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Psychologist's Office

Dependency Treatment

Addiction and Recovery - A Tailormade Approach

When undertaking the work of treating addiction, it is wise and good practice to take a broad and open minded approach. Addiction or substance dependency knows no bounds of who or whom it can affect. A very complex area of human life, the effective treatment of addictive behaviour is sensitive to many areas of consideration and needs to be closely focused on the very fine details of a persons life to be understood and treated effectively. Attention to detail and a broad understanding of addictive theory is crucial in providing adequate treatment and support to individuals who are ready to take responsibility for change in their lives.


Approaches to the treatment and understanding of addictive behavior have changed dramatically over the last few decades. Addiction is now less frequently understood as a disease, but is more commonly being understood and generally accepted to have a multitude of contributing factors. In terms of treatment, it therefore stands that an effective approach should reflect this.


Substance or alcohol dependency  can be best understood as a multi causal process which combines psychological, social and biological factors. It can be considered to be a learnt behaviour that has roots in social norms that at times of distress or where historical issues are traumatic or people are vulnerable has become a distorted way of coping. In the short term drugs may have offered excitement and social kudos, but overtime this behaviour becomes more and more of an adolescent hang up and possible real danger. Some drug use for certain individuals can help regulate an individuals mood and appear to offer support, but as time goes on and underlying contributing factors are not resolved and dependency will emerge, leaving a sense of emptiness always present. 


Addiction and substance dependency are not solely personal conditions, they are also contributed to by social environments, personal history, trauma, cultural norms and learned behaviour. Addicition can also be seen as a malady of the spirit, where drugs or alcohol are utilised as methods of trying to escape from reality, from the pressures of life, or from events which have left their toll on someone. Further, years spent using drugs and/or alcohol can mean that ongoing personal development has taken a back seat, emotional growth suffers and abilities to contend with the demands of adult living remain underevolved. This has a direct impact on primary relationships, career development, self esteem and adult wellbeing. In short - abuse of drugs or alcohol is traded against real life development, personal progress, achievement and social needs.  


It is crucially important in the treatment of substance misuse to provide consistency in care. Sadly, people with issues with drugs and alcohol are often treated with suspicion or as less worthy than others. This can happen in statutory services as well as within families and the public domain. The misunderstanding of the personal aspect of addictive behaviour is a significant problem and often gets in the way of effective treatment. Judgements occur frequently,  even within the care systems established to deal with this specialist field. Often clients report this and it constitutes a significant percentage of private referals. One of the main problems is a 'one size fits all' approach, which may work for some as people are herded toward a satisfactory outcome, but excludes many where a deeper understanding of their isssues is needed. 


Substance dependency takes different forms and is variable from person to person in how it is used or has taken hold over their free will.  The lack of control felt by someone by the time dependency has become established exerts an added emotional weight upon stretched resources and can then lead to further depletions of self esteem, energy, finances and relationships.  It is this which often creates the need to hide behaviour and is the classic divisive issue when it comes to eroding relationships and family dynamics. 


It is at this point that intervention is crucial.  


Effective intervention works on the basis of revealing and making transparent the psychological and behavioural mechanisms that create the depleted, dependent state and reworking them in relation to healthy social functioning. Intervention to be effective needs to be comprehensive and thorough in exploring all contributing factors and any underlying issues. In the case of complex dependendency a dual diagnosis assessment of underlying mental health issues will be necessary to understand the inter realtionship of drugs to the secondary psychological issues and see if replacement medication is required. 


To understand any one client, a thorough assessment is required which then forms the basis for establishing a unique treatment process. Assessment will involve considering all contributing factors, psychological testing, trauma scales and care planning, in doing so a hidden and disturbing condition can begin to make sense and a sense of hope can emerge, over the course of structured treatment insight gives way to understanding and the establishment of self control and the taking of responsibility and better choices emerges. 

'Working with Edward has given me a safe space to re-write my traumatic life story, allowing me the opportunity to shed feelings of blame, guilt, shame and self-loathing. After 46 years this has come as a bit of a revelation, yet Edward has kept me safe throughout this difficult time with genuine understanding and validation. I have felt truly heard in every session and now feel strong enough to start a new journey with the right people around me. Developing a sense of self-worth will allow me to make this journey with love and respect for who I really am - not who I thought I was or who I was told I was.


Seeking help when you are in a vulnerable position can be intimidating and I was no different. However, on meeting Edward any worries I had quickly evaporated. His laid back, flexible and gentle way of working has proved invaluable to me and I would not hesitate to contact him again in the future. To anyone who is contemplating support I would recommend that you contact Edward who holds a wealth of knowledge and experience; ultimately he can help to make sense of this complicated world we live in!'


By establishing this tailored approach, an effective and dynamic approach to assessment and recovery can be taken.

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