Addictions Counsellor and Addiction Therapy In North Leeds

Addictions are very often misunderstood and are not to be confused with the physical dependency of a substance. It is important to understand that physical dependency can, and will happen to anybody taking the right dose of a substance that has the correct chemical make up, which causes the bodily organs to become dependent, if repeatedly taken over a period of time, causing physical withdrawal symptoms when discontinued.


Physical dependence of a substance can be treated relatively easily by gradually reducing the substance over a period of time and using short term substitution drugs to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

Addiction is a complex learned behavioural problem


Addiction, however, is much more complex and is best described as the user placing irrational importance to their drug of choice and a compulsion to carry on drinking or using despite negative consequences. Addiction can be thought of as a condition linked to the reward system of the brain and connected elaborately to an individuals environment, memories, thought processes, belief systems, genetic makeup and emotions.

Because of the nature of addiction and the connection between ones learned behaviours, emotions, coping mechanisms and environment, the cycle of addiction is reinforced more and more as the individual becomes more entrenched in irrational addictive thoughts and behaviour.


The addictive behaviour acts as a "short term release" for the individual who is seeking comfort and relief from an uncomfortable and anxious state of being, resulting in the person repeating the actions over and over again in order to gain the perceived pleasurable states.


As the individual becomes more and more addicted and as their neural networks become more "wired" together (often over many years), it becomes increasingly more difficult to identify, accept and change their behaviours, but with the correct knowledge and support, escaping the vicious cycle of addiction is achievable as many, many people around the world have proved! Honesty with yourself is the beginning of your recovery journey and you need to be able to accept and implement this in order to move forward and make changes.

Addiction doesn't just impact on the individual who is suffering from the problem, it affects those who are closest to them, with friends and family members often feeling confused and overwhelmed with issues, dynamics and feelings around addictive behaviours, such as lies, deceit, shame, guilt and denial. All these issues can be dealt with in time and can be looked at together in a recovery plan, as family and friends help the individual recover through mindful support.

Families and friends can help support the individual who is having problems with addiction, by learning as much as they can about addictions, trying to be open-minded and not reinforcing any negative or unhelpful labelling or stigmatising of the person suffering. A calm, collective and non-judgemental mindset will help to keep the individual focused, and kind words of encouragement and positivity can really help their loved one get through this difficult period in their lives.

Drug and alcohol addiction is a complex behavioural disorder which is brought about by multiple factors in an individuals life. Below are some simplified reasons as to why people become addicted to substances and how we begin to understand and recover from alcoholism or drug misuse.










Why Do We Get Addicted To Substances?


  • Combination of life experiences (from birth) and genetic makeup of chemicals in parts of the brain.

  • Inability to express emotion/feelings lead to learned behaviour to “disconnect the self”.

  • Behaviours seek short term relief from emotional discord with links to, and from, the reward system.

  • The brain looks for a pathway to give the fastest relief to the individual.

  • Pathway connections are re-enforced every time and over time.

  • Irrational Behaviours also re-enforced due to guilt/shame (and other emotions) and consequences overlooked.

  • Frustration from not being in control and unable to cease destructive behaviours keep individual in the cycle.

  • Pride and reward systems continue to keep individuals in the cycle.

  • Individuals amygdala may be in a state of “heightened flux” leading to feelings of anger, danger, fear, paranoia and self-consciousness being exaggerated and a longer period of “cooling off” than in normal/other individuals.

How Do We Recover From Our Addictions?


  • Understand and reflect on our life experiences and genetic makeup (which includes education / learning about parts of the brain).

  • Learn to express emotion/feelings which lead to learned behaviour to “disconnect the self” by talking, exploring and learning in a safe environment.

  • Awareness and identification of our behaviours and emotions (especially around trigger and craving periods) give us the foundations to bring about change.

  • Processing that the body and brain are reacting to urges and the pathway that is established via the synapses in the brain “in the moment”.

  • Recognising the times that irrational thoughts are likely to occur and plan our responses to bring about more choices and change.

  • Process thoughts and learn more about belief systems, family beliefs and reasons behind guilt/ shame and other “emotional discord”

  • Control destructive behaviours by starting to understand the causes and work on “the self”.

  • Replace old unwanted beliefs, work on reward and pride systems through education and talking therapies.

  • Slow down everything.. including breath, thought processes, life. Practice mindfulness, meditation and exercise to learn to “tame” the amygdala responses and start to understand “the self” more by education and utilising talking therapies.

These are just a few of the elements, ideas, reasons and discussions that I try to bring to my drug and alcohol recovery sessions that I deliver in North Leeds, Yorkshire, UK.

Addiction treatment and recovery from addictions is often misunderstood in western society, and although this is changing there is still a lot of stigma around drug addiction, drug treatment and alcohol addiction treatment. Peoples perception of someone who is “addicted” to a substance is often like that of film scenes like “Trainspotting” with Heroin “addicts” living in squalor, holding their arms rattling. Think of an “alcoholic” and you may conjure up images of someone with a bottle of alcohol in their hand, totally intoxicated laid out on a park bench. In reality, people who are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol are a complete cross section of society. All sorts of people get addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling or other behaviours and there are always reasons why. It is my job to help people to start to unravel some of their own personal stories of addictions so that they can learn to move forward with their lives.

At Start Recovery I offer Drug treatment programmes that work with all types of people struggling with drug abuse or substance abuse problems to become drug free through counselling and talking therapies. My addiction help involves the client working through their problems whilst being in their natural environment. I help people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol to identify and acknowledge their triggers, urges and cravings and how to deal with life stresses in the real world, rather than being in places such as rehabs or residential treatment centres. (It is important to note that sometimes an addiction intervention where an individual who is addicted to drugs or alcohol may be needed). This may include rehab facilities where addicts can safely withdraw from their drug of choice (but this is only really needed in the more extreme situations of dependency to a substance, and usually opiates, alcohol or certain prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines).


People sometimes choose a residential addiction center or rehab facilities looking for a “quick fix” for their problem, but often suffer relapse when returning to their normal lives. Addiction aftercare, or ongoing drug treatment  is arguably one of the most important factors of sustained recovery, where the cyclic nature of the alcohol or drug addiction can be focused on in a deeper and more therapeutic way. For people who do decide to go to a residential rehab facility, research shows that people with addictive disorders who continue with after care treatment following being discharged from a residential treatment appear have significantly improved outcomes.


My addiction counseling and recovery service works by building a deep sense of trust with the client who is looking for addiction treatment. I bring my experience of working in detox units, addiction services and drug rehab programs, and combine REBT (Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy) , CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), mindfulness, breathing techniques and the latest Neuropsychotherapy. I usually aim for a period of abstinence from the problematic substance use, and sometimes this can take some time, especially with those who have developed an alcohol or chemical dependency. Once abstinence is achieved (with clinical withdrawal support if necessary) then we can start to work on some of the deeper rooted behavioural aspects of addictions. We will start to build a plan around the addicted individual that best draws on the recovery support available to them in their current circumstances. This may include friends or family support, or peer support groups such as SMART Recovery, Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. We will examine behaviours and behavioural patterns and try to "re-connect" to our emotions by making sense of some of the deeper reasons behind our addictive behaviours. We will examine potential past trauma, with an emphasis on shame, guilt, anger and frustration. We will look at our core beliefs, schema's, irrational beliefs, irrational behaviours and how they can affect our past, present and future.

Start Recovery

10 Holt Avenue


LS16 8DH


      0113 3280211

      07899 391456

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