Addiction Counselling Specialist
My name is Brad and I am a registered member of the British Association of Counsellors & Psychotherapist (MBACP). I specialise in Addiction Counselling & Therapy, working out of offices in the areas of Brighton and Maidstone. I have worked in the field of addiction involving substance use and mis-use for over 14 years now and have known addiction myself.
I studied counselling on a Post-Graduate Integrative Diploma course at Northbrook College in Worthing under Ivan Thorpe, a highly regarded, respected and loved member within the therapeutic community and profession. Now retired he will be sorely missed. He gave generously of his time and I learnt a lot from him and I’m very grateful that I had the chance to study under his tutelage before he retired.
I came to counselling after many years of working in many different fields and getting caught up in addictive behaviours and practices myself. I addressed my issues using counselling and self analysis and eventually arrived in a place where I felt able to lead a fulfilling life free of the obsessive compulsion to continually alter my consciousness that haunts so many of us.
Substance Abuse Counselling
Much is made, quite rightly in my opinion, about substance use as a form of self medication. Addicts self medicate to ease their pain and the question then becomes not so much why the addiction but why the pain?
A common defence is to puff ourselves up with false pride, to over compensate by adopting an inflated, distorted view of our own, or other peoples, worth and importance when all the time we’re feeling afraid, sad, desolate, lost and alone but we won’t acknowledge it because we can’t, it’s too much.
We twist and contort ourselves into parodies of ourselves and attack those who won’t accept this as being who we really are.
We become embittered towards those who, whether deliberately or not, remind us of who we’d like to be as we ceaselessly work on constructing our defensive false selves. The more we lose sight of our true selves the more we believe the false is true; we are in the process of becoming inauthentic, and it never feels right or good. Paradoxically, however, we plunge back into the false self with a gusto and a commitment for self preservation even though what we’re doing is killing us. Rather than tending to our wounds we build or very own Frankenstein’s monster to inhabit and scare people and pain away. It’s quite an effort; a huge contortion you could say?
Counselling for Drinking Problems
“The contortions we go through just not to be ourselves for a while” – Keith Richards
The integrative approach to therapy proposes looking at problems in living from an existential humanistic perspective regarding the person as the expert on themselves. What this means is that you are the one who potentially knows yourself the best and with help you can find yourself again without the anaesthetic you’ve become accustomed to using to numb the pain.
“Alcohol is the anaesthetic that gets us through the operation of life” – George Bernard Shaw
If we lose sight of the true authentic us confusion reigns but our substance of choice seems to clear up the confusion; but all it really does is turn off the light.
Years of habitual medicating distances us from any other way of being and locks us into a pattern that we feel powerless to change.
The habit overtakes us and we believe our behaviour defines us:
“I drink therefore I am”.
“I take drugs therefore I am”
“I self harm therefore I am”
“I gamble therefore I am”
“I’m addicted therefore I am”
This is when the work can start and the exploration begin, but we must commit to it.
We want to change, but stepping out from behind the defensive self abusive behaviours and attitudes towards self and others that we have cultivated and entrenched through our addictive behaviours and acting outs is frightening and challenging, and this is when we need help and support to shine the light on our hidden, shadowy corners within and find our lost hopes and dreams and aspirations.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
To become who we truly are, not to perpetuate the false self who we thought we had to be to survive, to get by, to be acknowledged and allowed to go on.
These can, and almost always are, an admix of societal, cultural and interpersonal pressures that have been brought to bear on us and that we have erroneously accepted as fundamental truths and they don’t sit well within us.
But without help and support we can miss the certainty of our former habituated lifestyle of compulsive ritualistic addictive behaviour and mistakenly believe we have lost ourselves when actually we are recovering our true identity from beneath the carnage of abandonment.
The certainty of any habit provides security in and of itself whether it’s healthy or self efficacious or not and this can be very confusing especially without support from counselling/therapy/group work/meetings, friends and family but ultimately support from ourselves.
Without this support we can be quickly driven back into the ever waiting arms of the habit we’re trying to escape. Support will help us write our own uniquely tailored recovery plan, in our own words and addressing our own individual needs, wants and aspirations.
There is no one size fits all, and never has been. The dogmatic following of someone else’s plan may work initially but it won’t last. It has to be ours. Our solution to our problems lies in our understanding of its unique applicability to our experiential journey through life to the point where we are now.
Our plan needs to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed – SMART. Our plan needs to have in it our desire to change and explicable, understandable reasons for doing so. This will become apparent once we challenge our motivations for behaving as we do; there’s always something in it for the addict, a pay off, a reward, an end in itself that may as yet not be fully uncovered or realised.
“Recovering before uncovering” means abstaining from the behavioural process or ritual, or the substance mis-use to allow our awareness to heighten. This allows our true original self to emerge from beneath the blanket of addictive behaviours and substance mis-use. During this time our strength will be tested and our will to continue will be challenged by what feels like a new reality but is really the shedding of an illusory lifestyle dominated by addiction and addictive behaviours and rituals. This is where treatment and recovery and counselling come to our aid.
Old habits die hard, the question is are we going to die before them or after them? It really is that straight forward. Who were we, truly, originally and how do we reclaim that lost person? What caused our pain that we need to self medicate away? Locate the wound and tend to it; take away the pain. What has become of our dreams, beliefs, values, philosophical outlooks? How to live without ritualistic self injurious addictive behaviours?
Bradley Riddell – MBACP Counsellor/Therapist
Brighton & Maidstone
The philosophy behind Addiction Counselling
Whatever your philosophy, whatever your meaning or truth, if you are reading this there is a more than average chance you feel in need of a change of direction.
Perhaps your life has stopped making sense?
Perhaps the coping mechanisms you have relied on have stopped working or are proving less and less effective?
Perhaps you have experienced a recent trauma or a trauma from the past has come back to haunt you and you’re self medicating to lessen the pain?
Perhaps, and this is not uncommon, you don’t know what’s bothering you but you know there’s something that’s just not quite right and you can’t remember feeling like this in the past. So what’s happening? Maybe you’re self medicating to ease the pain and the more pain you feel the more medication you administer to yourself and the dosages have gotten out of control?
Addiction Counselling is about looking for what’s beneath the surface chaos and addressing and treating it by reprocessing, redefining, rethinking and reforming it.
We become what we think about, consciously AND unconsciously.
If what we think about is inauthentic and false we can’t feel it because it’s shallow, empty, substance-less; it causes dis-ease because it doesn’t mesh and we self-medicate to ease the dis-ease, the pain, the distressing terrible dis-easing pain.
Addiction is always about pain, whatever the chosen substance or behaviour. The question is not “Why the Addiction?” but “Why the Pain?”
Addiction Counselling is about going in search of the source, the root cause or causes of that pain and alleviating it by re-framing, reforming, understanding and analysing where that feeling rightly belongs and how to move forward with our lives with that feeling in it’s rightful place so it doesn’t haunt and hurt us anymore.
We see it, we get to know it, and therefore we can manage it.
It’s never an easy journey, if it was you’d have done it already and moved on. Instead you’re trapped in the remorselessly relentless repetitious cycle of Addiction; indulgence and remorse, false promises and intentions never realised.
Take the first step towards becoming and being the person you would rather be and the person you truly are, lose the self loathing, shame, humiliation, pain and confusion.
Begin your journey to your true self and to the life you would rather be living.