Addictions / Substance Use


Patterns of communication and unresolved conflict.

Addiction is the process of becoming dependent on a substance or behaviour to the point where it becomes very challenging for someone to limit or stop their use despite recognizing it as problematic. While some addictions cause a more harmful effect on physical health, relationships, and quality of life, all types of addiction impact the pleasure reward mechanism of the brain, making it very difficult for someone to overcome it by themselves. We understand how difficult giving up those forms of coping can be and how challenging the first step to address addiction can be.

Many factors influence the type and severity of addiction, such as the family history of addiction, previous mental health disorders, socio-economic factors, peer pressure, social isolation, early use of substance/ behaviour, type of addiction etc. With time and use, brain mechanisms change, and dependence on the substance/behaviour increases. This is compounded with the fear of stigma from others when opening up about one’s struggles with addiction.

How can addiction counselling help?

Addiction counsellors understand the ambivalence that people may face about whether or not to quit a behaviour or substance, and often exploring this ambivalence is the first stage of treatment. The purpose of working with addiction is not to directly change the behaviour but to examine its purpose- the ‘why’ behind it, what comfort does the addiction offer, and from what can be some of the topics that arise during sessions.

There is typically no one cause for addiction, but often layers underneath that interact with each other, including environment, trauma, life experiences, attachment, medical history, mental health history among many other factors that influence its occurrence and perpetuity. Investigating these layers in a truly non-judgemental and compassionate environment can make the process less overwhelming, and it tends to loosen up the hold of the addiction. Clients make changes at their own pace with the understanding that the process of recovery is often not linear.

Approaches to counselling such as Motivational Interviewing, CBT, and Mindfulness-based relapse prevention aim to meet clients where they are at and support them with whatever their recovery goals may be.

We understand how challenging the first step can be to witness and challenge the habitual stream of thoughts, feelings and behaviours. You do not have to go on this journey alone. Through collaboration, you can open yourself up to the possibility that life can be experienced differently.


Addiction. Dr. Gabor Maté. (2021, August 18). Retrieved from

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2017, October 26). Drug addiction (substance use disorder). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from

Miller, G. (2015). Learning the language of addiction counseling [4th ed.]. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons.

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