ADDICTION | əˈdikSH(ə)n | noun
the fact or condition of being addicted (physically and mentally dependent) to a particular substance, thing, or activity

We all have our addictions and when life gets uncomfortable, they help us cope by numbing, escaping, and distracting us from the discomfort. Addictions and addictive behaviors can show up as something benign like nail biting but sometimes we turn to more adverse behaviors like cigarettes, alcohol, food or shopping. 

In our culture, the term “addiction” usually leads someone to think about alcohol or drug use, but this is just one of many possibilities.  There are also “process addictions” which refer to an addiction to a rewarding non-substance-related behavior such as gambling, sex, disordered eating patterns, love, internet use and shopping. 

An addiction becomes a problem when it begins interrupting your normal routine and pushes you away from your values and goals in life. When you notice this happening, it can feel confusing and scary and may lead you further into your behavior of choice as a way to cope. Rising feelings of guilt and shame could cause this vicious cycle to progress and increase in severity.

An addiction can become the ultimate tool for avoiding difficult emotions, but it can also rob you of all pleasurable emotions as well. If you notice your life has become negatively impacted because of a particular behavior, that may be a sign that it is time to seek some counseling. Although the cycle can be difficult and terrifying to break, doing so can provide the opportunity to discover a life of strength and purpose. 

In many cases, complete abstinence may be the best course to recovery from an addiction. However, this may not be the best approach for everyone. I use a Harm Reduction approach to help clients map out decisions around their use that have a less harmful impact on their lives. In conjunction, I help clients identify and reflect on their core values in order to get clear on the things that deeply matter to them. The focus of therapy shifts as I help them map out decisions that increase their chances of living a more rich and meaningful life. 

Recovering from any addiction is a brave and difficult journey. You have the power to take that first step. You deserve to feel at peace in your own skin and at ease in your world. I would be honored to guide you along that journey. 

So many times we’ve indulged the short-term pleasure of addiction. We’ve done it so many times that we know that grasping at this hope is a source of misery that makes a short-term pleasure and long-term hell.
— Pema Chödrön in When Things Fall Apart.