When someone is struggling with addiction and mental health concerns, often we hear well-meaning people make statements such as, “You just need to stop using and love yourself instead,” or, “What you need to do is to forgive and let go of your harsh judgments.”

And the person who is having a hard time thinks, Well, that would be nice, but how do I DO that? What are the practical steps? No one ever taught me this stuff!

It’s Not Too Late to Learn

But what if you could get practical lessons from professionals who help people to heal from their addictions every day? What if it’s not too late to learn?

I’m Joe Koelzer, co-founder and CEO of The Clearing, a non 12 Step Dual Diagnosis inpatient addiction treatment center in Washington state.

My team and I like to call ourselves the “how you do it” guys. We’re on the ground, in the field, helping our Participants work through their issues every single day.

This blog is our way of sharing what most people never learned in school: how to work with underlying mental and emotional issues and fully heal from addiction.

Welcome to Addiction and Mental Health Demystified

Back when we first founded our residential rehab in 2013, we thought that our Program was mainly for people with substance abuse issues.

However, we soon learned that it also does wonders for individuals with significant mental and emotional health issues and no history of substance abuse.

Given that most addictions have their roots in untreated mental and emotional health issues, this wasn’t a big surprise.

After all, when people have underlying core issues that aren’t addressed, their mental and emotional stability deteriorates. This leaves them vulnerable to substance abuse.

The Root Causes of Addiction

What are Underlying Core Issues?

Addiction comes in so many different sizes and shapes, but the major underlying core issues that I encounter with Participants include …

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Self-loathing
  • Self-harming behavior
  • Feelings of hopelessness and despair
  • Issues around trauma, defined subjectively as any experience that was shocking to you personally. Common examples include loss of a loved one, loss of safety, power, prestige, wealth, or social status.

There’s no judgment here. These are just the concerns that come up when what we talk about mental health. It’s simply the stuff that needs our care and attention.

The good news is that healing our core issues is not hard to do, and it’s not necessarily scary either.

That said, there is a need for us to do this work in a really loving and safe environment. That way, the most vulnerable parts of ourselves can come forward and get the attention that they need in order to heal.

How Do We Heal?

Here are the basic steps for me if I’m struggling with addiction:

  • First, I need to get off of the addictive substances, ideally with a supervised medical detox.
  • Then immediately after that, I need to get into a dual diagnosis treatment program (meaning, a program that treats mental health conditions and substance abuse concurrently).
  • There, I need to use the psychological tools that are available to heal the underlying issues that had me using to begin with. I’m going to learn to question my judgments and limiting beliefs; I’m going to learn to apply love to the places inside of me that hurt.
  • Finally, I need to go back into the world newly equipped to manage my own thoughts and emotions. I’m going to continue to apply love to the places inside of me that hurt, because that’s how I heal.

Stay tuned to our blog to hear more about how these processes work and how you can apply them in your own life!