Therapy alone is not enough when tackling addiction
When tackling addictive behaviour, in my experience, therapy alone is not enough. Addiction is often a way of filling a gap in our lives. So we need to build a new life. Our addiction - drink, drugs, gambling - masks the distress our emptiness causes. At the same time, our addiction can also remove the cause. It does this by blurring our thought processes and allowing us not to think very much at all. Once we experience this we often want to experience it again and again. These feelings disappear each time our addiction wears off. We strive to repeat them. We like how it feels. Often it feels like an escape from reality.
Addictive behaviour can be alienating. It cuts us off from our inner selves so we no longer know who we are. It can drive our support network away - leaving us feeling isolated and vulnerable. Addiction often leads us to do things in secret, or at least partially hidden. It is a class act is self-deception since we often underestimate how much drink we have consumed, how many drugs we have taken and how much money we have gambled away.
So how do we beat our addictions? As soon as we decide we are going to tackle our addictive behaviour, we need to get our lives in order. When we do this - relationships, friendships, interests - we can become what Henri Nouwen describes as 'the Wounded Healer'. In our woundedness we can become a source of life for others. Because we have lived with our addiction, and recovered from it, we can work to help others achieve an addiction free life too.
This 'new role' is an important part of our recovery - especially if our recovery is to be sustained. We are, effectively, re-engaging in life. The client with addictive behaviour can re-discover the meaning of live and feel whole again.
Whilst therapy alone is unlikely to beat addiction - we need to reflect on our environment and join a support group for example - it can provide a reflective space where we can discover what we need to do in a supportive and non-judgemental therapeutic relationship.
This way we can reconnect with both our inner selves as well as the wider world beyond.
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