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  • Do You Struggle with Addictions? Understand the 4C’s of Recovery!

    I want to highlight a few thoughts about addictions and the brain. My comments are based on my response to an article I read in Psychology Today. The following quote comes from the article:

    “Overcoming addiction usually entails not just stopping the use of a substance but also discovering or rediscovering meaningful activities and goals, the pursuit of which provides the brain with rewards more naturally (and more gradually). And because they require effort, they contribute to the growth of many facets of personality and personhood.”

    This quote really resonates with me because it illustrates the importance of understanding addiction and what motivates someone to overcome it. For many people with an addiction, the challenge is not just stopping substance use but also finding activities and goals that bring happiness and satisfaction. It’s essential to recognize that change is possible and that processes are available to help support recovery.

    To the addict in recovery, however, this can often feel as if you have to become a totally different person and that life will never be the same again. It’s important to remember that while much needs to change, you still have control over your destiny and recovery. With the help of professionals and support groups, it can become easier to understand how addiction works and how to move forward without its influence.

    It is crucial to distinguish between guilt and shame for clients who may not know the difference. Guilt pertains to actions, such as “did,” while shame relates to identity, such as “am.” For people grappling with addiction, bearing the burden of shame can be harmful, while guilt provides room for forgiveness and finding solutions. As therapists, it is crucial to help clients move away from shame and toward understanding how their behavior has affected them and others so they can find healthier ways of living.

    What role does the brain play in addiction?

    Fort Walton Beach Addiction Counseling 32547The brain plays a significant role in addiction, as it is responsible for regulating behavior, thoughts, and emotions. When someone uses substances or engages in addictive behaviors, their brain undergoes changes that make it harder to break the habit. The brain’s reward centers become overstimulated with dopamine and other neurotransmitters, leading to feelings of pleasure and euphoria. Over time, the brain becomes accustomed to these feelings and craves more substance or behavior to achieve a similar high. It is important to be aware of how the brain works so that recovery efforts can succeed better.

    Explaining the 4 C’s helps the clients understand the neuropathway processes and how these pathways affect their actions.


    Cravings are powerful urges that lead people to make decisions they wouldn’t normally make. When someone struggles with addiction, cravings can be intense and seemingly impossible to resist. The brain often starts to crave a substance or behavior when associated with a reward. Cravings are regulated by the dopamine system, which sends signals from one brain area to another.


    Control over one’s behavior is an essential component of recovery from addiction. However, this can be difficult to achieve as the craving for a substance or behavior can be overwhelming. It is important to remember that no matter how strong the cravings may seem, there are still choices to be made. Developing healthy coping skills, such as mindfulness and distraction techniques,


    Compulsions refer to the repeated and uncontrollable urges to engage in a particular behavior, such as using drugs or drinking alcohol. Strong emotions and negative thought patterns drive compulsions. In addiction recovery, it is important to understand that cravings and compulsions can be managed through learning strategies that promote emotional regulation, positive thinking, relaxation techniques, and healthy coping skills. These strategies can help reduce the craving’s intensity and give the individual more control over their behavior.


    Consequences refer to the negative effects that substance use or addictive behaviors can have on one’s life. These consequences can range from social alienation to legal issues, financial turmoil, and health complications. It is essential to be aware of these potential risks when considering engaging in addictive behavior. Exploring the positive rewards associated with abstinence, such as improved relationships and financial stability, may also be beneficial.

    Finally, when I look at the role of the counselor and counseling as it relates to addictions, I often come back to the core of it being an empathetic relationship.

    Empathy is a fundamental tool for counselors working with clients struggling with addiction. Creating a safe and supportive environment is vital in which clients feel comfortable enough to express themselves and open up about their struggles. By actively listening and showing understanding, counselors can help clients understand how their behavior has impacted others and work with them to find healthier coping strategies. In addition, counselors need to remain non-judgmental and help clients develop self-compassion. This can be an effective way for individuals to learn how to care for themselves and take responsibility for their actions.

    Mental Health Services Offered At New Heights Counseling

    Fort Walton Beach Counseling 32578Here at New Heights Counseling, we understand that addiction is a complex disorder and strive to provide our clients with the highest quality of care. Our counselors are experienced in working with individuals struggling with substance abuse, alcoholism, eating disorders, gambling addictions, sex addictions, and more. We are committed to helping individuals find their path to recovery and provide evidence-based treatment approaches, including but not limited to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.

    At New Heights Counseling, we also offer various mental health services for individuals. Our counselors are experienced in treating anxietydepression, stress, grief, loss, addiction, abuse, trauma, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, self-esteem, confidence, body image, and many more. We understand that each individual is unique, and our team of counselors is committed to providing a personalized and compassionate treatment plan tailored to your needs.

    If you, or someone you know, is struggling with addiction, please get in touch with us to learn more about our services. New Heights Counseling’s address is 1992 Lewis Turner BLVD Suite #1057, Fort Walton Beach, FL. Our office is located on the second floor of the Workspace Suites. We service the beautiful Fort Walton Beach, FL. community, and the surrounding areas of NicevilleDestin, and Crestview.

    Contact us today at (850) 757-1552 or visit our website at New Heights Counseling to learn how we can help you take the first step toward recovery.

    Appointment Schedule (Last appointment – 4 PM)

    Fort Walton Beach Addiction Counseling 32547Sunday Closed

    Monday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

    Tuesday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

    Wednesday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

    Thursday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

    Friday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

    Evenings/Weekends by Appointment

    About the Author:

    Fort Walton Beach Counseling 32547Brian Boelk is an LCSW counselor dedicated to helping individuals find their path to recovery and providing them with evidence-based treatment approaches tailored to their needs. He has experience working with individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, alcoholism, and more. Brian is passionate about helping his clients find the courage to access their inner strengths and build a better future for themselves. For more information or to make an appointment with Brian Boelk, please visit our website or call us at (850) 757-1552.