trigger situations, and devise tailor-made methods of handling your withdrawal symptoms while you recover.
It is also important to embrace recovery outside the therapy room. Making the change towards a life of abstinence means assessing external factors and people in your life that may hinder or support your recovery. In conjunction to therapy, I believe that 12 Step fellowships and other mutual aid groups can be beneficial. However, the 12-step program may not be for everyone and this can be discussed further in our sessions.
Why therapy is effective and needed….
For every person that suffers from an addiction and seeks treatment, another five people benefit indirectly. This includes children growing up with addicted parents, loved ones whose relationships have been destroyed as well as friends and colleagues.
Individual counselling will aim to reduce or stop the substance use. It will utilise skill building, adherence to a recovery plan, and explore how to move your life forward in a positive way. Counselling will include an assessment and a treatment plan. As an integrative therapist, the type of counselling would likely include:
- Cognitive-behavioural therapy. This can highlight stressors, situations, and feelings that lead to substance use so that you know how to avoid them or act differently when they occur.
- Contingency management is designed to provide incentives to reinforce positive behaviours, such as remaining abstinent from substance use.
- Motivational enhancement therapy helps people with substance use disorders to build motivation and commit to specific plans to engage in treatment and seek recovery.
- Psychodynamic. This can look at underlying behaviours and attachments in relationships that may have led to this disorder developing
- 12-step facilitation therapy seeks to guide and support engagement in 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
How can Counselling help?
- I have years of clinical experience working with Addiction
- I have completed clinical research on helpful/ unhelpful factors of psychological therapy for substance use disorder
- We can identify if you have an addiction or a habit
- We can explore the underlying behaviours and find the root cause of the addiction
- We can correct problematic behaviours that will interrupt the self-perpetuating cycle of addiction
- Structure therapy in conjunction with medical interventions if needed
Private Counselling & Psychotherapy for Addictions London
To schedule a confidential consultation to discuss how I can help you overcome addiction, simply call on 0207 205 2868 or complete the online enquiry form.