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An essential force for change

By Warren Vinciguerra, Senior Addiction Therapist

Warren Vinciguerra on compassion.

Addicts and Alcoholics are cloaked in shame. This is caused by the negative attitudes towards them by friends, relatives, the media and society in general.

The stigma around addiction and the culture of blame is a heavy burden that alcoholics and addicts internalise and believe to be true, no matter how much they try to deny it.

This does nothing to help them. You can’t shame a person into sobriety. Shame and blame exacerbate the sense of worthlessness and leads to more drinking and drug taking to escape the feelings.

Their life history in your hands

When someone finds the courage to enter treatment, it’s essential they are met with warmth and affirmation of this huge positive step. At Help Me Stop, part of my role is to talk to clients about their life history. This requires time and consideration as the client may not have opened up about this before.

A very gentle touch is needed and it takes time because you need to stop at important points to help the person recognise the significance of events. And your compassionate responses to what you’re hearing needs to reassure and give hope of the possibility of recovering.

It’s not an easy task; you’re being entrusted with a person’s deepest fears and feelings.

Get it wrong and you could lose them – get it right and you feel the joy of a deep human connection. This is true compassion.