Addictions are pain-relievers, they are band-aids on gunshot wounds.  For some individuals, something has hurt them.  Something has been taken away from them.  In many cases, safety itself has been taken away.  Addiction and some form of trauma usually go hand-in-hand.  The desperate search to find what safety means to someone and fill the dark, painful chasm left behind can be long and hard, but not impossible.  Many turn to different kinds of addictions to get some relief from that struggle, even if only for a moment.  Shame develops from the internal struggle between who someone is and who they want to be so badly.  Often, addictions begin as benign, pleasurable activities, but twist into the barriers stopping someone from being who they truly are.  It becomes Einstein’s definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again, but wondering why it does not work as it used to.  If that one thing is the only way someone knows to deal with problems and all they have ever done, what do they do when their only solution becomes the problem?

The physical aspects of addiction are absolutely real but usually less complicated.  In my experience, even the most extreme cases of withdrawals I have seen the last two- or three-weeks following abstinence.  There are various programs to respond to the physical withdrawal symptoms, but once the addiction is taken away (in this case substances), what is there to replace it?  A vacuum is created all over again, not much has really changed, other than someone’s only coping skill and pain-reliever has been taken away from them.

Much like the gender disparity in looking for help in general, many decide to not look for addictions support because the fear of the social stigma and shame associated with addiction is too great.  With that in mind, I work to build a connection with someone first and foremost, celebrate them for finding the strength to take arguably the hardest step, reaching out.  Fear drives ostracism and punishment, so I am honoured to accompany someone in taking a fearless look at what addiction truly means to them and the barriers they see in their way.  I work with someone to develop different coping skills to find relief in a way they can feel good about, and then, from a place of stability and strength, explore what is causing such pain and driving the need for a painkiller. 

To make a long story short, I try to let someone be exactly who they are, respecting their resilience in the face of the trauma they have lived with, and working with them to understand how to replace what was taken from them, their sense of safety.

~ Bill