Addiction is a topic that is very close to my heart and I believe that it should be approached with care, empathy and an understanding that it is not a choice but a disease that can pull you into a mindset of tunnel vision; a certain unrest until the thing you crave has been drank, eaten, sniffed, etc. and after the thing that you thought would leave a sense of fullness and satisfaction, ends up leaving you emptier than before.
Having worked closely with many sufferers of an addiction I started to realise that the things that they spoke about I really connected to. The rush of feeling of instant happiness that leaves so quickly after when the guilt starts kicking in. The sudden urge to hide any evidence of bottles or the scent of weed from others. I recognised these feelings and behaviours in myself. Was I an addict too? The short answer to that is yes, I am. My ‘drug of choice’ is food, in particularly sweet things and it wasn’t until being the counsellor in the session, I really realised this.
Many clients of mine have mentioned attending various adaptations of Alcoholics Anonymous such as Cocaine Anonymous, Co-Dependants Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous all with the same underlying process; the 12 step programme.
I found that many of these clients would speak to me about meetings they had gone to and how it had helped them to open up and I found myself blindly agreeing that this was a good step for them to take in their recovery. Hang on a minute; id never been to one of these meetings! I thought to myself that this must change and found myself a group that was ‘open’ to those who don’t necessarily share that addiction. Everybody there seemed friendly and welcoming enough however I started to feel uncomfortable with the religious context. I am an atheist but respect the beliefs of everyone, being a person centred counsellor, I feel that everyone should have a choice. However, I felt that it would be very difficult to become really into Anonymous meetings if you didn’t follow the Christianity belief system as there was a lot of talk about God and a ‘higher power’. Personally, I find it to be a little demoralising to think that there is a higher power who will lead the way as I think feeling that you have your own potential to aid your recovery is much more empowering.
I left thinking that maybe I didn’t have a strong connection with it as it was not my addiction – food is! I found a small Over Eaters Anonymous meeting and decided to go in with a clear mind. We got into the session and were all encouraged to share why we were there. I was surprised that after I had spoken nobody commented or had any encouraging words to say. It was just left out there like a discarded cigarette butt and no recognition or acknowledgement that I had even shared anything. This was not something I felt comfortable with at all. I had felt like I’d been given promises of support and understanding and was greeted with the cold shoulder and disregard for my thoughts and feelings.
After this experience, I have vowed that I would continue to really listen to my clients and not just brush it off as nothing but to acknowledge what is going on in their world. I’m not saying that AA is a bad thing for everyone but I just didn’t agree with their ways. There I said it, I don't like AA.