Anxious Artist

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Josh (not his real name), a drug addict, was facing a dilemma: go to residential treatment for drug abuse or stay at home and continue drug use. His girlfriend did not approve of his drug use because of their baby. But if he went to treatment he would lose his job and not be able to support his little family. He felt torn between his obligation to himself (treatment) and his obligation to his family (job). I informed this anxious young man that he had to get his head and heart on straight before he would be able to be there for his baby.

Josh was told by a psychologist that he had generalized anxiety disorder. But it was situational and normal because he was facing what he deemed a difficult situation: leaving his baby to attend a residential treatment program many miles from home or stay and struggle with his addiction.  Josh anguished over what he should do. He kept doing what I refer to as “what iffing”. What if my baby forgets me? What if my woman finds someone else? What if I fail at the program? Legitimate “what ifs” for someone in Josh’s shoes. By having these thoughts, Josh would work himself up into a world of emotional pain.

I met with Josh and listened to his story over the course of several weeks . It took some time for Josh to get ready to walk the road of recovery. He did a lot of soul searching and pondering on the best course of action. One day, after he learned how to have better feeling thoughts, he was ready.

I taught him to have a better feeling thought by using the analogy of food. Josh said he did not like asparagus and loved enchiladas. I told him to associate whatever thought that triggered a good feeling in him as an enchilada thought, and whatever thought triggered negative feelings as an asparagus thought. Speaking in psychological terms, I taught Josh cognitive restructuring – an aspect of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I drove the point home by encouraging Josh to be mindful of his thoughts and how they make him feel. I also introduced him to the FeelGoood App and encouraged him to use it often.

Once Josh was successful in being mindful of his thoughts, he was ready to address the core hurt that triggered his drug use. Josh identified his core hurt as feeling unlovable. He was so sure that this was true that he even provided me with examples. I took Josh through four rounds of Faster Energy Focused Transformation, or “tapping.” We focused on the feeling of being unlovable. After the 4th round, Josh said he didn’t feel unlovable anymore and was able to offer proof that he was lovable!

Once this was done, Josh was able to develop a detailed relapse prevention plan that he could use in an outpatient treatment setting. With this plan he was able to convince a judge that he would be successful abstaining from drugs while at home. The icing on the cake was a Dream plan that Josh developed for himself. His dream is to be an urban artist and explained what that meant to him. He came up with a well-developed plan and made a commitment to begin applying it immediately.



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