One of the interesting things about any addiction is that it seems to start out innocently enough. Although there ARE drugs and substances that can make an addict overnight, in most situations, addiction evolves progressively. Alcoholics are not addicted at the first sip of liquor or the first taste of beer. Substance use and behavior is generally rooted in pleasant experiences that release endorphins to the brain and body. In fact, these experiences are often so pleasant that people just can’t get enough. Therefore, they often begin a pattern of behavior in an effort to experience the pleasure they felt initially.
A great analogy to define someone who is addicted is that of being enslaved to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming to such an extent that using the drug and/or the sudden cessation of the drug may create a crisis of some kind...whether it be physical, emotional, financial or relational. It is a lose/lose situation: 'If you use, you could die; If you don't use, you could die.' For the alcoholic, this is the later stages of addiction where death could occur. You may have heard that for the alcoholic one drink is TOO MANY and a thousand is NEVER ENOUGH. Hence, the inability to stop using despite the desire to do so due to physiological, psychological, spiritual and emotional dependency.
The first step to successful addiction counseling is coming to terms with the nature of the beast and understanding that things have gotten to the point where YOU are the slave and the DRUG is the master. It enslaves your mind, your body and your emotions. This is known as powerlessness. This is a perfect place to gain humility and acceptance which is necessary during the process of recovery.
Once addicted, the focus of living is directed into obtaining the chemical of choice. You can easily feel as though you have no control over your life or your actions. The good news is that the stage of addiction can be arrested and recovery is possible. The bad news is that, in most cases, you can’t beat addiction alone. Addiction demands intervention of some kind because the risks are so high. Without professional addiction counseling, a downward spiral can begin that leads to bigger problems of a more chronic nature, with an ultimate price being loss of life.
Addiction counseling and recovery is for everyone of every age. Children, teens, adults and even the elderly battle dependencies that have wrecked lives. Successful addiction recovery counseling doesn't just focus on the object of addiction, but also the underlying issues that lead to addictions in the first place. If the object of addiction is addressed at the exclusion of the underlying and surrounding issues, relapse is a very real possibility.
Addiction counseling takes many forms, including one-on-one, in-person sessions with an addiction counselor, group sessions, 12-step programs, online addiction counseling, outpatient treatment programs, inpatient rehabilitation services and/or hospitalization. The important thing is to understand that there is a problem, that help is available.
Moreover, addiction doesn't just affect the addict, but friends, families, spouses, children, coworkers and even clients or customers. For those who love the substance user or addict, their role in relation with the newly recovering addict will also change. This could lead to much resentment and confusion. Therefore, it is important that they, too, undergo a period of recovery from potentially enabling the addict to continue his use while catering to his or her needs out of fear, love or simply not knowing how to address the situation. Loved ones often have become addicted to the addict being 'sick' where they, themselves, are the 'caretaker'. Once the addict begins to recover, the caretaker is no longer needed and will then begin their own process of recovery through support, education and healing from co-dependence.