Psynamo Group Professional Mental Health Practice

Addictions Counselling

We offer caring, empathic, confidential and efficacy-based addictions counselling services for a range of presenting issues including drug, alcohol, cigarette/cigar, gambling, internet and process addictions. 

Addiction is a complex disorder that requires treatment through multiple stages of care and rehabilitation. We utilise a general flow for addictions counselling that would usually follow these steps;

Addictions Counselling Process

  1. Diagnosing problems
  2. Setting appropriate goals
  3. Specifying objectives
  4. Generating and deciding among alternatives
  5. Preparing action plans
  6. Implementing and evaluating plans

Counselling services can be carried out at ay point in the addictions recovery process starting with 1-1 counseling, group or family counselling or our counsellors can work alongside existing therapeutic programmes to offer after treatment care, continuing care and relapse preventions.

Individual addictions counselling drug use for example, centres on either total abstinence or the minimization of drug use and a focus on solutions to cease destructive behaviors and unhealthy relationships. A recovery program with an emphasis on short-term goals and strategies to change patterns of behavior is structured for the individuals needs. There are a number of approaches taken by addiction counselors in order to help an addicted person to achieve their goals, but common approaches include Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI) and 12-step programme participation.

Group addictions counselling and therapy can also be a successful way to help promote a drug free lifestyle. Groups can be highly effective as there is often a unique energy, which promotes a beneficial support system for each other, and when integrated with other individualised forms of care can significantly increase the chances of long-term recovery.

We work wth a variety of modalities when supporting all counselling clients but specifically use the following in support of addictions counselling.

Addictions Counselling Therapies

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. CBT works under the assumption that your beliefs influence your emotions and your behavior and that by identifying and addressing problematic thoughts you can help change your behavior and experiences for the better. CBT attempts to help clients recognize, avoid and cope. That is, recognize the situations in which they are most likely to use drugs, avoid these situations, and cope more effectively with a range of problems and problematic behaviors associated with substance abuse.

Motivational Interviewing (MI) 

MI is a therapeutic style intended to help clinicians work with clients to address their ambivalence. While conducting a motivational interview, the clinician is directive yet client centered, with the goal of eliciting self-motivational statements and behavioral change from the client, and seeking to create client discrepancy to enhance motivation for positive change.

Client-Centered Therapy

Client-centered therapy, also known as person-centered therapy, is a non-directive form of talk therapy. Clients often do look to their therapists for some type of guidance or direction. Self-direction plays a vital part of client-centered therapy and the therapeutic relationship could lead to insights and lasting changes in a client.

What are Addictions?

We all come into contact with addiction, whether it is personally, within the bounds of family and friends, or amongst our community. Addiction and the harm it causes can be devastating for those affected and the people surrounding them. Fundamentally, addiction is a condition distinguished by compulsive and uncontrollable engagement in rewarding stimuli despite harmful and negative consequences. When a person consumes a substance such as alcohol, nicotine and cocaine or participates in an activity such as gambling, sex or shopping it can be enjoyable and gratifying but when continued it may become compulsive and potentially interfere with normal life experiences. Most addictive behavior which is at the time both rewarding and reinforcing can sometimes lead to consequential problems at home, work, school, or socially and unfortunately human will power is totally overwhelmed by the addiction. Its cause is not a direct exploration for pleasure or questioning one’s morality of strength of character, as it is believed there are two causes for addiction.

Firstly, addiction is a chronic-progressive-primary disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations (American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2013). Genetic factors produce an imbalance in the reward circuitry, causing the addict to experience negative or diminished effect when pursuing pleasure and reward. Secondly, it can be a biological process, a habit that becomes an addiction. Prolonged substance abuse can cause changes in the brain, which result in developing an addiction.

While quantity and frequency of substance abuse are significant components, addiction is more precisely characterized by the lack of ability to consistently abstain from substances with a reduction in reduced behavior control. There are many other detrimental problems experienced such as cravings, health issues, diminished identification of critical complications with one’s conduct, inter personal relationships are impacted and emotional reaction to others can be diminished with a constant distraction of receiving the reward of substance use, despite its damaging consequences. Without treatment and commitment to recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can develop in disablement or premature death. Unfortunately addiction often entails cycles of relapse and remission, if not treated the chronic condition will linger and symptoms will return.

Addiction is a chronic disease causing long term impairment to the brain, causing changes in brain functioning and cognitive processes causing critical physical complications if treatment is not undergone. An addict will typically begin to use recreationally and experiment with sporadic use, but overtime will increase the usage and progressively develop a tolerance. Tolerance occurs when a physical-biological dependence which results from chronic use of a drug, the drug no longer has the same effect and negative physical symptoms of withdrawal result from abrupt discontinuation or dosage reduction. Unfortunately for the user the euphoria and pleasure experienced in the onset will diminish over time and the addict will find himself or herself pursuing the high. The higher the dosage used, the duration of use and the age at when use began are predictive elements of physical dependence and thus creating severe and the intensity of the withdrawal, these acute withdrawal symptoms can last for days, weeks or even months.

Withdrawal is a psychological and physical condition caused by the abrupt cessation of the use of a drug in a habituated person.

The difference between physical addiction and psychological addiction:

Physical Addiction

If your body cells can’t operate without a drug you have become physically dependent on and when there is an onset of depletion of the substance from the body the person will experience painful withdrawal symptoms. This pain is experienced by those who try to stop using drugs by going “cold turkey” which is very difficult, due to the withdrawals side effects which can include tremors, chills, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and body aches. As a result the easiest way to deal with this unbearable condition is to take more drugs, which creates a vicious cycle.

Psychological Addiction

A psychological addiction is defined as a impulse or perceived need to use. For example, someone addicted to marijuana may believe they need the drug so they are able to fall asleep immediately and to have a peaceful sleep. Although, it is possible for them to eventually fall asleep without the drug they will do so without the physical exposure to the physical effects of withdrawal.    

Identifying signs of addiction is based on three categories, Behavioral, Psychological and Physical.

Physical Warning Signs

  • Blood Shot Eyes
  • Drastic changes in appetite- weight loss & weight gain
  • Deterioration in physical looks, hygiene and grooming
  • Shifts in sleep patterns
  • Coughing
  • Pupils may become dilated
  • Tremors, slurred speech, impaired coordination
  • Unusual smells - breath, body or clothing

Behavioral Warning Signs

  • Changes friends and hobbies - loss of interest
  • Isolating oneself in order to hide drug or alcohol use
  • Drop in attendance work school- letting responsibility slide, missing appointments
  • Financial problems - stealing
  • Frequently getting into trouble fights, accidents, illegal activities
  • Repeated unexplained outings, often with a sense of urgency - change in daily routine
  • Secretive, lying about where you are, where you are going, where you have been
  • Strained relationships
  • Disappear for long periods of time

Psychological Warning Signs

  • Appearing fearful, anxious, or paranoid without reason
  • Appearing lethargic or spaced out
  • Changes in energy suddenly and extremely tired or energetic
  • Lack of motivation
  • Sudden mood swings, angry outbursts which are uncharacteristic