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Those Wrestling with Addiction

For those who struggle with addiction and for those who love them it’s not uncommon to feel a sense of hopelessness. Gaining traction and sustaining it in recovery can be confounding and difficult. While every individual brings unique factors into the equation – including life circumstances and personality traits – there exists a wider range of pathways to recovery available now more than ever before.

Common Issues

  • Relapse prevention
  • Craving management
  • Underlying depression/anxiety
  • Broken relationships
  • Trauma
  • Grief and loss
  • Isolation
  • Triggering behavior patterns

For some, reaching a point of hopelessness may be the first step toward finding hope. It’s often when our own knowledge of what to do fails us and we reach the end of ourselves that we reach out for help. This has been the case for countless people to this day who have found a new start through traditional treatment and 12-step recovery programs. These tried and true routes offer mutual self-help, external supports, spirituality, and wisdom to navigate life sober that many find vital to their recovery.

Others, however, don’t find the traditional recovery pathways as effective. This may be due to philosophical difficulties with some 12-step program content as well as more practical roadblocks. Fortunately, the once held belief that one-size-fits-all has now been widely dismissed by the understanding that there are, in fact, many viable avenues to recovery from addiction.

Multiple Pathways to Recovery

Modern brain research on the neurobiology of addiction suggests that the age old image of an egg frying in a pan – used to describe your brain on drugs – is both a misnomer and a disservice. The effects of drug use on the brain are less like a broken egg and more like a broken leg. The brain can heal from addiction much more than we used to think.

Recovery from addiction has now come to be seen as accessible via multiple, varied pathways, which are all a cause for celebration. There are self-help groups that offer alternatives to 12-step models including Smart Recovery, Celebrate Recovery, and Refuge Recovery. There are medications known to be much more effective at curbing cravings than those in the past. The integration of brain science with mindfulness-based techniques has greatly enhanced relapse-prevention strategies. Even those who take exception to abstinence-based recovery are discovering through these pathways that successfully managing and moderating their substance use is more possible than once thought.

Common Skills Learned in Counseling 

  • How to navigate cravings and opportunities to use
  • How to cope with trauma, anxiety, and depression
  • How to repair damaged relationships
  • How to build supportive recovery networks
  • How to set life goals to enhance recovery efforts

Working with an experienced therapist can help you select the right path for you and can help you to put recovery skills to work. If you’ve tried recovery before and it hasn’t stuck there’s still hope for you. It may be that you weren’t ready at the time. It may also be, however, that the range of options wasn’t broad enough at that time to meet your needs. In either case, there are options and there is hope.

Multiple Pathways

  • Abstinence vs. moderation
  • Peer-supported vs. going solo
  • 12-step vs. other models
  • Treatment-assisted vs. natural
  • Medication-assisted vs. natural
  • Identity-based vs. neutral identity
  • Incremental change vs. climactic change
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