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"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear." ~ Mark Twain

Seeking counseling for addiction can be a difficult decision, but also a life changing one. Counseling for addiction does not only address the substance or addictive behaviors, but most importantly it can be used to help the individual work on the true underlying issues that contribute to keeping the addiction going. In addition, counseling can also extend to those indirectly affected by addiction. Today, it is difficult to find someone whose life has not been affected in at least one way: by addiction directly, though a loved one, or through some other manner. Addiction does not only affect the addict. It can have lasting affects on anyone who comes into contact with a person struggling with addiction. Addiction does not discriminate based on race, sex, location, education, economic status, or any other characteristics, yet It continues to be misunderstood and stigmatized.

Almost everyone you meet today has their own beliefs, or views, of addiction, at least I did. There was a time when I viewed anyone with an addiction to be weak, lacking self-control, and to lacking feelings. That, however, was before I began to look past the stereotypes and misconceptions, to see things more objectively. Today I can not count the number of individuals who have played a role in helping me to gain a more realistic view of addiction. I have seen the heartbreak of those who die in their addiction. I have witnessed the struggles of those who repeatedly continue the cycle of recovery and relapse. Then I continue to see the accomplishments of  those who continue to live in recovery day after day building years living life and helping others learn to live life on life’s terms. It continues to be mixture of heartache and celebration, but it is well worth it to see lives and families rebuilt and restored. Living life one day at a time is possible.

Counseling itself can also be viewed as “a waste of time,” “unnecessary,” or “only for the crazy.” On this, I disagree. As Carl Rogers said, “When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good!” Learning to find self in a safe and judgment free environment can be very rewarding. Especially, when considering how easy it can be to lose self when the substance, often a coping strategy that worked for a time, numbs emotions, helps to forget, or helps to fit in, and the labels place on a person by self or others can become one’s identity, no matter how inaccurate. Learning to live life on life’s terms; untangle, identify, and experience feelings; process thoughts; set healthy boundaries; and rebuild and maintain healthy relationships can be overwhelming. That is why the experience, strength and hope of others can be lifesaving. Then in addition, counseling can provide the professional help needed to put the past where it belongs, focus on the present, and open doors for a future. Whether you or someone you know or love struggles with addiction, counseling can help you find acceptance, forgiveness, peace of mind, and hope for a future. Remember that counseling is for self. In counseling you get to decide your goals, and how much effort you want to put into achieving those goals. Growth does not happen when we are comfortable, but it does happen when we are able to be honest with ourselves, put in the effort, and become willing to ask for help and guidance.

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