“Don’t ask why the addiction, ask why the pain?”~ Gabor Mate
We think of addiction or harmful use of alcohol, drugs and other harmful behaviours as maladaptive coping strategies. In fact, these behaviours are the brain’s best attempt at providing relief from suffering. If there are two routes to a destination – one is the expressway – it gets you there fast, with the least amount of traffic and stops. The other is the back roads – they are bumpier, it takes longer and there are lots of places for delays. Which do you choose? The expressway. When we are suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety, grief, pain and our brains are introduced to a substance or a behaviour and it provides escape or relief it becomes a learned coping strategy. This is adaptive behaviour, however the consequences of addiction are what makes it a maladaptive coping strategy and often causes a whole host of troubles.
Counselling for Addiction
If you’re concerned about an addiction, I provide a non-judgmental, supportive space of self-discovery. I’m not going to tell you that you have to makes changes in any certain way, I’m going to meet you where you are at in your own process. Counselling or therapy for addiction often starts with examining the behaviour and looking at what benefit you get from it. Change looks different for every person but we’ll start with minimizing the harmful consequences of your behaviour so you can start to have more control over your life. Deeper therapeutic work often means looking at those underlying hurts and beginning to resolve past traumas when you are ready to do this.
Overcoming addiction means teaching your brain how to do things differently. We’ll explore more effective coping strategies for coping with triggers and stressors, so you can feel more confident in making changes and possibly letting go of the harmful behaviours that are keeping you stuck.
Sometimes, more intensive treatment is required, especially if you have a goal of abstinence and are having a hard time achieving a stretch of sobriety. I can help you decide if a residential treatment program might be the right choice for you.
If you’ve already completed a residential or day treatment program, you may be seeking support for maintaining the changes you’ve already made or relapse prevention. Regular individual sessions provide accountability and increase your ability to be successful in overcoming your addiction.
Counselling for Loved Ones
Loving someone with an addiction is heart-wrenching. You likely feel powerless and consumed by your loved one’s behaviour. Counselling can help you support the person you love but also set appropriate boundaries and take good care of yourself.