We are all addicts in some form or another.  Yet whether our addiction is to coffee, heroin, video games, the internet, or food, addiction is always reaching for the wrong thing.  The beloved “object” is always an inner, unconscious, attempt to fill some kind of a void in ourselves that is calling for something else, and that’s why it never quite satisfies.

The role of addiction counselling is, as I see it, to help you become conscious of the role the addiction is playing in your life, and to discover the parts of yourself that are being suppressed in the process.  Addictions do not only harm our outer relationships, but our inner ones, for our energies are caught in ever-repeating, self-defeating cycles.  The well-worn tracks of addiction always take us on a ride that returns to the same station.  Counselling can help us discover a means to arrive somewhere new.

Even if only temporarily so, addictive behaviors are instigated by, and charged with, a great deal of energy.  Our palms start to sweat, our emotions smoulder and yearn.  Withdrawing this energy from our addiction means suffering a lack of control.  Twelve step programs can be a big help in this challenging process, because they provide not only structure, but the human relationships that sustain the effort.

But when addictions continue to persist, it can also be helpful to look at what is unconsciously driving the addiction.  A good counselling relationship can, of course, help provide some valuable structure and support.  But it can also bring a trained ally who can help you discover why the addictive behavior has such a powerful hold.  In the process, we regain energy that is caught up in the repetitive behavior, as well as discover parts of ourselves that haven’t been able to live.  Thus, working on our addictions is always a path to becoming more of who we are, and it’s both deeply personal and healing.

I believe that anyone can quit their addictions as long as they want to– badly and deeply enough.  One may try to quit a thousand times, but it’s those who keep trying who ultimately do.  This is, of course, not a new thought, for as Rumi wrote in the 13th century:

Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving — it doesn’t matter,
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times,
Come, come again, come.

Read more about common problems: Grief and Loss

A person contemplating life on a Vancouver Island beach.