What are Addictions?
Addictions come in many forms and can be a frustrating experience and can impact the person's entire family and social system. Addictions do not discriminate and affect people from all walks of life, in a multitude of ways. We understand that addictions often arise as a way to self-soothe in response to pain or trauma, and getting to the root cause of how and when the addiction started is essential to getting things under control. The behaviour or the substance one uses to soothe pain often begins as a helpful remedy, and as such, the person continues to use or behave in a certain way to gain the same desired response, which can build a tolerance and a dependency and may require the frequency or dosage to increase. This increase can be very harmful, not only physically, but emotionally, mentally, socially, and spiritually for the individual and their family.
We work with individuals from a trauma-informed perspective to ensure safety, clear and manageable goals, and to help build support systems. We also teach and practice building a toolkit of coping strategies and focus on the person's unique goals, whether they be harm reduction or abstinence.
There are both substance addictions and also behavioural addictions.
- Substance addictions include alcohol.
- Drug addictions include both illicit and prescription medications.
- Behavioural addictions may not start as an addiction but can result in one. Some examples of behavioural addictions include food addiction, eating disorders, social media addiction, sex and pornography addiction, as well as gambling and video game addiction.
It is important to understand that addictions are unique to each person and will require a deep understanding of how severely they are affecting or distressing the individual.
There are 5 main stages of change that relate to recovery according to Prochaska and DiClemente (1983). It is common for people to go back and forth between stages, and there are appropriate interventions and options in each stage. They are;
- action and maintenance
During any of these stages, we treat the person experiencing the addiction with compassion and work to reduce the shame associated with their behaviour. Relapses or slips are a normal and an expected part of addiction recovery and our team aims to help individuals learn to differentiate between a slip and a relapse and work to learn from these relapses so we have a better understanding as we move through the steps and stages of change. We offer a strengths-based approach and draw from the skills that folks are already using and work to strengthen those skills as their circumstances change.
Developing a support team can be vital to a successful recovery and you may choose to include medical interventions, psychotherapy services, peer support, and/or different holistic wellness strategies into your recovery plan. We will assist you in being successful and having the right support. Addiction recovery is absolutely possible with the appropriate interventions and the development of a solid support network. We understand that change is hard and relapses in addiction are part of the process. Our team is committed to supporting you at each step of the journey.
Approaches to Therapy Treating Addictions
We treat those experiencing a variety of addictions, using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and compassion focused therapy (CFT). We also provide therapy for the support systems of these individuals. If there are physical or safety concerns regarding your recovery that require medical care, for instance needing a supervised detox to get your body to a healthy state, we can help to make referrals to withdrawal management and/or detox services to ensure you are carefully monitored, either prior to or in tandem with therapy.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a goal-oriented type of therapy that teaches the client how to first recognize and then change unhealthy ways of thinking and behaving. With the use of in-session practice and homework of skills to work on between sessions, this treatment is tailored to fit the client's goals and is a highly evidence-based collaborative psychotherapy.
Compassion focused therapy (CFT) is a type of psychotherapy that encourages individuals to be compassionate toward others as well as themselves. This type of therapy is primarily used for clients that struggle with self-criticism and self-contempt. CFT often includes exercises to practice mindfulness and appreciation. Sessions focus on examining the ways we talk to ourselves, where we might have first developed the particular tone and word choices used, and how we can make changes to how we speak to ourselves to increase self-compassion and appreciation.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is the oldest of the modern therapies and focuses on unconscious processes as they are manifested in the client's present behaviour.
The goals of psychodynamic therapy are client self-awareness and understanding of the influence of their past on their present behaviour. Brief psychodynamic psychotherapy enables the client to examine unresolved conflicts and symptoms that arise from past relationships and manifest themselves in their day to day life as current struggles.
Several different approaches to brief psychodynamic psychotherapy have evolved from psychoanalytic theory and have been used to treat many different mental health presentations.