Addiction and Counselling


Human civilisation has used mind or mood altering substance since the beginning of recorded history. History books are full of stories of great emperors who were addicted to mind altering substances like alcohol, opium etc.

Substance addiction, abuse and misuse are a multifaceted problem that varies across cultures and families. It is a problem that affects everyone. Even though the World Health Organisation has recognised it as a disease, still many people around the world including India are not at all clear about this disease. Addiction was and is still considered a social stigma and the society at large looks at addicts with contempt and treats them as untouchables. This kind of treatment is not at all fair to the addicts.

Addiction is just one of the symptoms of the disease, the person is suffering from. We must remember that it destroys an addict physically, mentally, socially and spiritually, as well as it takes a toll on the family members too.

Since the family members are not clear about the disease, therefore in most of the cases they are confused about which approach to take in treating the affected person. Either they take him to a doctor or psychiatrist who conducts all sorts of tests on the patient and then prescribes some drugs to control or stop the disease or people get mislead by ads on the television about some special drugs exclusively made for stopping addiction and they go for it. When all these things doesnít yield the expected results, then only most of them take the affected person to a rehab centre or a counselling psychologist

We have to remember that the complexity of the problem has resulted in no single treatment method evolving as most effective for health distressed individuals suffering the consequences of substance addiction. However recent researches have find that some approaches like counselling and group therapy are far more effective than others for addicts and their family members. A case in point is the success of groups like alcoholic anonymous.

All counsellors whether they work in the field of substance abuse counselling or in the general field of psychotherapy will encounter issues of substance abuse with many of their clients. Keeping in mind the economic costs and the human suffering of substance abuse, it seems imperative that counsellors be trained in all aspects of substance addiction intervention and prevention. It is necessary that all professionals dealing in mental health understand the process of abuse and addiction. The professional must be aware of psychological and physiological effects of addiction on the human brain as well as on the human behaviour.

A counsellor has to devise different treatment strategies according to the patientsí case history and learn to understand the feelings and the hidden messages behind what the patient is trying to communicate to him. The counsellor has to become the guiding light and make the other person learn to differentiate between right and wrong. It is he who has to make the patient understand the value of his life for himself and his family members, because when an addict comes for treatment, his self-esteem is at an all-time low and with no hopes at all. It is the job of the counsellor to instil self-confidence and make the patient understand that this is not the end of the road.

Counselling requires patience and it is the job of the counsellor to unearth the exact cause or causes behind the personís addiction and then accordingly guide the patient, as well as his/her family members. No doubt the willingness of the person to get himself treated is an important factor in speeding up the recovery process. The greatest fruit for the counsellor and the patient will be total abstinence from using any drugs in the future and full recovery which happens slowly and gradually.

Nowadays the field of a counselling psychology is becoming very vast and lucrative and one can opt to make a full time career out of it.There is a heavy demand for them in hospitals as well as rehab centres. But there are certain things one should keep in mind before making fulltime career out of it.This profession is not about money, but it is about faith , the faith the addict and his family members have put on the counsellor to help him lead a normal life again, it is about saving lives and serving the society at large.

By Avinash Sharma, MAPC

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