Addiction Articles

Are You ‘Addicted’ to Something?

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

addiction-300x212The definition of  “addiction,” and what people can become “addicted” to, are hotly contested issues. In everyday conversation, of course, people throw around the word “addicted” a lot, as in, “I’m addicted to Game of Thrones.”

Addiction, whatever it might be, is a subject that’s related to my current fascination: habits. As I explain in the introduction of Better Than Before, my discussion of habit formation doesn’t cover addictions, compulsions, nervous habits, or habits of mind. Nevertheless, I did a lot of reading and thinking about addiction, because it’s a useful area to consider.

Hopeful Lessons from Robin Williams and Kurt Cobain

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Hopeful Lessons from Robin Williams and Kurt CobainI’m old enough to remember Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994, and what a major cultural and news event it was.

Although there have been other celebrity deaths in the years since, it’s only now with Robin Williams that a suicide has had as much attention and social magnitude.

The differences over time are striking. Social media has changed the nature of news as well as the conversation about news, and blogs make it easy for anyone to publish online what once might have been op-eds and letters to the editor in paper newspapers and magazines. Retweets and faves on @unsuicide reached an all-time high this week, with more people interested in both learning about and sharing information on suicide prevention. Mashable noticed a powerful and far-reaching positive change in the dialogue about suicide.

Can a Sex Addict Also Be a Codependent?

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Can a Sex Addict also be a Codependent?In my 27 years working with addicts and codependents, I rarely have come across a completely healthy partner of an addict. Although addicts’ partners are unequivocally not to blame for the addiction, and most certainly not the consequences of it, they certainly carry responsibility for the shared relationship problems.

The nature of shared relational responsibility is even more pronounced in the sex addict/co-addict (partner) relationship. Addiction psychotherapists all have experienced how both the addict and his or her partner participate, either actively or passively, in their dysfunctional relationship.

The Difference Between Love and Love Addiction

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

The Difference between Love and Love AddictionEven for a securely attached personality, falling in love can be temporarily disorienting. We are all familiar with phrases such as “she took my breath away” or “he swept me off my feet.” Usually, however, this initial whirlwind is followed by a period of trust-building and the establishment of true intimacy based on mutual respect and understanding.

The above phrases often have a very different meaning for a love addict. They signal destabilization and loss of autonomy. Infatuation can mark the beginning of a downward spiral into obsession and constant preoccupation.

Sexual Addiction, Depression, and the Emotional Affair

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

JealousyI am helping my friend, I’ll call her Pam, end an emotional affair. I mean, it’s not the kind of emotional affair where she tells the guy that she loves him. They don’t have secret meetings, or talk every day, or have “code language.”

To an outsider, the relationship wouldn’t seem inappropriate in the slightest. Yet she’s invested herself emotionally — letting it take a big chunk out of her heart — which is creating all kinds of guilt and anxiety for her.

Withdrawal: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Withdrawal: the Good, the Bad, and the UglyWithdrawal makes love addiction different from codependency. Like any other addict, a love addict wants a fix — in this case, the object of his or her obsession. That could be a particular person, or a relationship in general. So what happens when that “substance” goes away?

There are two ways a love addict enters withdrawal: They’ve ended the relationship or tried to. Or his or her partner has left the relationship — explicitly, or by becoming obsessed with his or her own addictive behavior. As soon as the love addict feels the other person’s absence, it will trigger feelings of loss.

What Goes on Inside an Intervention?

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

What Goes on Inside an Intervention?Interventions have become a household word for the general public, thanks to television shows such as “Celebrity Rehab” and “Intervention.” Although an intervention is not necessary in every situation, some situations benefit greatly from one. Every situation is different, but most interventions do follow a similar structure.

An intervention is a planned event where friends and family members face an addict about his or her problems. An intervention is carefully planned and provides a forum for family members and loved ones to confront the problem and express their concerns, in the hope that a person will enter treatment.

Delusions of the Codependent

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Delusions of the CodependentOne of the most painful moments for a codependent is when he or she realizes that a relationship is not going to work out as imagined. Facing the end of a relationship is stressful for most people, and it is normal and natural to do whatever we can to keep a relationship going. But a codependent (and particularly one who is also a love addict) will typically go above and beyond what most people will do to help a relationship succeed, giving far more effort, time, energy, attention, and other resources than their partner does.

They often end up feeling angry, resentful, exhausted, lonely, and bitter. Sometimes they become martyrs, complaining about how much they’ve done and how little they are loved, appreciated, or getting in return. And every now and then they will do really desperate things to try to control the outcome.

Not the Man I Used to Know

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

Not the Man I Used to KnowEarly in my sobriety, I became friendly with a university professor who regularly attended my home group meeting. This person taught political science, and I enjoyed our conversations about current events, especially discussions around the Middle East, as Israeli and Palestinian tensions were peaking during this period. He was a supportive friend, and encouraged me to mentor another newcomer who later became one of my very best friends.

A short time into our friendship, the professor showed up late to our meeting and was disruptive throughout the hour. He stood up several times in the middle of other people sharing, washed his face in the small kitchenette sink, and had several coughing fits. It was odd, but I didn’t know enough to confront him or suggest he leave the meeting.

Take Charge of Your Health, One Appointment at a Time

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

beverlyhillsmagazine.com“Really, it’s not you. It’s me,” I said to my psychiatrist this morning at an appointment.

I felt as though I were telling a boyfriend that I needed space, that I had been having lunch with another guy and now I was confused about where to go or how to proceed or what I wanted.

Returning to Work after Addiction Treatment

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Returning to Work after TreatmentEvery year, thousands of white-collar professionals enter treatment for addiction to alcohol and drugs. In treatment they are taught new skills for living productive and fulfilled lives without mind-altering substances. After completing a 30- to 90-day inpatient program, possibly with some additional time in a less restrictive sober living community, they return to work.

In their absence, not much has changed back at the office; the expectations and associated stress have continued without a break. These newly sober professionals are inserted back into a culture from where they came and where they drank.

A Codependent’s Take on the Disney Song ‘Let It Go’

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

A Codependent's Take on the Disney Song "Let It Go"I finally broke down and watched the movie Frozen. I just don’t have any compelling reasons to watch Disney these days, with no kids under 10 in my household. So it took me a while to get around to it.

Of course, I’d heard the hit song during and after the Academy Awards (who could have missed all the chatter about Travolta’s gaffe with Idina Menzel’s name?). Quite honestly, the song just didn’t do that much for me.

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