Berlin-Based Addiction Counseling
Breaking the bonds and chains of addiction, no matter its form
Addiction takes numerous forms and can affect us at any stage of our lives.
Samar Linn is an integrative counselor who works with addiction. Based in Berlin, Wedding, Samar works with clients to overcome the challenges caused by addictive behaviors, codependent relationship dynamics, conflict, and co-addiction.
Safe, respectful, and compassionate, Samar’s integrative and somatic approach to addiction counseling has helped many break the bonds of addiction.
What is addiction?
Addiction is an unhealthy relationship with something or someone. It is a compulsive need to engage in an activity despite negative or harmful consequences. Addiction is complex, multi-faceted, and it can be physical, psychological, or a combination of both.
An alcoholic will drink no matter how much they hurt themselves physically or emotionally by doing so. A shopaholic will buy things they don’t need even though they know their money could be better spent elsewhere. A gambler will continue to play long after their supply of available funds starts diminishing.
They continue to drink, shop, or gamble despite the consequences because of a combination of factors, rooted in the social, familial, cultural, or others. To experience difficult feelings, to regulate the nervous system to integrate memories or experiences, or to fill an emptiness that is unnameable.
These are just a few examples of addiction, we can be addicted to work, entertainment, drugs, sex, video games, pornography, and myriad other things.
Often, our addictions start as coping mechanisms, a way to handle life’s blows or its ups and downs. For example, binge-watching Netflix to avoid confronting a troubling topic or situation, or using drugs and alcohol as a form of escapism.
Then these mechanisms begin to spiral out of control, taking up a position of importance and too much space in our lives and minds.
‘Pretty’ addictions and their toll
Sometimes addictions take an unexpected form, one which looks ‘pretty’ on the outside but can be just as harmful. These are the addictions that our cultures and societies may laud and reward; think work, volunteering, or care-taking.
When these behaviors are detrimental to ourselves and we find we can’t stop, though, they pass a hard-to-spot line into addiction. We may be seen as helpful and supportive, but internally we’re driven to act by a compulsion to be seen or loved, discounting our own needs or desires out of fear, pain, or a lack of self-respect or self-love.
We can broadly define addiction as any compulsive or uncontrollable habit, one that we may engage in to escape our feelings or our reality. We can even be addicted to those we love and who love us back.
Can we be addicted to people?
We can be addicted to people much like we can be addicted to substances or behaviors. The idea that we can be addicted to others is well-documented and has been the subject of decades’ worth of academic papers and research studies.
Codependency is one term used to describe this, and it has been given a lot of air time in recent years, particularly in pop psychology. However, it’s not always used in the best way. People may use it as an insult or to make light of someone else’s relationship dynamic, for instance.
But when we look at codependency through the eyes of an addiction counselor, we see something very different, something maladaptive that deserves our attention.
Indeed, there are some striking similarities between codependency and substance abuse addictions, especially at the root cause level. The same lowered self-esteem, guilt, and sense of shame that so often go hand in hand with addiction are common in codependence too.
Codependence versus co-addiction
The roots of codependency as a clinical distinction can be traced back to the 1940s when researchers began investigating the impact of addiction on the wives of alcoholics. Today, though, its meaning has shifted and we can broadly define codependency as a behavioral and emotional pattern that’s characterized by a strong desire to maintain and preserve relationships at any cost.
Codependency often involves a caregiving partner who may need to be needed and a partner who leans on the caregiver and may take advantage.
People tend to feel enmeshed with or emotionally attached to others who provide them with what they need at certain times in their lives. This means that when we feel insecure or threatened in our relationships with others, we may become increasingly dependent on them for our perceived survival, or to bolster our sense of self-worth.
In moderation, this dynamic is not inherently unhealthy, it can provide us with a way to cope with difficult circumstances or trauma from our pasts, for example. However, if we become totally consumed by our dependence on another person (or group of people), then it may indicate a problem.
Co-addiction, on the other hand, is the term we use today to describe people who stay in unhealthy relationships with someone who has an addiction. There are significant similarities to our modern conception of codependency, for example, co-addiction generally involves acceptance of an addict’s behaviors and even normalization of these.
Often summed up as an addiction to an addict, co-addiction can be physically and mentally draining on the caregiving partner, leaving little space for their own needs, be they emotional or otherwise.
Healing from addiction, codependency, and co-addiction
When we’re in active addiction, an addictive relationship pattern, or anything else that holds us back from our full potential, it’s because something isn’t working for us. Something is not feeling good enough, safe enough, or worthy enough. And it may be from our present or our past.
We may not be able to clearly see what that trauma is yet (that’s why we’re addicted), but it’s there, underneath it all. Even when we do not think there is trauma, there’s a high chance it exists; rates of PTSD in people with an addiction run at 50 to 60 percent, for example.
Healing is about understanding the gifts addiction offers us. These gifts are insights into the feelings we’ve been trying to bury or escape by using the substance or behavior in question.
Once we understand the roots, we can start making space for what’s underneath: the feelings and beliefs that first placed us in the situation. It’s about understanding and being curious about one’s self, a loving detective of sorts.
As leading addiction expert, Gabor Mate, notes: “Trauma doesn’t happen to you — it happens inside you.”
Addiction and compulsions take us away from the present moment, away from our bodies, away from our communities, but the healing process brings us back into connection with ourselves and our world again.
By learning to come back into contact with the body, ourselves, and the world, and by recognizing the trauma that sparked an addiction for what it is, we can start to heal.
Counseling can help break the cyclical nature of addiction
Addiction is cyclical. Patterns of positive and negative reinforcement lock us into a cycle of behaviors we dislike or even hate, negatively impacting our lives and creating feelings of isolation, depression, or resignation towards life. It can make it hard to recognize ourselves.
Addiction counseling offers a way to start tracing the root causes and learning how to break the cycle.
When struggling with an addiction, reaching out for help can feel like an impossible task. Shame, fears of being a burden on others, and diminished self-esteem and self-respect may hold us back.
But here’s the truth: addictions hold us back from living the lives we deserve.
Seeking assistance, whether it’s through dedicated addiction counseling or another course of action, means taking the very first step towards finding and redefining yourself. It means treating yourself with compassion and empathy.
Addiction counseling in Berlin
Samar Linn is a Berlin-based addiction counselor with a focus on integrative and somatic (body-centered) approaches.
Samar’s training in transpersonal psychology, integrative counseling, art therapy, creative and responsive therapy, and emotional bodywork gives her a unique framework through which to address addiction, no matter which forms it takes or where people are on their journey.
She has extensive experience helping people who are struggling with less-commonly addressed addictions, such as codependency and co-addiction, alongside providing essential support to people who are freeing themselves from mental and physical dependencies.
Samar offers counseling sessions, either online or face-to-face, from her practice in Berlin.
Online and in-person addiction counseling sessions
Online or face-to-face counseling sessions in Wedding, Berlin for anyone who wants support when it comes to overcoming an addiction, be it physical or psychological.
Samar’s approach to counseling is informed by a range of practical theories and empathic knowing. She weaves a somatic approach with a deep understanding of how to support a re-wiring of the autonomic nervous system, helping people recalibrate their systems around the stressors in their lives.
Designed by Samar herself, the KIX Project is a long-running program for anyone living with or curious about addictions, compulsive tendencies, or dependencies of any kind. Through a combination of group sharing and discussion, exercises, and dance, the KIX Project provides a safe and compassionate space to investigate and begin moving beyond addictions.
Its unique and specific approach is a special environment for people to feel less alone, and gain a deeper understanding and practical, actionable tools. Instead of focusing on just ‘an addiction’, the KIX project helps people understand and heal from the root causes.
Addiction, codependency, and co-addiction counseling FAQs
Broadly, it involves helping people who are in active addiction, be it with substances or behaviors, as well as those who are in recovery from addictions.
In sessions, the addiction counselor helps people understand the nature of their addiction, and how it has impacted their lives. They also help people develop strategies to overcome that addiction. Addiction counseling is sometimes conducted in groups and sometimes in one-on-one sessions or a combination of both
Addiction counselors use a range of therapeutic approaches and techniques depending on their own education, experience as a counselor, and preferences. These may be cognitive, such as asking people to keep a journal or complete other forms of self-reflection to gain a better understanding of their situation, or somatic, such as using creative therapies like dance or art.
Codependency is not an addiction in the traditional sense, but it certainly involves a compulsive pattern of behaviors that, when examined, resemble some of the traits seen in addiction.
Characterized by an unhealthy dependence on another person, codependent people often have trouble maintaining healthy relationships because they’re so focused on taking care of someone else that they neglect themselves. Here too, we can see a similarity between codependency and addiction as the person’s focus is narrowed to an unhealthy level; on a person or a substance or behavior, respectively.
Mental Health America notes that people with codependency “often” form one-sided relationships that are “emotionally destructive.”
Yes, codependency is a learned behavior, and like other learned behaviors, it can be addressed and remedied through counseling.
Codependency counseling involves helping the codependent person uncover the root causes of their relationship patterns, how these manifest in their current relationships, and how to break free from the addictive elements of codependency.
For more information and a confidential chat to see if codependency counseling is right for you, please get in touch.
Co-addiction describes a relationship between two people whereby one person’s addiction becomes a problem for both parties involved. The co-addicted person does not necessarily have an addiction themselves, but rather has developed an unhealthy dependence on, or interest in their significant other or their activities.
Many addiction experts believe that some individuals are more prone to co-addiction than others. Co-addiction can be damaging, especially when the co-addicted person lets their own needs fall by the wayside when supporting or trying to take care of the addicted person.
- A compulsive or uncontrollable engagement with substances or behaviors that make the person feel good
- A growing preoccupation with these
- Prolonged and continued use or engagement despite any negative consequences
That’s the short answer, the long answer is that there are many levels to addiction, and these may stretch all the way back to childhood as a creative, resilient way for a child to cope with difficult situations.
In terms of the body’s neurobiological response to addiction, researchers classify addiction as a disease of the brain and note three distinct stages or levels: binge and intoxication, withdrawal and negative affect, and preoccupation and anticipation.
There are differing viewpoints but most addiction experts believe that psychological and biological factors, along with other interrelated factors (including societal, genetic, and environmental) play a role in addiction.
Research tells us that there is a significant overlap between the neurological roots of drug ‘rewards’ and social rewards, for instance. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) research shows that when there’s an option, rats will choose social interaction before self-administered heroin or methamphetamine. But when those social interactions were punished, the rats turned back to drugs.
Whether psychology or biology plays a greater role than others in addiction is subject to much debate. The short answer is that addiction can be both psychological and biological, and in some cases, they work in tandem to create an unhealthy cycle, likely aided by a confluence of other factors, including environmental.
Evidence shows that online counseling has a positive effect on substance abuse addictions. In addition, online therapy may increase access to help, which greatly improves outcomes. As addiction may involve feelings of guilt or shame, online counseling offers a degree of anonymity that some people may find comforting, and which may help them speak freely about their situation.