Addiction and Substance Abuse
Over the years, the disease model has become the primary model in working with the addicted person, highlighting Alcoholics Anonymous and abstinence, during recovery. Although I believe Alcoholics Anonymous is valuable while someone achieves sobriety as well as in the recovery process, I believe that we, as mental health professionals, should take a different approach. I believe we need to spend more time recognizing what we know from research on the brain and the nervous system and acknowledge rewiring that happens in addiction and with the different life themes and issues that come to the surface at different times during recovery. This content can look very different than the content in an addicted persons life prior to their substance abuse or addiction. It’s important to be gentle with this and honor the difference in these challenges in recovery and in the healing process.
Addiction as a Process of Self-Modulation
I work from a Gestalt therapy approach which views addiction as a process of self-modulation. Self-modulation is how the addict modulates his or her own behavior. The behavior patterns an individual develops before and during addiction change in recovery, being replaced by new patterns of behavior, new means of self-modulation, a new way of organizing the self in the environment. I believe that if I am to be able to fully appreciate an addicted persons struggles during recovery, it is essential for me to frame their changes in the context of previously developed patterns of behavior. Addiction and recovery is more than a digression or avoidance of something; it is about a person searching for meaning and survival, one that eventually leads to depths of pain and isolation.
If you are wondering if you have a problem abusing alcohol or any other substance, I can help. I am experienced in working with addiction and long-term recovery.
Are you wondering if you have an addiction to alcohol? Take the NAACD Alcohol Abuse Self Test.