Stages of Addiction: When Experimentation Becomes an Addiction

What are the stages of addiction? Maybe you’ve been using a substance for a while and you’re wondering if you’re addicted. Perhaps you’re watching a loved one use drugs or gamble and you’re not sure if his use counts as an addiction.

 

Whatever’s going on, knowing more about how drug use and other habitual behaviors with addictive potential (e.g., shopping, gambling, sex, porn) can progress would be really helpful. For the sake of keeping things simple, for the rest of this post I’m just going to refer to any habit that may progress through these stages as “drug use” or “substance use,” with the understanding that we’re also talking about these other habitual behaviors too.

Minding Your Emotions: How to Recognize and Deal with Your Feelings (Part 3)

minding our emotionsGetting to know and understanding ourselves, our stories, and our feelings is such an important part of personal growth. Learning to live with difficult feelings instead of self-medicating, numbing ourselves, or in some other way avoiding vulnerability is the stuff of life. Doing this hard work of being aware of and owning our “stuff” is key to living with meaning and fulfillment.

 

In part 1 of this series, I shared a personal experience to illustrate how important learning to deal with our most painful feelings is important. In part 2, I talked about why some people have trouble identifying and describing what they feel. In this post, I’d like to share with you some strategies for how you can learn to get to know yourself and your feelings a little better.

How to Recognize and Deal with Your Feelings (Part 1)

how to recognize and deal with your feelingsWe’ve all been there. We have an experience that causes intense feelings to rise up in us, drowning out all others. We become momentarily awash in that painful experience, whether it’s anger, shame, anxiety, fear, or all of the above all at once. We feel so much so quickly, often without fully understanding what’s going on with us.

 

I had an experience like that recently. Without getting into the gritty details, I stepped in it with a family member, someone I love and care for deeply. I didn’t communicate clearly about some of my plans, and she was hurt. Of course, I didn’t mean to hurt her, but that’s beside the point. That’s what I was telling myself in between my flashes of anger, which is always a sure sign that I feel shame.

Pros and Cons of Twelve-Step Programs

pros and cons of twelve-step programsWhat are the pro and cons of twelve-step programs? In the early 20th century, Bill Wilson founded Alcoholics Anonymous in an attempt to address and ultimately cure his confounding and baffling condition. The approach and philosophy of AA are based on medical insights, ancient spiritual traditions, and consultation with a handful of psychologists and more than a few alcoholics.

 

Today, AA and other 12-step programs are easily the most widely known and available support for addiction. Although AA is the original, many splinter groups have formed based on the same 12-step philosophy, including Narcotics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, and Debtors Anonymous.

 

I’ve often referred clients to twelve-step groups if I think they’d be a good fit for such a group and if they’d likely find it helpful. But I’ve realized that AA and its variations aren’t for everyone. Here are some of my thoughts about the pros and cons of twelve-step programs to help you determine what’s right for you.

4 Tips for Safe Drinking

Happy holidays, everyone! Drinking around the holidays can be enjoyable, but if you’ve had some problems with alcohol in the past (like me), this time of year can be challenging. If you’re thinking about making some changes to how you drink or just want to drink more intentionally, here are four tips for safe drinking to keep mind. Well, okay, they’re not so much “tips” on their own as aspects of drinking to consider when planning to drink.

19 Tips for Moderate Drinking During the Holidays

The holidays are a season for laughter, merrymaking, time with family, and gatherings with friends—all of which are often accompanied by alcohol.

 

That’s why for many in recovery the holidays are a tough time. Not only does this time of year bring up a lot of emotional “stuff,” which alone can be triggering, booze is a frequent guest at holiday parties and social gatherings.

My Top Six Books for Partners of Sex and Porn Addicts

Last time, we took a tour of some of my recommended books for those struggling with porn and sex addiction. Today, we’ll consider some books for partners of sex and porn addicts. Fortunately, resources have become more and more available for partners in recent years; the mental health professionals treating sex addiction are recognizing the devastating effects of the addict’s betrayal upon his or her partner. Discovery of the addict’s behaviors is extraordinarily traumatic, so that partners too need supportive care.