Tik, heroin, marijuana, cocaine and party drugs, ecstasy, LSD, alcohol – drug addiction or substance abuse is a major problem in Cape Town, South Africa. Sure drug rehab centres are part of the solution, but how much help does addictions counselling offer recovering addicts? And where can good drug counselling be found in Cape Town? Hope House, Kuils River is a great place to start. Hope House does not offer detoxification, but our addictions counselling starts at the very first stages of recovery  – we work right from the first few weeks to help a recovering substance abuser make better choices around their addiction with the end aim of becoming a productive part of a family, work  place or society.

A counselling group an essential part of recovery

An essential part of preventing relapse, is being a part of a group and this helps a recovering addict stay on track and rebuild their life. Although drugs can make a major dent in a person’s life, they don’t have to be labelled an “addict” all their life, and we know that recovery from addiction is possible with the right care. We believe that addictions counselling is an essential part of the recovery journey.

Hope House Kuils River offers a rehabilitation programme covering Motivational Interviewing, Early Recovery Skills and Relapse prevention which includes Life Skills.

Counsellors at the Hope House Kuilsriver Substance Abuse Counselling Centre told us 5 reasons counselling is an essential part of recovering from drug addiction.

Addictions Counselling helps a recovering substance abuser…

#1…go straight to the source
Every story of substance abuse has a lead character – and its not the substance. The story is actually about a person (a boy, girl, man or woman) who in their struggles, turned to a substance for escape or comfort. Once the physical dependance on the substance has been tackled, counselling helps the person with the addiction to face the pain that is the source of the addiction.

#2…cope with life’s triggers
Stress, disappointments and life’s hurts don’t stop when a recovering substance abuser heads home after detox or a few short weeks of rehab. Addictions experts generally agree that the traditional 28 days of rehab are not nearly enough to reset addictive behaviour and get a person who has been abusing drugs ready to resist when the stresses of life strike. Counselling offers support and self-awareness as a recovering addict steps out into going back to school, getting a job, losing a job, facing the end (or beginning of a love relationship) or family arguments. These strains often see a person struggling with addiction turning to drugs or alcohol yet again, so counselling gives coping mechanisms and tools as to how to cope in these times.

#3…explore any deeper psychological issues
Addiction very often coincides with deeper psychological issues – something called dual-diagnosis. While it may feel scary to discover an underlying mental illness, like depression or bipolar, a counsellor or psychologist can help spot these disorders and refer a patient for treatment – which lightens the load of suffering. Diagnosis can offer a giant step forward as most people respond really well to medication and counselling and the pain and suffering of these disorders can be lifted. A recent study found that 46% of those diagnosed with Bipolar disorder had abused alcohol or drugs at one time. Bipolar is a mood disorder where the sufferer experiences periods of depression and then periods of mania (elevated mood, lack of sleep, high energy and risk-taking behaviour like spending, drug abuse or sexual behaviour). Depression and alcohol or drug abuse are also linked as a person tries to self-medicate with substances which lift the mood at first, but then worsen the depression afterwards.

#4…deal with damaged relationships
Strained relationships are one of the many results of addiction. Stressed and worried mothers and fathers may struggle to trust their son or daughter again. Brothers and sisters who live in the stress of a family with a person need time to rebuild a close relationship again and friends may take time to trust and become close again. Forgiveness is a key ingredient in rebuilding relationships, both forgiveness of  others and the self – when harm has been done. Poor decision making while abusing drugs may also lead to broken relationships as a person who abuses substances. Counselling is a key part of rebuilding relationships as its a space where the recovering addict gets to process decisions and develop the courage needed to repair relationships. The Hope House counsellor is called to accept and value the client, which also goes far to rebuild the client’s ability to relate, trust and feel worthy in other relationships.

#5…come to terms with on-going treatment (and temptation)
The recovering substance abuser needs to work to accept that addiction is a life-long struggle. We find that a rehabilitation programme is often not the end of the battle. After the stage of detox and recovery, the next few months sees the recovering addict enter the second stage of addiction recovery: Post Acute Withdrawal (PAW).  This stage can last up to 2 years and can include anxiety, guilt and often, cravings. As the individual readjusts to life without substances, they may struggle to see the benefit in their new choice. Counselling during this stage is very important as a recovering person gets to bounce their feelings against a caring yet neutral person. Recovery is most often a life-long battle, where support is needed to work through life’s tough times, temptation and slip-ups.

Hope House offers hour-long sessions with caring and trained counsellors – all offered in return for a voluntary donation to Hope House. Hope House Kuilsrivier is a dedicated centre for Substance Abuse counselling, where outpatient counselling programmes are offered (mostly 16 weeks long). We also value the important role that families play and so offer support groups for families. Trust Hope House to offer you or your loved one addictions counselling that changes lives and helps recovering substance abusers stay sober and live rewarding lives.