Counselling for addiction in Berkhamsted
If you’re struggling with drug addiction or alcohol addiction and you’re thinking about having counselling or hypnotherapy to help it would be natural to feel nervous or ambivalent about starting the process. After all if you think the end point of the process is to give up a drug or substance you’ve become dependent on to manage how you feel, how can you feel entirely good about giving it up or starting that process?
The truth is most people that are either dependent or addicted but want to stop have mixed feelings about doing so. One day they can want to stop, the next they have no intention of it. Often they’re sick of suffering with the problems it causes, and at the same time really struggle with the thought of either getting by without it or dealing with the compulsion to consume it. Both of those prospects seeming overwhelming and stressful.
In my experience therapy for such problems works best when there’s no pressure to give up in the first place, which can sound like a strange and contradictory thing to say. The most successful therapeutic experiences I’ve been part of don’t involve force to pressure behaviour in any direction. Force typically produces backlash. If you want to increase a compulsion to do something, somebody else forbidding or pressurising you not to do it very often increases the urge to do it. If people often consume drugs or alcohol as a consequence of feeling stressed, stress or pressure itself can’t be part of the process of stopping, it requires a different route. Stopping using drugs or alcohol is made possible when stress is soothed and reduced not increased.
The alternative to trying to pressurise or force stopping is to begin to explore. And not with pressure but with support. And when I say explore I mean explore the persons relationship to the substance, and it’s useful to think of it as a relationship. Alcohol and substances are like a two sided friend, beneficial in some respects, damaging in others but a friend with which somebody who is dependent has developed an attachment to. Exploring what it does for them, what’s useful about it, how and when it’s used and in response to what sorts of feelings and how those feelings connects to the feelings that are stored from earlier experiences in life is part of the process of learning about one’s own addictions. Alcohol and drugs modify our emotional state and reduce and blank out our awareness of parts of our experience. Both drugs and alcohol anaesthetise feelings, and temporarily soothe distressed emotional states. If you want to stop taking a substance you need to discover why it’s become useful in the first place and how it fits into your life.
The use of alcohol or any emotion modifying substance often signifies a difficulty in coping with certain sets of feelings and the drug is used because it temporarily banishes them. In one sense the substance is not the problem, it’s what’s happening at the level of thought and feeling that leads to reaching for the drug that’s the problem. The behaviour of addiction is like the branches of the tree, it’s not the root but rather the thing you do to try to change how you feel. And the troublesome feelings, thoughts, limiting beliefs and painful experiences that are underneath addictions are often unconscious and buried. When people self medicate they’re often not really aware of what it is that they’re self medicating in themselves, and this is part of the usefulness of counselling and hypnotherapy. Often in counselling or therapy, people that are addicted have a chance to explore in a powerful, deep and supported way what’s going on inside themselves that leads to reaching for drugs or alcohol to try and soothe it. This supportive exploratory relationship is in itself soothing, and supports emotional regulation. As time goes on and people make all sorts of enlightening discoveries about themselves and stress starts to diminish, it can then become an option to choose whether to continue using or not.
Ultimately people only stop using an addictive substance if they choose to do so. And it often takes getting to a stabilised and calm place of self awareness that makes that possible. If you are coerced into stopping, it’s a sign that you don’t really want to do it in the first place. If you choose to stop using and do something healthier and happier instead then you’re in charge of the whole process and much more likely to succeed in the long term.
If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction or drug addiction and are looking for counselling or hypnotherapy in berkhamsted to help please feel free to get in touch.
I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by telephone on 07717 515 013.