Do you ever wonder if you do something too much, or to excess?
Has your consumption of gaming, internet, a drug, or alcohol caused disruption to school, work or family life?
Have you felt like you had to lie about what, how much or how often you use/do something?

Together we can explore the question of ‘If you have a problem?” and discover how you can be in control again!

Counseling is an essential part of addiction treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy, family counseling, and other therapy approaches can help people recovering from a variety of substance and behavioral addiction stay clean. Psychotherapy can also address the underlying emotional conditions that contribute to addiction.  Addictions are divided into two primary classifications, Substance Dependence and Process or Behavioral Addictions.

Substance Dependence

alcoholism-addictionsDo you wonder if you have a problem with drugs and/or alcohol.

The essential feature of Substance Dependence is a cluster of cognitive (thoughts), behavioral (actions), and physiological (physical) symptoms indicating that the individual continues use of the substance despite significant substance- related problems.

There is a pattern of repeated self- administration that can result in tolerance, withdrawal, and compulsive drug-taking behavior.

If a client has issues with drug or alcohol abuse evidence-based treatments have been found to achieve the best outcome.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in combination with insight, and systems theories, work well together to help the client to understand the steps to take and how best to achieve recovery.

Some clients embrace an abstinence based approach (AA, 12 Step, SmartRecovery) while other may find that Harm Reduction is a better fit for them. I have experience supporting clients in both abstinence based recovery and those who feel that harm reduction meets their needs.

Each client is unique and we will work together to find the best fit for long term results. The ultimate goal is to understand the underlying reasons for the behaviors that have begun to interfere with their quality of life.

Behavioral Addictions And Impulse Control Disorders (Often called Process Addictions)

A more recent classification for addictions, the threat posed by behavioral addictions to your family, personal life, career and potentially your freedoms are just as devastating a the toll of substance use, and often just as harmful to your physical health.  Some behavioral addictions are diagnosed as addictive disorders by the American Psychological Association’s DSM-V such as overeating, gambling,  and excessive pornography.  Some behavioral addictions are diagnosed as Impulse Control Disorders, or are still pending diagnostic classification  such as obsessive on-line gaming , overuse of technology, compulsive shopping, and obsessive working.

The two behavioral addictions I have the most experience supporting:

Sex, Love, Intimacy and Intrigue Dependence

SLA-addictionsBoth sex addiction and love addiction are understood to be disorders of emotional intimacy characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive acting out behaviors. The difference between these addictions lies specifically in the types of acting out behaviors which may be present.

A sex addict may have a problem with pornography or repeated anonymous sexual experiences, while the love addict acts out in relationship-by clinging to a partner (sometimes one who is destructive to him or her), by avoiding love and/or intimacy with a partner, by moving from one relationship to the next, or maintaining multiple relationships through intrigue, and/or by not being able to cope when a relationship ends.  Intimacy avoidance is also disorder of this type.

SexWomanThe neurochemical changes that occur in the emotional heights of intimate relationships, and the intense stimulation of sexual activity are both able to generate the  addictive “hit” and much like substances, they are often used by addicts to avoid more emotionally unpleasant experiences, or to anesthetize emotional pain for a short while with pleasure and/or excitement.

When a love addict ends a relationship, and when a sex addict goes without sex or sexual acting out behaviors, both may experience withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms may include: depression, uneasiness, anxiety, restlessness, or irritability.  In counseling we can address both these symptoms, and the underlying causes of your need to withdraw into unhealthy behaviors, and we will work together to find a pathway to healthy intimacy and positive sexual expression.

Internet/Technology/Gaming Addiction

technology-addictionDo you wonder if you spend too much time playing games, using twitter, texting, or surfing the internet for distractions.  If you find yourself with more friends on facebook then you have in real life, making excuses for your technology use, or regularly sitting at dinner with family or friends paying more attention to your smartphone you may have something to worry about.  Studies show that between 8-10% of technology users in the United States meet criteria for addictive or problematic use of one or more technologies.

Can technology be addictive?

Yes, any behavior that has mood altering properties can become addictive. There are numerous neurochemical changes that occur during pleasurable behaviors. These chemical changes can elicit a “hit” whereby one experiences a sense of temporary pleasure. Furthermore addictive behaviors often serve the purpose of blocking other negative emotions or problems in our lives, further reinforcing the addictive cycle.  Spending a lot of time using technology is not the problem (although it can be), rather it is how that time spent impacts your life that determines the seriousness of the problem.

If you think you may have a problem with technology, lets discuss your usage habits, and how it affects your life.  I have worked with technology addicts extensively, helping them regain connection to real life while learning to balance a sustainable live with the ever present need for technology in our modern society.