Struggling with an addiction is awful.
It’s awful for the person with the addiction and it’s just as hard – maybe even harder – for their loved ones.
I’ve spent my entire career working with addictions of one form or another. Alcoholism, drugs, sex, eating disorders, and gambling primarily. There are a couple of things that I’ve learned:
- Every addict I’ve ever worked with has trauma. Trauma doesn’t cause addiction, but it makes it a lot harder to stop.
- The 12-steps beat therapy most of the time. My own experience is that sobriety from addiction is most effectively provided via 12-step groups. Working the steps (not just going to meetings) does things that even the most sophisticated clinician can’t take care of and that’s typically the direction I encourage my clients to go.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, I can help. I’ve been working with addicts professionally since 2006
Drugs and alcohol are the most commonly recognized addictions. In the past 20 years, behavioral addictions such as gambling, sex, and eating disorders are gaining widespread acknowledgment in our culture as well.
Treatment of addiction has been my passion since I started in this field in 2006.
Factors that can underlie an addiction.
There’s usually some trauma. I don’t know that I’ve yet seen an addict who did not have some sort of childhood trauma. Keep in mind that what’s not experienced as traumatic for one person can often be experienced that way by another. In any case, working through trauma – while not always necessary – can be quite helpful.
Shame inevitably plays a role. Shame is the feeling of unworthiness, a feeling that I don’t belong. Most people who have an addiction are either leading a double life or openly rebelling from their family. Doing bad things makes me feel bad about myself. That’s why part of recovery is doing service work.
There’s a fear of something. Every addict I’ve worked with had some sort of major life task they didn’t believe could be handled. Sometimes it was keeping a job, having kids, having long-term relationships, dealing with anger… The list is long and varied. Facing that fear is a significant part of the process of overcoming an addiction.
Lots of resentment. Addiction is driven by a fundamental belief that something is not fair. At times that belief appears to be quite accurate – many of my clients come from circumstances that were grossly unfair. But learning to deal with resentment appropriately is one of the central components of recovery.
There’s a spiritual component. Addicts are inherently “religious” people. They’ve just been “religious” about their drug or behavior. They’ve exhibited a passion and dedication for their addiction that’s often far greater than what so-called religious people put forth. I typically suggest that my clients consider whether the god they’ve been following is still a good fit.
Resolving an addiction is often a matter of discovering and diffusing what drives it.
When we’re able to do that the addiction will often fall aside.