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Therap's role in beating addiction

Dealing with addiction is an ongoing battle for anyone at any stage of the recovery process.

When an addiction is at its most destructive a treatment program can be essential for a person to lift themselves off rock-bottom and start forging a new life path but once a person is out the other side, the struggle is far from over.

Therapy and counseling are essential components to help an addict reintegrate back into the reality. It will provide balanced and professional support on a consistent basis.  Even after the most intensive and well structure of treatment programs it is easy to slip back into the old destructive patterns of behaviour. In a lot of respects being unsupervised and free to relapse is a heavy burden.  It is easy to know and learn how we are supposed to change our behaviours but extremely hard to implement the systematic change that is required.  One way in which you can find support is through therapy and counselling which will relieve your stress around decisions, help you plan your free-time, identify and control impulses as well as provide emotional and social support. 

Patterned behaviours are established through what psychologist call stimulus and reaction links.

Counselling that is tailored to an individual’s experience can give you in-depth knowledge about the stimulus in your life that is linked to your addiction.  One of the most common methods therapy uses to identify the situations which you are more likely to relapse is through a trigger diary. This is a diary where you record the situation you were in when you felt the urge and how it made you feel.  By identifying these areas of your life, counsellors can talk to you about your experiences and help you understand that these situations are connected to your urges.  

It’s not uncommon for smokers who quit to start overeating and gaining weight. Same with people who drink. Ex-smokers or ex-drinkers often turn to food, usually junk food, to cope with feelings such as anger, boredom or depression. From a biological perspective, being addicted to junk food is very similar to cigarette or alcohol addiction. Many of the symptoms are identical as food addiction involves the same areas in the brain and the same neurotransmitters. When a food addict eats junk food, the “reward” centers in the brain are activated, releasing brain neurotransmitters like dopamine.

If you have gained weight as a result of using food to replace another addiction, there are clinically proven programs like Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem’s Lean 13 which help you not only establish healthy eating habits but also take practical steps to avoid those “trigger” foods, lose weight and keep it off.

Counseling can also be beneficial in identifying behaviours outside the scope of what is directly linked with your addiction. It is common for people trying to beat addiction to experience addiction transfer and exchange one vice for another. In these situations, the primary behaviour of the addiction is gone but the behaviour patterns are still present.  To live with addiction, you must understand the root causes of addiction and learn how to control the impulses.

Counselling can help you address unforeseen challenges as they arrive. It provides you with the tools to plan and strategize ways to eliminate the thoughts or patterns from your life or to perceive them in a different way and get by day to day.

Coming out the other side of addiction is not easy. It can be a lonely and negative experience as you fully confront the damage you have wreaked on relationships. You will likely be cutting ties with people that were strongly tied to your addiction. Not everyone will have the patience and trust you will need in the more difficult moments.

Along with your relationship with sponsors and support groups, counseling can provide a positive outlet to work through.

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