The Stigma Of Addiction

Addiction can seem like a dirty word. People find all sorts of euphemisms to hide, or detract from what can, all too often, be an addiction. Workaholics describe themselves as “dedicated” or that they always “go the extra mile” in the pursuit of that sense of validation that comes from work. For those who turn to alcohol, its just a way of “relaxing” or “rewarding yourself” after a stressful day juggling your business. Perhaps your substance or activity of choice is just a way you take the edge off the anxiety? And for those who use drugs, emphasising the way substances help to cement friendships and aid networking can hide the real truth that there is an issue.

This blog aims to take a frank look at the way addiction can cause pain, and how failing to speak about what is really going on only serves to exacerbate the isolation and disconnection from self and others. I am passionate about helping people in Psychotherapy to talk openly and honestly about what lies at the heart of their addiction, removing the stigma and the shame. This blog has to get the conversation started on addiction and how to find ways towards hope.


Well, the thing is…

When I receive enquiries from potential clients, people rarely speak about addition. They come to speak about some other aspect of their life that is causing pain and distress. The pressure and stress of the workplace, the tension of fitting in, or of managing deep seated insecurity that is hidden by the drive and success of running a business. Yet, so often, I am struck by how – in time – clients begin to open up about addiction. Its almost as if, once they feel that they are able to trust in the non-judgemental environment of the Therapy room, they can let down something of their guard.


What is Addiction?

We can think of addiction as a diagnosis – or even as a neuropsychological disorder or a condition. That’s a medical way of thinking about addiction. That is an important way of considering addiction, but it is not the only approach.

In my Professional Psychotherapy Practice, I work with clients in a collaborative way to create a treatment plan, tailored to my clients’ needs. Yet, I never want to define them as an “addict”. Instead, I see a person – and, so often, a person who has found a way to manage pain that is now no longer serving them. I’m a believer of offering a safe and non-judgmental space and I know this can make a huge difference to tackling the underlining difficulty behind the outward behaviour of the addiction. The supportive space of the Therapy room allows for shame, guilt and judgment to be released.


I See You, I Get You.

I know from my Psychotherapy work with people who have found ways to manage pain by using substances or behaviours that the outward addiction is a foil for complexity. So often, underneath that outward acting out lies shame, guilt, judgment, emotional pain, nightmares, loneliness and detachment from emotions.

I understand the cycle of addiction and I want to see and really “get” what it is that drives you to find ways to numb pain or relieve stress through alcohol, drugs, gambling, smoking or working or even exercising to excess. The compulsivity of addiction keeps you stuck in the cycle and only adds to those feelings of shame, guilt and self-hatred.

My approach is one of empathy and compassion. I want to see you, and hear you – to understand the fullness of your experience and what matters to you.


How I work with addiction?

Creating a safe space is crucial to my approach. In our initial work together, I’ll be working hard to build rapport and connection so you can benefit from a felt sense of being valued and accepted as you are.

It’s true, working therapeutically with addiction can be long-term work. Building an energy and trust between us will be crucial in that work. Over time, we can begin to explore how you can begin to melt the walls of defensive coping mechanisms that are no longer serving you. I will strive to meet you in your trauma, offering safety and honouring with compassion your struggle. We’ll work on creating that shared treatment plan and explore and better understand your behaviour pattern.
Yes, addiction is compulsive, Yet, when you understand the neuroscience behind addiction and how addiction has been programmed in your subconscious mind you will begin to be able to trust that you are in charge of your brain. Remember, every time you commit to addiction you are making a decision! So, commit to a different decision today – get in touch to explore how you can live without the stigma of addiction.