Has addiction taken hold of your life or someone you love?
Addiction is something that can affect anyone. It hijacks our brain’s ability to prioritize things and can put substance use above all else in times of stress. Throughout my work as an addiction counselor, there have been five common themes I hear people talk about:
-Something bad happened at some point in your life. It was overwhelming, and you didn’t know how to cope. The sadness, depression, or anxiety was overwhelming and there was no end in sight, so you turned to substance use.
-You’ve spent most of your life giving everything you can to everyone. You put everyone else above you and do your best to make everyone happy. At some point you struggled with this and felt like you were either going to snap, or have to use drugs or alcohol to keep going.
-Lots of people in your family are addicted to something so you grew up thinking it was normal, ended up trying it yourself and had lots of fun for a while.
-You got pills from a doctor or from friends. Nobody explained how addictive they would be or what withdrawal would be like.
-You tried something once and had an “aha! moment”. You may have had the thought “OMG, where has this been all my life! this is living!”.
Whichever scenario best describes you, you eventually found yourself in a place where you wanted to stop realized you couldn’t.
What’s this all about?
At its heart addiction is all about attachment. We are all born naturally turning towards others for support in times of difficulty. We feel safe and secure in the world through our attachment to our loved ones. When something happens to threaten these feelings of safety and security, addiction can happen. In other cases addiction itself leads people to become distant and disconnected from their loved ones, turning to drugs and alcohol instead. If you’re struggling with addiction, chances are good that you are also struggling with or have struggled in the past with significant relationships in your life. Everyone needs to feel loved and supported. Addiction counseling helps you find, restore, and keep this feeling.
There is hope!
In addiction counseling I work by helping people to explore trauma, hardships, and difficulties in important relationships that contribute to their addiction. Part why therapy helps is that it gives you someone who understands what you’re going through, has got your back, and won’t judge you for what you’ve been through. Through this we work on you coming to a place of being able to be more open and vulnerable with the people you love and to feel closer and more supported by them. While exploring what has contributed to your addiction, we will work on identifying your triggers, recognizing them before they happen, and coming up with healthy ways to cope with them when they come up.
I’ve tried AA and other programs before and they didn’t help. How will this be different?
I’ve met with lots of people who have been to AA and/or different treatment programs and felt like they weren’t enough or weren’t a good fit. The most common complaints I hear from people are that they felt like their treatment revolved exclusively around groups, or that they were taught a lot of good coping skills, but never worked on the underlying issues contributing to addiction. What makes working with me different is that we will address everything that has contributed to your addiction, work one on one to identify triggers and build coping skills, and I will be there to support you throughout. As with all good therapy, the most important part is your relationship with your therapist. We will work through this together.
How do I get someone I love to go to therapy?
You can never really make someone go to addiction counseling if they don’t want to. I have had multiple occasions where a spouse told their partner they either went to counseling or they were done. This can work to get someone to make an appointment, but that person has to be ready for change themselves in order for counseling to be helpful in any way. If you have someone you are concerned about and you think addiction counseling might be helpful for them, talk with them about their expectations. Chances are, if they are resistant, they’re imagining counseling to be something it isn’t. I’m not a stiff impersonal therapist like you’ve seen in the movies and I’m not going to grill them on what they’ve done wrong in their lives or force them to talk about anything they don’t want to. Encourage them to give me a call so we can talk about what addiction counseling actually looks like.
I’ve tried to stop in the past and failed multiple times. I don’t know if I can ever get free.
A big part of what maintains addiction is shame. Many of us feel shame for things we have done in the past or for perceived failures. This is one of the most common first obstacles I see people battling addiction come up against. You are going to mess up. In your early days of recovery you are going to relapse. That happens to everyone. In many ways we are all our own worst critics. In counseling we will work on issues like this that bring up shame for you. If you relapse and “should” all over yourself you’re going to stress yourself out and perpetuate the cycle. We’ll work on you recognizing your successes, little steps, not beating yourself up about failures, and learning how to get back on your feet after them.
What makes me qualified
I have worked with addiction in counseling since 2008. In my training I worked in a methadone clinic for a year providing counseling and group therapy to people addicted to opioids. In 2014 I worked at Heritage Oaks Hospital for a year. Heritage oaks is the largest inpatient psychiatric facility in northern California. There I worked with addicts and people going through severe life crises. I have been to several trainings on addiction and substance abuse. Also, like many of us, addiction has always been in my life in some way or another.
Call me for a free brief phone consultation
If anything you’ve read here has resonated with you or if you have any questions give me a call or send me an email sometime. We can talk about what is going on and how I might be able to help.
Joe Borders, MFT
Addiction counseling in Roseville and Sacramento
1722 Professional Drive,
Sacramento, CA 95825
775 Sunrise Ave., suite 110
Roseville, Ca 95661