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Addiction to Drugs/Substance Abuse Counseling


How would you differentiate to a client "who we are" as opposed to "what we do" as people in general? In other words, how do we explain to a client that what we do is not who we are? And why?

Absolutely beautiful question, Kathleen

There are a number of ways to operationalize this when working with clients.  I usually refer to the phrase "You are not your behavior".

When a substance abuser laments about their past, and the "evil" things they've done, I focus on what are the common behaviors of alcoholics and addicts, that is, the "toolbox" of behaviors specifically linked to addictive behavior.  Which is essentially the point:  Addiction brings with it behavioral and likely cognitive changes that transform the way people think about themselves and others.

When clients have some degree of sobriety in their past, I ask them if they engaged in the same behaviors they did when using.  Typically, they do not, because they can see the difference, and are not hazed up by the effects of the substances on their thinking and judgment.  

All of this is to emphasize the nature of choice.  When you do different things in recovery from when you were using, you recognize the benefits of doing these things.  These are decisions one actively makes.  One becomes a better person, trust is restored, credibility grows in terms of how one is seen.  In other words, the movement away from substances has liberated someone to be who they actually are, rather than a distorted version.

Hope this helps,

Addiction to Drugs

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Peter L.


I am available to answer any questions about substance use, abuse, and dependence. I can also offer perspective on treatment options and how to motivate someone to get help. I have over 27 years of experience as a substance abuse treatment professional, working with adolescents and adults in a variety of treatment settings. I feel I can answer just about any question in this topic area but can also access reference sources, or direct you to these for additional information gathering or education on your own.


I am a professional addictions counselor working in a very highly respected treatment center, as well as having a private practice in two states.

Masters Degree in Behavioral Science Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor in three states. Also an Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor

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