Addiction can be described as any obsessive, compulsive process that successfully removes intolerable reality. When addictive behavior becomes the most important aspect of the addicts life, the addict has a pathological relationship with a mood-altering substance or behavior.  The addicts brain has, in essence, been hijacked.  Relationships, values, jobs, health and other elements that give meaning and purpose to our lives, become secondary.  The primary relationship is with the mood-altering substance or behavior.  The addict struggles with the addiction as the primary source of meaning, nurturing and excitement in a world perceived as meaningless, empty and boring.

Those of us who treat addiction know that people use their addictive processes as their God.  These behaviors reduce stress briefly by providing a short-term solution before creating tremendous problems that actually increase stress, unmanageability and feelings of inadequacy.  When these individuals discover that their addiction has failed them, they simply switch addictions which creates chaos and stress all over again.  It’s like switching seats on the Titanic.

Hallmarks of addiction include:

    • Progression: Use in larger amounts or for longer periods than intended
    • Persistant desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or stop the behavior
    • Withdrawal symptoms
    • Preoccupation and obsession with the addiction                                                                                  
    • Time spent obtaining, using or recovering from the addiction
    • Continued use despite negative consequences

Process Addictions:

Instead of using drugs or alcohol to obtain a specific mood state, a behavior is used in such a compulsive way that neurochemicals flood the system resulting in intense arousal states.  The addict uses the behavior to self-medicate or manage intense emotions and becomes preoccupied with the behavior just as much as an alcoholic may obsess about a drink.

Process Addictions Include:

    • Sex addiction
    • Gambling
    • Eating disorders
    • Shopping or spending
    • Work
    • Risk taking

One of the most useful tools for recovery from substance dependency and behavioral addictions is a 12-step program.  Meetings offer opportunities for support, shame reduction, accountability and guidance.  Twelve step groups have helped millions recover, one day at a time from the disease of alcoholism and other addictions.  Working with a therapist who understands addiction in conjunction with engaging in a 12-step program, can be one of the most helpful steps you can take in recovery. Individual, group and couples therapy have also been shown to increase the chance of a successful recovery.  Therapy will focus on a deeper examination and understanding of what is driving your addiction and what changes will need to be made. Much of recovery is about changing the conversation in our heads.  A good therapist will help you do just that.

Phone: (860) 490-3292
Email Seth A. Weinstein

Seth A. Weinstein, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor
Specializing in Addictions, Trauma and Codependency