Addiction is one of the most common and yet most difficult issues in mental health. It is often thought of as a specialist area that can only be treated by those who have personal experience of addiction. This workshop will explore definitions, controversies, and consensus on both causes and clinical implications. As well considering definitions from various sources (NHS, NICE, 12-Step, trauma literature, for example), we will draw out some implications for the practice for therapists and counsellors. Those evidence-based implications are often counter to our intuition: for example, clinicians who have overcome addictions themselves are no more effective at helping clients than those who have no personal experience of addiction. We will conclude by looking at the evidence for 12-step recovery, and how it sits alongside motivational interviewing and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as part of the suite of interventions recommended by the NHS and the NICE clinical guidelines.
By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:
- Describe two or three well accepted definitions of addiction and compare and contrast them.
- Understand the importance of using evidence to guide our choices about how to work with those who are addicted and understand better when we might be able to help and when we might need to refer on.
- Recognise that while addiction has some unique characteristics, it can also be thought of as a classic psychological problem: why do we persist in patterns of behaviour that lead to harmful consequences, and what can we do about that?