When a behaviour becomes addictive or compulsive, there can be feelings of shame, fear, and loss of control. Individuals, families, and even our culture at large can focus only on addictive actions and consequences – which can be dramatic. We can forget to ask about context: what might lead a person to make a choice like that in the first place?
As an addictions counsellor, I am interested in learning what underlies addiction, self-harm, and destructive impulses. Addictions usually begin as an attempted solution to a problem, not as the problem itself. Author Carol Bridges writes “Addiction is…a wrong turn taken by a strong desire for transcendent experience.”
When working with addictions, a question that intrigues me is: what is the person trying to transcend, and how might they do it more effectively?
People often ask for help when they feel they can no longer cope on their own, and this is the beginning of change. I offer a safe space to be vulnerable about addiction. Your job is healing and transformation; mine is to use my experience as an addictions counsellor to hold your truths with strength and integrity.
*For loved ones of people struggling with addiction, check out my blog post on the subject.
Johann Hari’s TED talk encapsulates the social aspect of isolation and belonging, and how this influences our experience of addiction. His book “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs” is a great read, as well.