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Is there an AddictionGym like the MoodGym for people dealing with substance abuse?

answered 01:51 PM EST, Fri February 03, 2012
I know there is mood gym that offers cognitive behavioral therapy free of charge online for people with depression and anxiety. I have used mood gym and found it helpful. Unfortunately I am still battling to overcome my alcoholism. I think that an online cognitive behavioral therapy program to help with alcoholism would be really ideal for me. Do you know if there is something similar to mood gym available to help people quit drinking?

Art Matthews Says...

First of all let me say I am not an addiction counselor, even though I am featured on ChooseHelp.com, a site reaching out to people seeking help for addiction and substance abuse.

I think it's important to differentiate here between online therapy and online self-help resources. The MoodGym is not therapy but an online resource with activities that assist people is guiding themselves through a self-help process in dealing with their moods. Therapy involves interaction with a qualified and licensed professional trained in providing therapy and therapeutic communication.

To my knowledge there has not been an online program designed like the MoodGym for alcohol or other addiction that is free, or for a fee for that matter. You will be able to find online therapists and services that involve actual therapy with a licensed addiction professional that are available on the web; however, I must caution you to take the due diligence to look into the person's education, training and license. For your protection, I suggest working with a profession who resides in the same state or province as you do so that if you have issues concerning their professionalism or treatment, you can go to the board of licensure for recourse.

As a distance credentialed counselor (DCC), I know that there are many situations where online therapy is good and many situations where it is not an answer even though it is convenient. Addiction counseling is one area where I question if distance counseling can be effective. One of the major issues for addicts and alcoholics is that they tend to isolate from people, have difficulty with interpersonal communication, appropriate relationships and boundaries. How does one address those issues that are behind the physiological aspect of addiction without being with people?

One of the main reasons posited for the success of 12 step groups is related to group membership and support. When people first admit they have a problem and enter a 12 step program, they are often relieved at how they are like other people and how their experience that seemed to be so alien from the rest of the world is actually somewhat common. I know that 12 step groups have their problems, most often on a religious basis or the lifetime expectation of abstinence. But there are other group programs out there such as SMART Recovery that have addressed some of those concerns.

Trying to only rely on ourselves to solve a problem is another issue that many people have who are dealing with addiction. People in recovery often have to learn how and when to reach out for help and to admit our shortcomings without shame or blame. Using an online self-help approach will only challenge you to go as far as you are comfortable. You'll be able to easily avoid what you don't want to deal with at any particular time. Making a commitment to a therapist or a group creates a power, a drive to stick to your treatment.

Think long and hard about how you want to proceed. Make sure you are doing the right thing, not the easy or convenient thing. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices that are hard to ensure we get the best, most effective help possible. It's worth it.

Best of luck to you.

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Page last updated Feb 03, 2012

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