Counseling Addiction: Breaking the Unhealthy Behavior Pattern

Addiction happens when a person continuously and compulsively engages in an activity that disrupts wellbeing.

A person could be addicted to behaving a certain way, such as watching blue movies, or substances such as drugs. It becomes an addiction when the person repeatedly engages in the activity and it gets in the way of his priorities, relationships, occupation and health. Addicts may not realize that they are addicted to a certain activity and that it is interfering with their lifestyle.

The brain builds the tolerance to a certain addiction so that the cues, whenever available, induce the person to engage in it.

The cues could include ongoing stress in life, an environment where the person lives and social networks. Social, genetic or environmental factors lead to continuous, irresistible cravings to engage in the activity. An addict’s hereditary makeup would make him susceptible to behave in a harmful way.

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Putting an End to Disruptive Coping Mechanisms

Addicts usually engage in a destructive habit to cope with stressful or unpleasant life circumstances. To begin a treatment plan, it is important to realize why they are engaging in the behavior in the first place. The person needs to develop a plan of action to cope with stress.

Therefore, the plan of action should be to understand the pattern of addiction.

To treat addiction, the counselor must realize that an addict is not necessarily of morally loose character or lacks self-control. Addicts do not realize that they have lost themselves to the addiction.

Understanding Addiction

Addiction is different from habit because an addict is not able to control his impulses due to unpleasant circumstances. A habit is the result of a person’s choice – he/she can start or stop whenever she wants to and can be successful if he/she has the willpower.

Counseling could help the addict resist urges and learn to cope with life stressors without getting involved in anything destructive.

Addiction could also be used synonymously with dependency. The addict develops tolerance towards the activity or substance and with more consumption would require more of the object of attachment. The treatment plan should include etiology and prognosis of the addiction, risk factors that could cause relapse and work on productive coping mechanisms. Counselors could help by empathizing with addicts, motivate them and provide them with the tools to improve their quality of life.

The treatment plan should take into account environmental, social and genetic factors that cause addiction as well as their after effects. The addict should learn to acknowledge the detrimental consequences of his/her behaviors not only for themselves but for others as well. Furthermore, they should also try to understand how it may disrupt their life goals.

Preparing addicts for recovery is imperative. Depending on the severity of the addiction, treatment could take months or years. Furthermore, one approach may not work for every addict. Every addict is coming from a different lifestyle, background, cultural upbringing and experience.

It is important to understand where they are coming from to develop an effective treatment plan. The approach could vary by gender, age, severity and form of addiction and risk factors. However, at the end of the it all, irrespective of the back story, addiction is definitely something that needs help.

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