Addiction counselling is a personal trainer for your brain
Those two words put the problem into focus.
You are thinking about making a change but part of you wants to keep using and stay the course, however bad it is making you feel or affecting your life.
Addiction counselling… how did it end up here looking for help with addiction? Quite often there are many feelings running through your mind:
My friends seem to have normal lives and not be stuck suffering from addiction. Am I broken?
I can’t believe all the harm I’ve caused. Am I a bad person?
Do I deserve to be helped?
I can’t see myself living without my addiction.
I’m in so deep, there isn’t a way out.
Now is the time to end these thoughts which derail your desire to quit addiction and turn around your life.
Addiction counselling is nothing more than looking for a personal trainer for your brain. You can see a personal trainer working with a client at the gym, maximising their potential to turn their bodies into a healthier and stronger shape. Does everyone need a personal trainer? No! But a personal trainer specialises in helping others avoid pitfalls, gives encouragement, and can devise the best plan getting you from point A to B. They have seen hundreds of clients and know many routes of success as the client progresses along the path.
There are many self-help sources for addiction, from books to 12-step programmes. They work well too. However, if you are looking for that extra edge of security to reach and maintain recovery, then an addiction counsellor is the right course of action.
Addiction counsellors have been trained in the latest recovery therapies and are equipped to unpack your history of using and diagnose the best treatment for you. Sometimes this means a referral to a rehab where you are given the chance to focus on this one key aspect of your life, removed from the worries, responsibilities, and social environment that impedes your ability to give it everything you’ve got. If a rehab and detox programme isn’t the start you are given, then you will typically be set up with a plan to meet with your addiction counsellor weekly and have additional meetings at 12-step programmes.
Addiction counselling and 12-step programmes are great combinations of therapy to get you into a new routine and habits of putting your recovery first. As you get stronger, just like working out in a gym, you will need less time with your counsellor as you have been equipped with the knowledge and practice to understand your addiction and how to manage it. From there, counselling will shift from ending active addiction to achieving your personal goals. This is a key step because ending addiction is the first step, making a great life for yourself is the real end point of A to B.
The stigma from society that permeates across everyone is that addiction counselling is for bad people. Reframe your stereotype and tell yourself that it is personal training for your brain. If anyone asks, tell them it is personal training for your brain, and you will see a much different response. More likely, people will be interested in what you will learn to achieve a stronger and healthier brain and not focus on the addiction.
Why this new response?
You’ve taken the old stereotype out of the equation and put addiction counselling in a new box, the right box it should have been in the first place. When people see a friend or family member lose a lot of weight, look better, have more confidence, from changing eating habits and exercising, what do they say? Do they ask, “How did you get fat and lazy in the first place?” No! People want to know the answers, “How did you get so healthy?” And you can tell them how, with a personal trainer for your brain.
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About Mark Dempster
I am a specialist London addiction counsellor and therapist and a recovery coach. I have a Harley Street Counselling Practice and written books about how to break free from addiction and reach your goals. I am interviewed often on BBC TV and radio, featured in newspapers from Evening Standard and Telegraph, and write a column for the Big Issue.