Addictions Counseling


What is Addiction? 


When someone mentions addiction do you automatically think of alcohol and drugs?  Most of us do because those are the most common forms of addiction and what we commonly hear people talk about as a problems.  Addictions is are more common than we might think and the list of substances that can be considered addictive are many.  However, addiction is not exclusive to substances.  It also includes a variety of behaviors such as gambling, shopping, internet use, and even activities that are good for us such as eating and exercise can become an addiction.  You may ask “How is that possible”? 


Common Aspects of Addiction 


 What do all of these have in common?  The answer is that whether it is a substance or a behavior the person doing them finds them pleasurable in some way.  Then you may ask “What makes it an addiction”?  There are two aspects that all addictions have in common.

  • The addictive behavior or substance is counter-productive to the individual.  So instead of helping the person adapt to situations or overcome problems, it tends to undermine their abilities.  Here are a few examples:  A gambler might wish for more money, yet gambling is more likely to drain financial resources.  A drinker might want to cheer up, and alcohol use might contribute to the development of depression.  A workaholic may crave recognition and self fulfillment– yet the focus on working all the time may prevent development of good relationships with others.
  • The behavior is persistent.  When someone is addicted, they will continue to engage in the addictive behavior, despite the fact that it causes problems.  When a behavior such as gambling, shopping, eating, drinking, or drug use causes someone’s life to become unmanageable then it is a problem.  In reality, addictions tend to limit people’s individuality and freedoms as they become more restricted in their behaviors.


You might ask “What’s the problem if it isn’t doing any harm”?  Addictions are harmful to the person with the addiction, and to the people around them.  The biggest problem is that the addicted person fails to see the harm that their addiction is causing.  They may be in denial about the negative aspects of their addiction.  They may choose to ignore the effects on their health, life patterns, and relationships.  Or they become the victim and blame outside circumstances or other people in their lives for their difficulties. 


Addiction can effect many aspects of someone’s life.  


These include the following areas: mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.  When all these aspects are worked on in treatment this is called “holistic treatment”.  At the St. Louis Wellness Center, we work with a person to help them put the pieces of their puzzle back together and create a whole person once again.  An analogy that can be used is that of a puzzle.  A puzzle has many interconnecting pieces that make a whole picture.  The same is true with a holistic approach of treatment.  Each aspect (mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual) are pieces of the puzzle and interdependent upon each other.


Alcohol and Drug Addiction



Know the Warning Signs of Excessive Use:


Clearly determining the truth about one’s drug and alcohol use is an important first step in knowing if help is necessary. Some early signs of trouble could include:


  • Avoiding situations in which alcohol or drugs are not available
  • Temporary amnesia (blackouts)
  • Sneaking drugs or alcohol or hiding it from others
  • Declining productivity at work, losing friendships, or ending relationships
  • Physical deterioration
  • Efforts to control using fail repeatedly




Most people don’t realize when their drinking or drug using has gotten out of hand. Once this has happened a compassionate and empathic approach to helping the person undergo necessary changes is most effective. Generally, a person might start to make changes in individual counseling with a qualified and knowledgeable substance abuse counselor. If this approach isn’t rigorous enough, the person might need to go to an out-patient treatment program that often involves group counseling and meets several times a week. Should this level of care still prove ineffective, it is often recommended that the person be admitted into an inpatient facility where s/he can receive constant assistance, individual and group counseling, and perhaps meet with a psychiatrist. 




Recovery is a process of self-discovery that can last for quite a long time, going in cycles and deepening as people learn more about themselves, their relationships, and the world in which they live.  While each person will experience her or his recovery in a unique way, there are some common signs of hope and improvement:


  • New interests develop
  • Return (or development) of self-esteem
  • Right thinking begins
  • Natural rest and sleep occurs
  • Steps toward economic stability begin
  • Contentment in sobriety it achieved


If you would like to better understand your own, or a loved one’s drinking or drugging behaviors, qualified professionals at the St. Louis Wellness Center can help guide you in determining the best course of action. If individual therapy is appropriate, the help you need can be found at the St. Louis Wellness Center. 


Holistic Drug Treatment

Holistic drug treatment can mean one of two things. The term holistic drug treatment is sometimes used to describe alternative therapies and the use of all natural methods within a drug treatment program; but holistic drug treatment is more commonly used to describe an integrated method of drug rehab that incorporates specific programming to heal the body, the mind and the soul.

  1. Body:  to enact behavioral change and induce better health, the healing and strengthening of the body becomes necessary. 
  2. Mind:  without programming of the mind, there is little hope for a cessation of addictive behaviors. 
  3. Spirit:  to heal the spirit, holistic drug treatment programs encourage reflection, contemplation, spirituality and hope. 
  4. Comprehensive Healing:  the programming as offered will vary between holistic drug rehab programs, but all will endeavor to treat addiction through the treatment of the person as a whole. 


The information as follows describes the latter and more common type of holistic drug treatment programming.

Holistic drug treatment acknowledges that the causes of an addiction are holistic in nature, and that only through a healing of the whole body and spirit can real recovery ensue. To qualify as holistic treatment, the drug rehab center should have specific programming designed to integrate the treatment of all parts of body, spirit and mind.

Holistic drug treatment does not abandon that which has proven effective in more conventional drug rehab, and a commonality of programming exists between the two. Group therapy, cognitive behavioral classes and private counseling with an addictions therapist will feature prominently at most rehabs, whether holistic or otherwise.

1. Body 

To enact behavioral change and induce better health, the healing and strengthening of the body becomes necessary. Without strength and health, the temptations back to abuse are increased, and the healing and strengthening of the body causes a corresponding strengthening of the mind and spirit. To enhance the healing of the body, holistic drug rehab facilities will offer a variety of health promoting and strengthening programs.


Exercise may be golf, tennis, rock climbing or strength and aerobic training in a health club, the form of exercise is largely immaterial, and as long as the exercise causes a strengthening of the body, increases natural detoxification through sweating, and influences an improved emotional state, it is very beneficial.


Saunas and whirlpools can also be employed to accelerate natural detox.


Massage and acupuncture are both used to promote a relaxation of the muscles and to restore certain bodily balances. Acupuncture can help to reduce the severity of cravings

Nutritional therapy

Most drug addicts enter holistic drug treatment suffering the ravages of abuse, and through appropriate vitamin and mineral rich foods and the supplementation of needed vitamins and minerals, physical healing is accelerated. Drug and alcohol abuse commonly causes nutritional deficiencies, and the positive effects of a restoration of appropriate nutrient levels in the body can be significant; additionally, certain nutritional deficiencies can cause increased cravings for further drug abuse.

2. Mind 

Without programming of the mind, there is little hope for a cessation of addictive behaviors. 

Within a holistic drug rehab the use of beneficial yet conventional programs continues, and cognitive therapy, peer group therapy, AA or NA related meetings and individual counseling with a psychologist or addictions professional are all employed. Additionally:


Pharmacological intervention should only be used when needed, but since dual diagnosis' of addiction and mental health are so prevalent, and as well the process of detoxification and recovery can induce acute sensations of anxiety or depression, the use of certain medications can improve the ability to participate fully in the process of recovery. Pharmacological interventions may also be used to alleviate some of the pains of withdrawal.


Learning empowers the recovering addict, and holistic drug rehab offers addicts classes on the nature of addiction, the damage done to the body through addiction, and recovery strategies.

3. Spirit 

To heal the spirit, holistic drug treatment programs encourage reflection, contemplation, spirituality and hope.

An awareness of the metaphysical distinction between mind and spirit is a hallmark of holistic drug treatment, and without bettering spiritual pain, there is little hope for eventual abstinence.


By using spiritual guidance from a higher power as a way to battle temptation, prayer to a personally defined higher power strengthens addicts away from use or abuse and towards a better way of living. Spiritual guidance has always been incorporated into 12 steps programs, and many holistic treatment programs will incorporate these peer group meetings within a comprehensive programming.

Meditation and reflection

Therapeutic meditation is taught and encouraged as a way to gain self awareness, and as a way to gain a better understanding of the things in life that lead to abuse and unhappiness.

Yoga or martial arts

Although physical in nature, the benefits of discipline and concentration requiring yoga or martial arts occur on the spiritual plane.

4. Comprehensive Healing 

The programming as offered will vary between holistic drug rehab programs, but all will endeavor to treat addiction through the treatment of the person as a whole. We are all comprised distinctly of the physical, the mental and the spiritual, and as such to influence healing, the body, mind and spirit all need individually targeted programming.

Neglecting the interconnected and integrated healing of the person as a whole can lead to an imbalance, and too often this imbalance leads us back to abuse and addiction. Through comprehensive healing of the body, mind and spirit, we become healed and whole. Through programming of the body and the sprit, we are strengthened enough to incorporate the lessons of the mind, and to truly integrate the needed life changes that must occur for addiction recovery.

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