Counselling for Addictions and Substance Use

Addiction can be very complex but also very common. Psychological dependence occurs when a person feels he or she needs a substance to function or feel comfortable. An example is needing alcohol to feel relaxed in social situations, or needing to be high to enjoy sex.

Some people can become addicted to gambling, accessing pornography or eating certain foods. But the common feeling is that they need the substance or activity just to be able to cope with daily life and are often thinking of ways to get the substance or the activity.

Physical dependence occurs when a person’s body has adapted to the presence of a substance such as a drug or alcohol. Tolerance has developed, which means that the person needs to use more of the drug to get the same effect. When drug use stops, symptoms of withdrawal occur.

People often think that psychological dependence is not as serious as physical dependence. This is not necessarily true. Cocaine, for example, does not cause physical dependence–but it is considered one of the easiest drugs to get hooked on and one of the hardest to give up.

Why do people keep using?

Substance use can be hard to change. One thing that makes change so difficult is that the immediate effects of substance use tend to be positive. People may feel good, have more confidence and forget about problems. In contrast, the problems from use might not be obvious for some time.

People may come to rely on the effects of substances to bring short-term relief from difficult or painful feelings. The effects of substances can make problems seem less important, or make it seem easier to talk and to be with others. People may come to believe that they cannot function or make it through the day without drugs. When people use substances to escape or change the way they feel, using can become a habit, which can be hard to break.

Continued substance use, especially heavy use, can cause changes in the body and brain. If people develop physical dependence and then stop using, they may experience distressing symptoms of withdrawal. Changes to the brain may be lasting. These changes may be why people continue to crave substances and slip back into substance use long after they have stopped using.

When people who are addicted stop their substance use, they often compare the experience to leaving a relationship that was very important to them.

Alex began using heroin more than 10 years ago. Getting money to buy drugs was always a problem. He grew tired of the stress of always needing to score, and of knowing that if he got arrested again, he’d go to jail. Still, deciding to leave heroin and try methadone treatment was hard. Once the treatment became routine, he felt bored and didn’t know what to do with his time. He wished he could go back to using, but was afraid of what would happen if he did. His counsellor helped Alex to think about what he wanted from life. Alex enrolled in school and got a part-time job. Soon after, he started a new relationship with someone he trusted. Some days are still a struggle, but with time, and keeping busy, it gets easier.

Do I really have a problem?

It is often difficult to know whether the problem behavior that you are seeing in others or experiencing in yourself is really addiction. Whether we are talking about drug and alcohol addiction, substance abuse, compulsive overeating, gambling problems, internet addiction or addiction to pornography, people are wondering if their problems are really something that needs to be treated.

There are some common signs that indicate addiction is present and these include a loss of control over the substance or the coping strategy, repeatedly engaging in the behavior even in the presence of great harm to self, work or family relationships, and increasing tolerance to a substance such as alcohol or drugs.

If the above symptoms are present in yourself or someone that you care about it is best to seek out a counsellor at WayPoint Counselling offices in Victoria, contact your physician, speak to someone at your church, or someone else that you trust. A skilled therapist will be able to complete an assessment while your doctor may ask you to complete a questionnaire to determine whether or not you are really addicted.

Addiction Counselling and Treatment

Many treatment options exist to address addiction, substance abuse, and other compulsive behaviors. There are 12 step programs available free of charge to anyone who wishes to access them and these are available in most communities. There are also residential treatment options to treat addictions, where individuals go to live for a period of time, generally between a few weeks and a few months, to learn about addiction and how to live a life free from drug and alcohol abuse, and other addiction problems.

Many people do not have the time or financial resources to access residential treatment and choose to stay at home, continue working or caring for their families, and attend counselling in the Victoria to address their addiction problems. The counsellors at WayPoint Counselling are all trained and skilled in helping clients to deal with their concerns about addiction.

For many people, drugs, alcohol, food, sex, internet, gambling etc., starts off as something fun to do or a way to blow off steam at the end of a difficult day. In some situations, these behaviors can take over as the primary way to cope with difficulties in life and eventually become the only coping strategy used. In cases like this, the counsellors at WayPoint Counselling assist clients to identify the problem areas in their lives and then learn healthier coping strategies to deal with their challenges. Over time, these new behaviors become easier to access and more comfortable to practice.

If you are wondering whether addiction counselling and treatment in Victoria might be right for you, please call the WayPoint Counselling to inquire about a free 30 minute consultation.

You may also send an email to info@waypointcounselling.ca to ask about a convenient time to set up a meeting to talk about finding healthier ways to cope with addiction, drug abuse, compulsive overeating, gambling problems, or anything else that seems to have gotten out of control and taken over too much of your life.

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