Substance and Behavioral Addictions and Interventions
Substance and behavioral addictions are not a moral issues. Addiction is a chronic, progressive disease of the reward system and other functions of the brain. Addiction can affect some or all aspects of one’s life and the lives of others who care about the addict.
Addiction is characterized by changes and disruption of neurotransmitters in the brain. These changes contribute to loss of control over the use of alcohol, other drugs, and some behaviors such as sex, gambling, internet gaming, and pornography.
I stay current with the state of the art research. I also work with medical doctors who may prescribe medications when indicated that are helpful in treating aspects of addiction and other co-occurring conditions.
There are two distinct types of addiction:
One is to substances, the other is behaviors such as sex, gambling, computer gaming and internet porn. It is common that someone with a substance addiction will also have a behavioral addiction and vice versa.
Substance Use Disorder
I have spent the past 35 years working with individuals, couples and families where substance abuse and dependency is an issue. I also treat clients who are addicted to prescription opiates such as Vicodin or its stronger version Norco. I find that more and more clients are addicted to prescription anti-anxiety medications such as Valium, Xanax, and Ativan to name a few.
Heroin has become less expensive and is being smoked and injected by adolescents and adults. In some cases prescription drug dependency can lead to the heroin addiction.
Marijuana has become increasingly potent over the past decades, and contrary to some beliefs can be quite addictive. There are characteristic withdrawal symptoms that may include headache, stomach distress, restlessness, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety and irritability.
Many behaviors that become addictive are also based in brain chemistry. Compulsive gamblers, porn addicts, and those addicted to internet gaming experience increases in dopamine and other neurotransmitters that make them feel good. For some chaos, excessive work, and high-risk activities also become rewarding.
This age of the internet accessibility to pornography is changing how many of us act as sexual beings. This effect will only intensify in generations to come. Compulsive use of pornography and sexually acting out in massage parlors or with prostitutes is ravaging to any relationship. There are more and more treatment options to treat sexual addiction not only for the addict, but for others who are affected.
I have extensive experience treating individuals, couples, and families whose lives are impacted by behavioral addiction, in particular sexual addictions.