A Call To Empathy In Addiction Treatment
David Hampton ❘
Empathy is a fundamental part of being human. Seeking to understand encourages growth; addiction treatment is served well by empathy.
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When I was 20 years old, I developed a problem with my heart. My heart would race, even when I was sitting in a chair, and the beat would become uneven. It was a terrifying time for me. I had to have multiple tests done and made several visits to the hospital.
I went from an invincible 20-year-old, a weightlifter, runner, and lover of anything physical, to a broken and fearful person who wasn’t sure he was going to wake up the next day.
I’d done a pretty good job of abusing substances before that time and was at risk for severe addiction. So, I stopped using all substances.
I started to read spiritual books and asked myself how I wanted to live my life. I began to appreciate the little things in life. I would stop to watch a bird, a sunset, or the joy of a small child. I slowed down.
For 4 years, I took medication 4 times a day until my heart finally healed.
My heart problem was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Through the years, I’ve counseled a lot of addiction clients. One of the greatest pleasures I get from my work is watching people in recovery achieve a life free of substances and of all the problems that go with them.
I’ve often wondered what separates those who stay sober from those who continue to relapse. What I’ve noticed is that most of the successful people have a relationship with spirituality.
Many people respond fearfully when they hear the word spirituality because they often think that religion judges them harshly. But spirituality can be much more than religion. Whenever you honestly connect with something outside of yourself, that is spirituality.
There are many ways to embrace spirituality in addiction recovery. Joining an anonymous group, like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, can be very spiritual. In these groups, you connect with a community of people who share their innermost selves to each other. Some would even call it “baring your soul.”
There is something about being totally honest with a group of people, or even with 1 person, that has a powerful effect on a person.
Have you ever noticed the relief you feel when you stop lying and tell the truth to someone? It’s like a weight being lifted off your shoulders.
Some people feel spiritual in nature. They take a walk through a forest or sit by a river, watching the animals and enjoying the feeling of sunshine or the beauty of the moon at night. Others feel spiritual when they’re with their pets because pets accept us all the time, no matter what we’ve done. For some, listening to their favorite music is spiritual.
The list goes on and on. You can make almost anything spiritual if you have the right attitude towards it. To embrace spirituality, try doing the following:
Online Addiction Counseling
Start getting support from a licensed therapist from BetterHelp.
Take the Quiz. Get Matched. Begin Therapy.
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Spirituality is about trying new things and doing things differently than you’ve done before. It’s not easy, though; some people resist it.
Some people say, “I hate AA, counseling, and rehab. I don’t need it for recovery.” From what I’ve seen, these are the people who don’t recover or who relapse more often.
It’s humbling to admit your truth to another person; it can also be embarrassing, scary, and emotional. But the prizes, like good health, friends, a job, and a happy life you’ve always wanted, are worth it. So get out there and try being spiritual. You just might change your life!
About the Author: Brian Carberg, LPC, NCC, BCPC
Brian Carberg is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private counseling practice in Connecticut. He is a National Certified Counselor, a Board Certified Professional Counselor in the American Psychotherapy Association, and holds a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Counseling. He has been assisting people in their healing journeys since 1990, serving as a counselor and supervisor in various Mental Health and Addiction programs. For 10 years he worked as a Substance Abuse Counselor and Supervisor in an outpatient treatment program for people addicted to Heroin and other Opiates. In his current private counseling practice, he thoroughly enjoys assisting clients in all stages of recovery from various addictions. He believes today can be the start of the life you want, if you are willing to do the work.
Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.