Living with an Addiction
Addiction and recovery work is a daily recommitment to loving yourself. For those that struggle with addiction it can feels like there is no hope and no way out. Even the word ‘Addiction’ can be confusing and it holds a lot of stigma in our society. In the simplest terms, addiction is manifested through behavior. When a person continuously engages in a rigid and/or compulsive relationship with any substance or activity as a form of coping when faced with challenging emotions, thoughts, and internal/external triggers.
- Substance use
- Video games
These common addictions are all normal things that people do on a regular basis but the central difference is engaging in these behaviors is creating a disruption in the person’s life. The addiction is the person’s relationship to the substance and/or behavior and not substance or behavior itself. It is very difficult once the addictive behavior becomes the person’s only way of coping. The person quickly loses themselves in this behavior and stops regulating their own emotions. Overtime the person forgets how to manage difficult situations without the behavior. The person’s window of tolerance for distress begins to shrink and the needs for the addictive behavior increases.
Moreover, many people struggling with addiction issues have shared some commonalities in upbringing and experience such as: trauma, neglect, loss, relationship issues, feelings of disconnection, and issues in family of origin. Research has found that many people struggling with other mental concerns will look to self-soothe and cope through addiction. We help support our clients in identifying the unhealthy patterned behaviors and work with them on building their repertoire of healthy coping strategies. The coping strategies will support in building more self awareness, emotion regulation, impulse control, and challenging old ways of thinking. In therapy we will explore the things that trouble you from the past, in the present, and identify the core issues and hopefully work through any trauma that has gone unaddressed. A lot goes into the healing of an addiction and sometimes going through this process with a fellowship like the 12-step community can greatly benefit the person to build connections, responsibility, and integrity back in the community.
Signs that addiction might be a problem:
- The substance/object is taken in larger amounts or over longer periods of time
- There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control use
- A good amount of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain or use
- Cravings or a strong desire to use again
- Recurrent use may result in a failure to fulfill major role obligation (work, school, home life)
- Tolerance change
- Hiding use, Justifying use, Minimizing use, or Denying use
- Experiencing negative withdrawal symptoms if use is ceased
- Continued use despite having persistent and recurrent social and interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by use
If you or a loved one is struggling with symptoms of addiction we want to offer you and your family hope no matter how dark your days have been. So far you have survived 100 percent of your worst days and sometimes from where you are standing the only place to go is up. Some of the most inspiring stories are those that have lived through the darkest low points at the bottom. Rock bottoms will teach you lessons mountain tops never could and if you are still breathing there is time and there is hope.
Each individuals journey to overcome addiction looks different and we have many supplemental services that can be a support throughout this process. People come into treatment at all different levels of readiness to change. We use the stages of change model to conceptualize the readiness to change a behavior. The stages of change model consist of five stages: Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation/Determination, Action, and Maintenance.
Stages of Change Model
As mentioned, some people come into therapy when they are in the pre-contemplation stage and here they are still in denial that a problem even exist and maybe they are in therapy to appease a loved one or work request. Some come in a contemplation state where they know a problem exists but there is no commit to doing anything about it yet. Contemplation is all about ambivalence and some people stay in this stage for many weeks or year before ever moving on. Therapy can be really helpful at this point to explore the cost and benefits of the addictive behavior on life and performance.
Some people come into treatment in the preparation/determination stage of change where they are ready to create an action plan to combat the problem they have identified. Other’s arrive when they are in the action stage of change where they are actively involved in taking the steps to change the behavior. This might include working through a recovery program that assist in ceasing or reducing the use. Those in the action stage are at the higher risk for relapse because they are making overt efforts to quit or change the behavior.
People also come in at the maintenance stage in recovery as an aftercare support sometimes following a more structure program. At this stage people have maintained sobriety for a period of time avoiding the temptation to return to old habits and they have identified new healthy ways of coping that replace the old behavior. Once in the maintenance stage of recovery, clients have some stability and consistently making it an appropriate time to dive into some of the deep rooted issues that caused the behavior and other contributing issues.
Sometimes throughout the recovery process people relapse into old behaviors and if that day ever comes we will always be here to offer non-shaming support and provide you with a safe space to once again rebuild. Many people have found the 12 Step community to be a great support for early recovery and for maintenance. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are two great resources that provide meetings daily and by the hour. Banning together with others that have experienced similar struggles provides a space for healing and a wonderful way to release shame. Please follow the links provided for resources for AA meetings and NA meetings throughout Orange County.
- Motivational Interviewing
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Solution focused Therapy
Counseling support for family members
We offer counseling for people supporting loved ones with addiction. Seeing someone you love battle addiction can be one of the most gut wrenching experiences and it can leave you feeling powerless. We provide counseling on how to take care of you and your needs while you are supporting those struggling with addiction.