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Addiction Counseling

- Addiction Counseling - Transform Your Pain into PurposeAddiction is a complex and multi-faceted condition which requires several layers of intervention, including both professional addiction counseling and accessible peer support.

One of the most confounding aspects of addiction is the many myths and misconceptions that surround it, so the first portion of competent addiction counseling often consists of educating both the addict and their loved ones about the true nature of their malady.

Myth 1 – Addiction is only limited to substance abuse.

While most people associate the term addiction with the misuse of alcohol or narcotics, almost any behavior pattern can also become addictive.

Clinically, addiction is rooted in obsessive thinking which results in compulsive behavior. While this should not be confused with a clinical diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, the two conditions share fundamental traits.

“Obsessive” means that you may wish and try to stop thinking about something, but you simply cannot seem to make yourself stop fixating on it — whether it’s that next drink, that next brownie or that guy that you met who showed all the signs of being a narcissist or some other form of “bad news”, but was just “so attractive”.

“Compulsive” means that you may wish and try to stop a particular behavior pattern, but no matter how much you read and learn about it, you cannot stop — even though you know it’s not good for you.

Most people readily acknowledge that substance addictions can include a chemical dependence upon alcohol, nicotine and a host of over-the-counter remedies, prescription medications and elicit “street” drugs — yet they might not realize that any person who either inherently possesses or gradually develops an adequately addictive personality can form an obsessive-compulsive attachment to just about any behavior.

Here is the “short list” of documented behavioral addictions:

1. Codependency (taking care of others, over taking care of self)
2. Toxic Relationship Addictions
3. Love Addiction
4. Sex Addiction
5. Romance Addiction
6. Emotional Addiction
7. Food Addictions (over eating, eating disorders)
8. Work Addiction (“workaholism”)
9. Gambling Addiction
10.Internet Addiction
11.Gaming Addiction (video games)
12.Shopping Addiction
13.Spending and/or Debt Addiction
14.Hoarding Addiction
15.Sugar Addiction (refined, glutenous and “simple carbohydrates”)
16.Any behavior taken to an uncontrollable and self-destructive extreme

Myth 2 – The root of addiction is behavioral or genetic.

Since we classify addictions based upon the compulsive behavior patterns that they produce (a point made clear, in our list above), most people mistakenly believe that addiction is synonymous with a behavior — whether it be using drugs, engaging in relationships with unavailable, abusive or otherwise toxic “partners” or any other intractable activity.

But the core of addiction is not found within the compulsive behavior — the root of addiction is obsessive thinking.

Consider this example: Addiction treatment, addiction counseling, support groups and other myriad professional and peerbased services would not be required for long-term recovery if the alcoholic could emerge from two weeks of medical detox and never have another thought or care about drinking! And this principle also applies to behavioral addictions because, although there may not be formal detox units for codependency or gambling — the beginning stages of abstaining from such compulsions present a biochemical withdrawal in the brain that is comparable to “drying out” from any narcotic.

So while addiction may be classified by its attendant, compulsive behavior — it is actually defined by the thinking pattern that precedes the behavior.

Addiction is a malady centered in the mind, rather than in the body. Even when genetic predisposition exists, it is secondary. The foremost indicator of addictive personality can be found in a leaning toward distorted perception — and this most often develops in childhood. Myth #3 – Addiction starts with the first “drink”.

Enjoying a carefree state in which your needs are met for you is supposed to be one of the most wonderful aspects about being a child. However, if children find themselves in the unfortunate position of needing to navigate stress, they have very few options.

They cannot employ their natural “fight or flight” mechanism in response to difficult or disturbing circumstances because they are not big enough to fight and they are not autonomous enough to leave — so they must find another way to cope.

The physiology of the body and neurology of the brain are miraculous machines that are preprogrammed to protect us. So if a child is enduring anything from horrific trauma to steady, ongoing stress — their internal mechanisms will provide a much needed alternative to the unavailable options of “fight” or “flight”, in the form of something called dissociation.

Dissociation is a natural stress response facilitated by brain molecules called neurotransmitters, and it essentially means feeling disconnected from oneself and the world — in fact, one might accurately describe dissociation as a natural “high” that helps people to cope through traumatic or stressful events.

The most vital concept to understand is that any substance characterized as pharmacologically “addictive” and/or any behavior enacted in an obsessive-compulsive pattern produces the very same neurotransmitters required to induce a dissociative state! It doesn’t matter if it’s gambling away your life savings or organizing your sock drawer — if you do it compulsively, it is a form of “not being present” and numbing your feelings.

So it makes logical sense that, if dissociation has been a person’s primary emotional coping skill since youth — this would predispose them to addictions.

Consider this example:

Two teenagers go to their first college party and have their first beer. Neither of them likes the taste very much, so one of them just sips and later finds a place to throw out the can — but the other continues drinking one after another (compulsively) because they are enthralled with the effect (dissociation).

The presence or absence of genetic markers for addiction can vary widely between individuals, with some having a great deal of genetic inheritance and many others having no genetic connection to their ailment at all. But dissociation is almost a “universal marker” for addiction. Suffice it to say, that where addiction exists — a history of having unconsciously relied upon dissociation as a primary emotional coping skill likely also exists.

Referring back to our example, the “sipper” is not attached to any need to anesthetize their feelings, while our the fist-time compulsive drinker has likely been using “numbing” as their main way of coping through life, for a very long time. So when they discover something that elicits that same sensation of detachment that their brain chemistry has been providing, but to an extraordinarily heightened degree, they quite literally become captivated by it — mentally first and, then, physically.

How Addiction Counseling Can Help

While there are many different paths to sustained recovery, and implementing them is not a “one size fits all” proposition — the essential elements for long-term addiction healing include professional guidance and peer support, to learn new coping methods which can supplant the false sensations of control and comfort that the addiction used to provide.

“Recovery” means getting a better skill set for coping with feelings and situations — a new “tool kit”, free from the deleterious side effect of addiction in which the very substance or behavior that you turned to for relief begins compounding your problems.

In actuality, there is no such thing as “stopping” or “quitting” an addiction — there is only replacing it with coping strategies that work better. Once you experience them, you will not want to go back! ARCS Addiction Counseling teaches you highly effective emotional and relationship skills which promote a level of internal awareness and resultant well-being so replete, that they can naturally resolve addictions.

Just some of our online video lessons include:

1. How addictions operate: all the details on how addiction manipulates you

2. How to recognize and address obsessive thinking and distorted perception

3. How to change any behavior pattern, and sustain that change

4. How to build a customized recovery lifestyle that works for you

5. How to prevent relapse

6. Case studies: review common recovery entanglements, so that you can avoid them

7. How to implement your own personal sense of spirituality within the healing process

8. The addiction-trauma connection: how gaps in formative development impact us

9. How to rewire your instinctual drives toward healthy responses

10.How to respond to your feelings in an empowered way

11.How to recognize toxic personalities and relationships

12.How to establish and maintain effective boundaries

13.How to enhance your internal awareness

14.How to develop primal security, to offset fear and anxiety

15.How to build and fortify self-esteem, self-acceptance and self-appreciation

16.How to access internal validation, so you do not need to rely on others for it

17.How to restore internal loyalty, toward your own feelings and needs

18.How to “tap in” to your natural intuition and creativity

ARCS combines our comprehensive online addiction recovery video series with a safe, authentic and caring online learning environment. We offer addiction counseling in both individual and group session formats, arming you with the knowledge and support that you will need — to begin walking through the world with so much enhanced wisdom and internal assurance, that you will no longer yearn to dissociate!

And, of course, all of our addiction counseling participants also have the option to transform their suffering into the gift of helping others, by earning CARC Life Coaching Certifications as you venture through your own, personal healing journey. Once you graduate, you are welcome to join us as we guide others through this transformational process.