Overcoming Addiction and Social Bias


A common perception in our society is that substance abusers have a weak personality or lack moral judgement.  However, according to research accumulated in the past decades, the combination of biology and social environment accounts for a major part of addiction.  According to Nora Volkov, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance addiction is “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.” Substance abuse treatment currently focuses on both biological and psychological aspects of addiction in a way that may be impossible to do individually.

The initial period of using harmful substances often make one feel euphoric and empowered. However, one soon finds out that he/she needs to constantly increase the dosage and frequency of drugs use to obtain the same pleasurable effect. Eventually the urge for the drug becomes so great that it takes over one’s life. This is not the result of a weak personality or a lack of moral judgement – research shows that drug use reduces activity in brain areas related to judgment, decision making, learning and memory, and behavior control. Thus the addict has biologically less control over his / her actions. Another source of influence is the immediate environment, which is often unwilling or unable to give an addict the framework he/she need to quit. In order to stop substance abuse and maintain abstinence, it is crucial to have a supporting environment.

At Advanced Human Services, we address addiction on a biological, psychological and social levels. Our treatment is focused on each individual’s difficulties and includes detoxification and group and individual therapy sessions. We provide a supporting environment and address each individual’s needs.


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Professional Treatment at Promises

Admitting that you, or somebody you know, has a substance abuse related problem is not always easy. How do you know when your involvement with psychoactive substances has gotten out of hand? The answer varies, but in general, if your substance use interferes with family, social life, work, health or emotional stability – chemical dependence is a problem.

Doug Sellman, at the National Addiction Center, offers to the public his own explanation of addiction: firstly, the most important thing to know about addiction is that it’s “fundamentally about compulsive behavior”. Secondly, addiction originates outside of consciousness, therefore we can’t apply common sense and rational mind for its control. And thirdly, as he reports, a predisposition to addiction is 50 percent heritable, in other words, genetics as well as family background play an essential role.

Doug Sellman believes that individuals with addiction have very specific problems; many of them are diagnosed with a mental disorder and in order to achieve success in treatment clinicians have to combine various rejuvenating approaches – including prescription drugs, family therapy, social and legal support and more.

It is important to remember that changes do not happen overnight. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of patience and persistence in practicing new behavior over long periods of time. A good collaboration between professionals involved in combating addiction and their patients, is probably the last important factor that should be taken into consideration.

In our clinic we take an individualized, custom tailored approach to diagnosing and treating addictive disorders. Our team of clinicians consists of psychiatrists, family therapists, counselors, and social workers, who work together to help our clients achieve stable sobriety and improve their quality of life.

Family Therapy

Family Therapy provides the opportunity for family members to connect in a safe environment and pursue the resolution of pressing and underlying concerns. Led by the professional staff of Advanced Human Services, Inc, our clients are able to schedule family therapy sessions that include either all family members or just those whose presence is most necessary and relevant.

This type of psychological counseling is often short term and the specific treatment plan varies by situation. Frequent goals of family therapy sessions are conflict resolution and creating more solid and trustworthy lines of communication. Family therapy has the potential to teach all participating members healthier means of expression, ways to deepen family connections and aid in coping during stressful times.

Rifts within the family structure and closed channels of communication deter success of treatment plans for those suffering from addiction. Exploring the family role in shaping the success of their loved one, creates an atmosphere of support and takes away the burden of failure. All families are different, which is why our staff at Advanced Human Services, Inc are constantly educating themselves and seeking to provide resources and solutions to problems across a range of many diverse issues.

Family Therapy with Advanced Human Services, Inc is a journey of discovery of individual roles and responsibilities; and how those will lead to creating positive change. This is done by decreasing stress levels, identifying underlying issues that lead to pain, guilt, regret and even resentment and learning how to, individually, take responsibility. It is a very active type of therapy; meaning that it is common for members to leave a session with ‘homework’ or ‘assignments’.

Family Therapy is not foolproof and does carry risks. Some of these do include the worsening of problems, either as a result of abrupt ending of the sessions or its conduction without the guidance of a properly trained professional. The effectiveness of family therapy suffers also when key family member(s) is unwilling to share and participate.

However, when commitment to this form of therapy exists and the family members are willing to cooperate, alleviation of pain can happen.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) pulls from the practices of motivational interviewing (MI). During a session, the client and their designated professional member of the Advanced Human Services, Inc staff, work together to analyze and learn from the normative or standardized feedback as gained from previous sessions and interactions. The entirety of the session is conducted in a safe and non-confrontational environment. Within it, the client is urged to explore, reflect and analyze the implications of their behavior and mindset as is patterned by their interaction with harmful substances.

MET is used to strengthen the relationship between client and counselor through honest communication and to consolidate the client’s commitment to acknowledging their attitude towards drugs and/or alcohol. The application of MET, within the field of substance abuse treatment, has been extensively tested, with positive outcomes.

Through self-motivation, the client themselves feels empowered to make a change. This phenomenon is known as “intrinsic motivation” and works to implement “rolling with resistance”; which is a technique utilized by the Advanced Human Services, Inc staff to open the lines of communication with the client by responding in a neutral way to any possible resistance from the client’s side, rather than contradicting or correcting them. Feeling heard and reassured of their importance in the therapeutic process is something all our professional staff aims to deliver to the client. Creating a safe and peaceful environment for expression is our goal at Advanced Human Services, Inc. The synergy between client and professional staff is crucial to a healthy recovery. Which is why following the guidelines of Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) is at the crux of client interaction and plans for their well-being.

Contingency Management Therapy

Contingency Management Therapy as per the conception of Nancy Petry, Ph.D is the treatment model used by our professional staff at Advanced Human Services, Inc.

The main goal of Contingency Management Therapy is to encourage positive behaviour changes in persons with alcohol and other drug (AOD) use disorders. The means promoted by Petry and her colleagues stem from the idea of systematic reinforcement. That is, acknowledging in a real world way the steps taken to embrace desired behaviours, such as abstinence, and applying negative consequences and even punitive measures for behaviours detrimental to progress and contributing to self harm.

An important aspect of CMT application is the contract, into which the client entered willingly. Within it the positive and negative reinforcement consequences are laid out, along with the goals of the client for themselves, highlighted behaviours for change and necessary steps for further progress.

For a more detailed explanation as to the conceptual and basic science foundations of CMT, please consult http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh23-2/122-127.pdf. This link will lead you to an in depth article composed by Petry et al., titled Contingency Management.