Are you frustrated by addictive behavior in yourself or your family member?
Is there constant conflict because of addiction?
Does the statement "I am going to stop…" hit home for you, because things didn't stop?
Have mood symptoms such as anxiety, anger, and/or depression gotten worse because of addictive behavior?
Are you unsure about whether or not an issue with addiction even exists?
These are just a few examples of questions you might be asking. If you identify with any of the above questions, we can help. The decision to look into treatment for addiction, whether it is you, your child, your partner, a family member, or even a friend, is a huge first step. Uncertainty is a regular part of this process, especially when it comes to seeking support for addiction.
Addiction is a disease with neurological, behavioral, and social themes that reveals itself through behavior and within relationships. Therefore, we utilize a unique, multifaceted approach to treatment when treating teens and adults, discussed later.
Addiction is a brain disorder. It frequently occurs with anxiety, depression, and ADHD, as well as other mental health conditions. From a neurological perspective, addictive behaviors activate the pleasure seeking part of the brain, and shuts down the rational part of the brain, which is the area that considers consequences and controls decision-making-that's why addiction isn't about willpower. This process can be viewed on brain scans. This also speaks to why behaviors and consequences get worse despite attempts to "stop." Additionally, addiction is a behavior that exists as a coping mechanism to manage stressors and other painful emotions that impact the brain on a neurological level.
There is a spectrum with addiction; people can be at different levels of severity in terms of the behavior and consequences. Examples:
- A teenager might be up all night playing video games. Their sleep and their grades suffer, and they are more irritable, despite attempts from themselves and their family to decrease the behavior.
- An adult had back surgery, where they were prescribed opiates. Eventually, they began using heroin. Despite consequences, they couldn't stop, and got a divorce, along with multiple other issues. They initially didn't even realize that the pain medications were an issue, and they were using too much.
- A young man drank alcohol socially but then it progressed to him drinking daily in order to cope with a bad breakup with his girlfriend. He said he would stop his excessive drinking after he got over the breakup but he never stopped. He drank continuously for several months and missed many days of work which eventually led to him being fired.
It is often a discrete process, where people are unaware of their behavior. To that end, addiction is an insidious disease where symptoms worsen over time. Behaviors will frequently continue despite consequences, and these consequences will also get worse over time. Despite differences amongst the details of the behavior, the common theme is that someone is using a behavior to manage pain and stress, which creates more of the same thing, especially when not addressed early on. Therefore, early intervention is critical.
Addiction is a social disease. People often have addictive behaviors, which serve as a means to manage connection to the world around them. This can look like:
- Drinking at a party to manage social anxiety or trying pills because all your friends are doing it, and you don't want to look like the "weird" one.
- You or someone you know stays on their phone all the time, and communication is impaired.
- Someone one you know has addiction, and it is impacting the relationship, creating pain for you.
People will use addictive behaviors to manage social connection, but in the long run, the disease ends up managing them and/or those involved with them, with multiple consequences. Healthy relationships with meaningful interactions are critical to recovery from addiction, which includes working with a therapist.
A compassionate and nonjudgmental approach to treatment of addiction is integral to a productive working relationship with a therapist. People often say "connection is the opposite of addiction," which also rings true when working with a therapist. We use a different, tailored approach to fit the needs of our teen and adult clients, as everyone has different needs. Addiction is personal, and needs personalized treatment. These treatment strategies include:
- Figuring out what drives/increases the addictive behavior. This can mean that addiction can serve as a coping mechanism to manage issues such as mental health conditions, increased stressors, social needs, and/or low self-esteem. Addiction is the tip of the iceberg, and it's necessary to find out what is underneath
- Evidence-based treatment approaches to find healthier ways of managing stressors, that empower people for behavior change
- Peer support meetings, such as 12-step meetings, or Smart Recovery, etc.
- Referrals for medication management, if needed
- Relapse prevention planning
Our overall goal is to support individuals in breaking the cycle of addiction and decrease stress and suffering. Everyone is worthy of support and healing. Please contact us today to find out how we can work with you to help you navigate your journey today.
Modern Family Counseling
And ask for an appointment this week with
Sarah Kimelblatt-Devries, LSW
Certified Addictions Counselor