Addictions

  • There are many forms of addictive patterns and behaviours. Addiction is destructive to self/other but it is fundamentally painful suffering. Addictive behaviours are usually planned, meaningful, and non-impulsive. I think of addictions as part genetic, biological as well as being heavily influenced by social and environmental factors especially attachment patterns, peer groups, and rituals. Many people struggling with addictive patterns hold foundational, limiting, and sometimes tyrannical core beliefs about themselves or others. It is well established that some of these highly charged reclusive belief patterns often organized early in development, cluster below the level of conscious awareness. So, by definition, these beliefs can operate, with motive force, beyond the reach of conscious awareness. These patterns start out as a creative defense against threat. They represent survival. It is only later in life we call them "negative beliefs." But they come into existence as a protection against harm early in life during times of perceived threat from others or the environment. It is at this level that directed therapeutic counselling can be of value. Structured or semi-structured help is strongly recommended along with individual counselling. Consider Twelve Step programs which have helped millions of people since the mid 1930"s. Consider Self Managed approaches or support groups. These approaches differ in philosophy, scope, and structure. We need the variety just as there is not but one therapeutic approach that is going to work for everyone. Integrating active participation in a recovery program along with counselling can create a powerful combination for many people.  

    Counselling Goal: 

    • appropriate planning
    • action sequences and support
    • anticipation of harm, danger, hazardous situations

    Four Pillars:

    • affect regulation
    • trigger analysis & negative core beliefs (see Summary)
    • finding and developing authentic self-worth beliefs
    • self-care capacities

    Self-Care Capacities:

    • reality-testing (reflective awareness)
    • judgment (anticipation of consequences)
    • self-regulation: control
    • anxiety (as a signal something may be amiss: signal anxiety)
    • ability to draw cause-consequence conclusions and act in own best interest
    • exploration of beliefs about the self through the careful study of key seasoning life experiences

    Good Self-Care Capacities Hedge Against:

    • denial/rejection of danger
    • bravado
    • passive-aggressive behaviour
    • counter-phobia (risk-numb; head-long plunge into danger, hazards, self-injurious behaviour)
    • pride and overblown self-sufficiency (Bullfrog effect; Icarus effect)
    • destructive self-centeredness (exclusive self-focus; very limited, or no, self-other focus)