What Can the Psychologist Mean to me On my Path Out of Addiction?

Many people who are substance dependent have a double diagnosis. Problems such as social phobia, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc may underlie the substance dependence. It doesn’t matter which came first, both require attention. The correct procedure would be to first undergo withdrawal from the substance in order to get a clear image of the possible underlying psychiatric problem. If present, the problem can be treated.

One direction is to be admitted to a facility which caters specifically for substance withdrawal. The psychiatrist manages the withdrawal process and the psychologist starts with psycho-therapy, family intervention, guidance, psycho-education, etc. (A social worker and occupational therapist are often also involved).

It is important that one does not merely substitute one substance for another (e.g becoming addicted to strong tranquilizers) and that attempts are made to provide only the most necessary medication. Admittance can vary from a few days to nine months, depending on the substance.

The withdrawal from the substance (and the use of medication if required) is merely the beginning of the process; because the person and his/her circumstances remain the same. This is where the psychologist’s therapy and joining support groups are of immense value.

Therapy continues long after one is discharged. This could include the reflection of feelings, the integration of inner parts, cognitive therapy aimed at controlling one’s thoughts, behavioral therapy to practice new capabilities and focus techniques. Various other therapeutic interventions which have not been discussed here, could be added to this list, including clinical hypnotherapy.



It is a complex process which requires lots of practice and support. Some people may try to sabotage your rehabilitation and such ‘friends’ are left behind, there may be setbacks but each time you try again. You are motivated by each day that you stay clean/dry even when the cravings get uncontrollable. Emotions of rage, depression and anxiety are experienced as rehabilitation includes loss. This continues until eventually your outlook on life and your lifestyle (your profit) have become automatic and effortless.

About thatpsychologist

Clinical Psychologist in private practice in George and Mossel-Bay Kliniese Sielkundige in privaat praktyk op George en Mosselbaai.

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