Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Looking at the Whole Person

When a person is involved in addiction it is not just their substance use that likely needs to be treated. Stopping the substance is usually just the first stage of the treatment plan. There is more to do after the "stopping". Not everyone realizes this. The other things to look at are what are the factors that led to the addiction in the first place. Historically there have been several different theories that have tried to explain the cause of addiction: the disease model, the moral model, the learned behaviour model, etc. These days the BioPsychoSocial-Spiritual Model (BPSS) is often used in treatment as it looks at all aspects of a person and incorporates some of the helpful aspects of previous models.

Sometimes it is the person's "biology" that is a significant contributing factor. For example, perhaps addiction runs in the family and thus they have inherited a genetic predisposition towards developing an addiction.  Other biological factors might be chronic pain or acquired brain injury.  Psychological factors might also be contributors. Perhaps there is an underlying mental illness or unresolved trauma. Perhaps there is low self-esteem. Social factors that might contribute are living in a culture which, like ours, has a liquor store every few blocks and where alcohol is a significant part of many occasions and celebrations. Also, some people come from families where substance use was a normal, daily happening. Even some workplaces and sports teams can exert an adult version of "peer pressure" where joining in the camaraderie of the beer at the end of the day, or after the game, is expected.     

Finally, we have the factor of spirituality. Spirituality in this sense does not necessarily mean religion although it may be religion for some. Overall, the factor of spirituality looks at meaning; purpose; or  a sense of connection with God, other people, nature or "something greater than oneself". Spirituality is very important to many in recovery to help alleviate the sense of emptiness that is often felt and to bring a sense of hope and peace.

The BPSS Model can be very helpful in guiding a person towards the areas they need to work on in their recovery. The paths people take to recovery may look very different depending on what factors are found to be contributing to each person's addiction. This is also referred to in the counselling field as a client-centered approach to treatment. The treatment plan will depend on what that particular client needs. What the client needs will be determined by the client, hopefully in collaboration with someone who has good knowledge of recovery such as a counsellor or other trusted mentor such as an AA sponsor.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Thanks RJ! You are correct that many of these concepts can be applied to cigarette smoking as well as other addictions. I don't know if a "like" button is possible here but it is a good idea. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. I have read the article,and I want to say thanks to you for exceptional information. You have provided deep and easily understandable knowledge to us.
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  3. Thank you Rose...I am very glad this was helpful for you!