Addiction Articles

Using Behavioral Psychology to Break Bad Habits

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Using Behavioral Psychology to Break Bad HabitsWhether it’s smoking, overeating, or worrying, we all have bad habits we would love to get rid of. Behavioral psychology can help. It is one of the most-studied fields in psychology, and it offers great insight into how to break bad habits and build up healthy habits in their place.

Realize the Reward of Your Bad Habit

If you have a bad habit, it is because you are being rewarded for it in some way. Behavioral psychology claims that all of our behavior is either rewarded or punished, which increases or decreases the chance of us repeating that behavior.

If you smoke, you are rewarded with stress relief. If you overeat, you are rewarded with the taste of food. If you procrastinate, you are temporarily rewarded with more free time. Find out how your bad habits are rewarding you, and then you can figure out how to replace them.

Sexual Sobriety: Recovering from Sex Addiction

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Sexual SobrietyMaking the discovery that you are a sex addict usually is facilitated by a pivotal experience that brings to light behaviors that were shameful or secretive. Often the person’s life grinds to a halt. Faced with some sort of loss, there is a realization that one’s sexual behaviors have become unmanageable and important steps need to be taken toward healing.

Therapy can be an important first step, and finding a therapist with experience treating sex addiction is crucial.

Alcohol May Not Help: Alcohol’s Impact on Your Mental Health

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Alcohol and Mental HealthAlcoholism is common among people suffering from mental health conditions. People experiencing anxiety, depression, impulsivity, or other diagnosable mental illnesses often turn to alcohol to find temporary solace. Additionally, people who do not have a mental health diagnosis, yet are encountering a phase of overwhelming emotions, drink dangerously.

For example, while struggling with the aftermath of trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse, people drink to escape the pain. Alcohol is used as a coping mechanism for those enduring a great deal of stress or hardship, such as getting fired from a job or losing a loved one.

Drinking represses the negative emotions that affect the mental well-being of those with diagnosed mental health concerns and those who simply feel emotionally flooded.

The Psychology of Addictive Relationships

Monday, March 24th, 2014

The Psychology of Addictive RelationshipsLove addicts often have the best intentions. They desire to have happy, healthy relationships. However, underneath these good intentions lies a covert struggle with intimacy. With sex and love addiction, there is always a hidden agenda to get needs met that are based in feelings of insecurity.

When there is dysfunction in the family of origin, love objects are unconsciously sought out with the goal of replaying unfinished business from childhood.

It is not always a relationship with a parent that we are repeating; it can be a relationship with any family member that is unresolved. Mourning childhood losses and allowing oneself to process the pain of past hurt sets us free to select more positive relationships.

The Hunger Fix: Managing Your Addiction to Food

Friday, March 14th, 2014

The Hunger Fix: Managing Your Addiction to FoodThere’s a scene in an episode of “Sex and the City,” where Miranda Hobbes has shamelessly salvaged a cupcake from the trash and, half of the thing in her mouth, leaves a voicemail with Carrie admitting her weak moment in case her friend needs that evidence when she admits her into the Betty Ford clinic. Katie Couric played the clip before introducing her guest, Dr. Pam Peeke, internationally recognized expert, physician, and author in the fields of nutrition, stress, fitness, and public health, on the “Katie” show.

Peeke’s latest book, The Hunger Fix (a New York Times bestseller), lays out the science to prove that fatty, sugary, salty processed foods produce in a food addict’s brain the same chemical reaction as addictions to crack cocaine and alcoholism.

Peeke uses neuroscience to explain how, with repeated exposure coupled with life stresses, any food can become a “false fix” and ensnare you in a vicious cycle of food obsession, overeating, and addiction. The dopamine rushes in the body work the same way with food as with drugs like cocaine.

Introducing the Science of Addiction

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Introducing the Science of AddictionThe topic of addiction is a big one, and one that seems to grow every year in the United States.

There’s a lot of information about addiction, online, on TV, and elsewhere. But it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between the marketing of treatments for addiction, and what the actual science and research shows.

That’s why it’s my pleasure to introduce our new blog, The Science of Addiction with Richard Taite.

Working the Steps for Love Addicts

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

Working the Steps for Love AddictsFor love addicts, finding balance in life can be a struggle. Understanding and respecting their own boundaries requires that they have a knowledge of themselves and their limits and, as well, an honesty regarding the unmanageability that love addiction and toxic relationships can cause.

Entering a 12-step program such as Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) can be a very important part of the recovery work from love addiction. Modeled after the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, the 12 steps for recovery from love addiction look similar, with a few differences that address the addiction specifically.

Will the New DSM-5 Over-Diagnose?

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Will the New DSM-5 Over-Diagnose?Positive psychology emphasizes individuals’ strengths, and focuses on obtaining optimal mental development (as opposed to just diminishing negative symptoms), which is why I’m drawn to the field. For instance, positive psychologists not only seek to lift depression, but they encourage clients to explore their sense of happiness and resilience as well.

While not a student of abnormal psychology, I’m obviously aware that there are those who suffer from very serious illnesses. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) is published by the American Psychiatric Association to provide a standard classification and common language for mental illness. It’s used by clinicians and researchers of various orientations and backgrounds.

And with the advent of the latest edition, diagnoses run rampant, encouraging us to pose the infamous question: are mental health professionals a bit too ready to diagnose disorders?

6 Ways to Become More Independent, Less Codependent

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

6 Ways to Become More Independent, Less Codependent “Most of us live in a state of codependence, be it with our partners, friends or social group,” according to Isha Judd, author of the books Love Has Wings and Why Walk When You Can Fly . We let others shape our beliefs and decisions — so much so that we lose sight of who we are, she said.

Darlene Lancer, MFT, a psychotherapist and author of Codependency for Dummies, also noted that many people don’t become fully autonomous, instead “forming our feelings and behaviors around something external.”

Autonomy means being the author of your life, she said. You compose the rules you live by. It means “owning your own reality, perceptions, thoughts, feelings, opinions [and] memories.”

Coping with Your Partner’s Sex Addiction

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Coping with Your Partner's Sex AddictionUpon experiencing the trauma of finding out that your partner is a sex addict, you will likely be grieving the loss of your relationship as it once was. You may have feelings of emotional numbness.

At other times, you may feel rage and sadness. The important thing is to seek help from a therapist experienced in treating sex addiction, as well as to connect with other partners who are able to relate to your experience, either through group therapy, or a 12-step group such as S-Anon or COSA.

The 12 Steps & Partners of Sex Addicts in Recovery

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

The 12 Steps & Partners of Sex Addicts in RecoveryPartners of sex addicts often are devastated when they come in for therapy, and so usually have a lot of questions about how to proceed.

Many partners are so focused on the sex addict’s strides toward recovery that they often overlook themselves and their own care. I emphasize to partners of sex addicts that it is crucial to look at the ways that they have been affected by sex addiction and to actively engage in their own recovery process.

Partners of sex addicts are dealing with the trauma of discovery and, oftentimes, don’t know where to turn. Here’s a good place to start.

4 More Spiritual Tips for Staying Sane Through the Holidays

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

4 More Spiritual Tips for Staying Sane Through the HolidaysAs the holiday season winds up for its last big week before Christmas, here are a few spiritual tips to help you remember what the season’s all about. This is part two of a two-part article (part one is here).

4. Celebrate your truth.

I have a friend named Wayne who had an awful life. He was maybe 12 years old when, looking around the dinner table, he finally did the math that estranged him from his family.

You see, Wayne had four older brothers, each a year apart, and Wayne was born four years after the last. He knew immediately that he wasn’t supposed to be there; he knew immediately that he was an accident. Even worse, he knew that everyone in that household hated and resented his existence.

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