The chosen topic for my essay is addiction, and the primary aim is to address the given criteria. I will be presenting my understanding of the issues surrounding addiction, and will attempt to demonstrate my growing awareness of the subject, by sharing my thoughts feelings and experiences.
I will also be looking at the issues that might face a person-centred counsellor in relation to practise and evaluating the relevance of person-centred theory to the issue of addiction, as I perceive it.There will be a compare and contrast to another model, in this case, alcoholics anonymous, and I will be evaluating both the models, in terms of culture and diversity. When talking about addiction to substances I feel there needs to be some clarification about the terms ‘use’, ‘misuse’ and ‘abuse’. A person that has an addiction, for example, to drugs, is often referred to as participating in ‘drug abuse’, but this makes little sense to me.Can it be said that a person who over-eats and finds comfort in food, indulges in ‘food abuse’, or a person that becomes addicted to going to the gym, as a result of the endorphin release and mood lift it provides, is participating in ‘gym abuse’? This is not a general association that is made “..
. yet the person who overuses a chemical, seeks a chemical to feel more alive, or spends money on chasing the chemical rather than on household needs is called a ‘drug abuser’. ” (Bryant-Jefferies, 2003, pp7,b). I have a choice and it is this choice that may cause a problem.
Then there is the term ‘misuse’, is the person misusing that substance? “To misuse something is in effect to use it for a purpose other than that for which it was created. ” (Bryant-Jefferies, 2003, pp7,c). The purpose of most drugs is to provide a psychological experience, more energy or relaxation, and this is why they are taken, so it would seem to me, that this term is also inappropriate. We are then left with use, which to me seems to be an appropriate term, as “…
people use drugs to gain an experience…” (Bryant-Jefferies, 2003, pp7,d), and continue the use to attain that experience or, due to the addictive nature of certain substances, keep using so as not to experience withdrawal reactions, which can be distressing and even life-threatening, in the case of alcohol. Many people, use drugs at a recreational level and remain drug users, whilst there are “.
.. a large number of people for whom these activities become their daily realities they struggle to maintain their habit, or people for whom habitual drug use generates difficulties in their lives..
.” (Bryant-Jefferies, 2003, pp 7,e), this group can be classified as ‘problem users’. How does society view addiction, which has become a worldwide problem that has been on the increase in recent years, for example, “..
. it is estimated 141 million people worldwide are drug abusers. ” (Bryant-Jefferies, 2003, pp vii, f). I think that the media being a powerful and worldwide medium has a lot of influence, they play a major part in manipulating the way society views issues.I feel the media has enabled a much needed growth of awareness on the issue of addiction and the problems associated with it, but also allows people in control and positions of power to impose their views and ideas on society.
When it comes to addiction I feel that the media can and has installed a lot of prejudices, judgements, stereotyping and labelling into society. Problem users are being cast into a box labelled addiction and losing their individuality and personhood, and the very real struggle they face on a daily basis, is lost in a sea of politics, laws, policies and initiatives.Addictions to drugs in particular, I feel are judged very harshly, as they are illegal, which adds a dimension; the person is willingly breaking the law on a regular basis, which in some peoples minds enforces the idea of the ‘addicts’ being evil and bad.
I would have to admit that I have, in the past formed views based on what I have encountered in the media; I trusted what I read or saw was real. But views and opinions were also formed through family, community, peers and school.I made judgements and held prejudices, in line with what I was taught; the appropriate way to live and behave, and at that time I had no need to have any greater understanding as it was so far away from my world, and just wanted to fit in. I believed the stereotyping that was especially rife in my culture, and which I experienced around me. Views such as addicts were bad people who did it by choice; they were selfish and could stop if they wanted, but preferred that life, without regard for themselves or the people around them.They were the lower classes, unemployed, criminals, coming from dysfunctional families, living on estates, single mums, yobs.
It surprises me now to reflect on my views and opinions as they were before, and it’s difficult to write about without feeling guilty and a little ashamed, this is because my views are so different now and its shocking to think I ever thought that way, but I had to face all my prejudices and judgements when I discovered that my ex partner was a problem drug-user, and it was a very challenging time for me.When I was faced with his heroine addiction, my misunderstanding and lack of knowledge led me to concentrate on the behaviour, and I thought it was just to do with the experience it provided; ‘the buzz’ was good and I felt he had got hooked to that feeling; it was more about the routine that he had fallen into and the physical addiction that this had created. This led me to believe he was being selfish, as it was a behaviour that he could change, but was unwilling to. I feel that a lot of people have this misunderstanding, and this may have something to do with the view society have.A lot of ‘treatment’ options available focus on specific treatment reduction, tackling the behaviour; to change it, I guess the logic is, changing the behaviour means getting rid of the addiction and that is the priority according to society. For me, this reinforces that the problem lies on the surface; the person becomes an addiction to ‘treat’, if the focus were to be shifted to the person, the individual; it may become clearer the addiction is only a presenting ‘symptom’, a behaviour “…
that has its roots in all kinds of emotional difficulties and distorted self-concepts stemming from conditional experiences, for instance, the negative and judgemental reactions of significant others, or significant losses and other traumatic experiences. ” (Bryant-Jefferies, 2001, pp13,a). I feel focusing on the addiction alone, takes away from the impact it may be having on the persons life; their day to day living, family, friends, work, financial situation and health, this may cause further distress, encouraging addictive behaviour.Being in counselling for over a year and working through my own issues, within the person-centred framework has proven to me, how effective the approach is. As a relational therapy the PCA to counselling believes “… that the focus is on the client, on the person him or herself,.
.. ” (Bryant-Jefferies, 2001, pp17, b), this means; in counselling the focus is not on specific symptom reduction, but on the client, and the very individual subjective world each client will bring to therapy.This is not to say specific symptom reduction will not occur; if it does, it is likely to be as a consequence of other changes; it is interesting to note that “.
.. often such symptom reduction is one of the consequences of a holistic therapy even though none of the therapeutic process has actively worked on the symptom. ” (Mearns and Cooper, 2005, pp 162,a).
In my therapy this has been a huge benefit, I am not pushed to talk about anything, there is no direction or pressure, it has been entirely up to me to lead the sessions, which has given me the space and time I needed to feel safe, to explore issues such as my self harm.The central hypothesis of the PCA states “… the individual has within himself or herself vast resources for self-understanding, for altering his or her self-concept, attitudes, and self-directed behaviour…
” (Kirschenbaum and Henderson, 1990, pp135,a). in effect this means the client has what they need within them to create change, which to me indicates that the PCA can useful in any counselling setting, including working with clients that have addictions. The therapy is not concerned with addressing the clients addiction, but, providing a “..
. growth-promoting climate…
” (Kirschenbaum and Henderson, 1990, pp135,b), established with the core conditions, that are integrated into the counsellors way of being. The presence of these facilitative conditions is believed to promote the client’s “… changes in personality and behaviour. ” (Kirschenbaum and Henderson, 1990, pp 136,c).
It is the client that brings about the changes in him or herself, this is conducive to the person-centred belief that all individuals have an actualizing tendency “… the tendency to grow, to develop, to realise its full potential. ” (Kirschenbaum and Henderson, 1990, pp 137,d).