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Depth Psychology and Addiction

Rockland Depth Psychology and Addiction

At Rockland Recovery, we believe that recovery is not about abstinence, but connection. Therefore, recovery almost always involves the healing of family and community. To someone new to treatment this may seem like a daunting proposition; however, we believe this truth will become self-evident even after a very short time in our program. What may not be quite as obvious is that recovery also demands that the addict come to a new and more honest relationship with him/herself. We believe that depth psychology, coupled with the 12 Steps at a drug addiction treatment program, affords the addict very effective tools to help reconnect with oneself.

Depth Psychology For Addiction Recovery

Depth psychology was developed in the early 20th century. It focuses on the contents and processes of the unconscious. This work was largely pioneered by Sigmund Freud and C.G. Jung. Depth psychology understands the human being to be divided. We experience ideas, emotions, and feelings on a conscious level, but are, at the same time, driven by forces beyond our conscious control. As the poet W.H Auden wrote, “We are lived by powers we pretend to understand”.

Understanding Why Addiction Occurs

This means that depth psychology is more concerned with narrative than symptoms. That is, we want to hear our clients’ stories at our sober living home. Instead of fixating on symptoms, we should be asking, “What happened to you?” We want to try to understand not only the societal and cultural context of their lives but also the personal narrative that has been part of the client’s psyche from an early age. Only by attending to these stories can we uncover and understand the way ideas and narrative themes have shaped his/her self-understanding. Often these themes are powerfully debilitating. How often have we heard our clients say things like “I need to please others to feel safe” or “Nobody is ever happy with me.” Oftentimes these stories create what Jung called complexes.

Complexes can be thought of as patterns of stored energy within the unconscious. They are largely comprised of charged emotions and memories. Most readers are acquainted with the idea of the inferiority complex. People suffering from an inferiority complex are insecure about their worth and often feel less than others. If they never consciously confront these feelings, they may compensate by demeaning or controlling others. If they succeed in dominating others they do not feel as inadequate about themselves. However, we need to remember is this all happens unconsciously. One is not aware that she is suffering from an inferiority complex. Healing, then, involves a confrontation with the unconscious. This can happen in the context of narrative therapy; it can also occur through the writing of a 4th Step at an addiction treatment center program.

How Depth Psychology in Recovery Works

As the addict builds a relationship with his unconscious, he begins to understand why some relationships, dreams, and/or symbols are so much more potent than others. Over time he comes to realize that his symptoms (e.g. depression or anxiety) are fewer problems to be overcome than messages to be attended to. He learns that anxiety is overcome not by suppression but via self-understanding. What is it trying to tell me? When we really face our symptoms and unpack their meaning at a substance abuse treatment program, we are transformed.

Addiction Recovery At Rockland Recovery

Like the 12 Steps, depth psychology makes serious demands of client and provider alike. Recovery takes time and hard work. Addicted persons (not unlike most Americans) and insurance companies want a quick fix. Unfortunately, recovery does not work that way. At Rockland Recovery, our addiction treatment staff is committed to helping our clients over the long haul. This means that we must build a vibrant alumni community by plugging our clients into our already established networks. It also means that we must also go the extra yard to help our clients’ spouses, parents, children, and friends. We do not believe our clients will “buy-in” to recovery until they have experienced a significant degree of relief. The bad news is they will have to work very hard to get that relief. The good news is that they will have earned it.

Contact Rockland Recovery at 855.732.4842 for more information about our recovery programs.

Medical Reviewer Kate Perfetti, LADC II

Medically Reviewed by Kate Perfetti, LADC II

Kate is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor who has worked in the field of substance abuse for the last nine years. At Rockland Recovery, Kate works to provide resources to the local community and engage and progress Rockland Recovery’s alumni program.


Take the First Step Toward Recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, we encourage you to request a confidential call to explore treatment options, ask questions, and receive support from experienced professionals. We know taking this first step can be challenging, but it’s a courageous and important part of the recovery journey.

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