Understanding Addiction, Part 1: The Disease Model

understanding addiction“Why? Why do I keep doing this?” I get this question a lot, especially from new clients who are struggling to comprehend why they keep engaging in an addictive behavior they don’t want to keep doing. They struggle in understanding addiction.

 

I get it. I’ve been there. I wondered the same for a long time. I couldn’t understand why I continued to drink when I felt as ashamed about it as I did. Eventually, I came to understand why I started to drink and why I continued to need to drink.

 

Eventually, I came to understand that I drank to alleviate my own shame and anxieties. Understanding what alcohol was doing for me helped me learn to be more authentic and manage my feelings differently. When I didn’t need alcohol anymore, I spontaneously stopped when I got tired of how much it was taking from me.

 

Maybe you’re trying to understand your drinking, gambling, sexual behaviors, or other addictive behaviors. Really, you’re asking about what you don’t understand about yourself. That’s where looking at a few models of understanding addiction can help.

What I Learned About Our Need for Connection from My Son’s Meltdown

need for connection

This is not my son. My son is much cuter. #sayseveryfatherever

My three-year-old had an epic meltdown yesterday. “Game of Thrones” season 8 epic. The huge battle scene in the “Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King” epic. Metalllica’s Black Album epic. And for that matter, the Beatles’ White Album epic.

 

The morning started off well, actually. Our family has been a bit stressed as we’re getting back into the groove of things after the holidays, as so many of us are. The Missus started school again this week and left very early yesterday for school. We had all enjoyed spending more time together during her holiday break from her studies, especially my son.

 

Saying goodbye to her when she leaves in the morning has sometimes been very hard for my son, so I was a little surprised yesterday when there were no tears at her departure. “Goodbye!” he said, smiling and continuing to play. She kissed him goodbye, then me, and wished us both a good day.

What to Do When You Don’t Know

what to do when you don't know“I don’t know.” I’ve had no fewer than three clients today say this to me. It’s such a privilege to be with them in this sacred space at the edge of their awareness and understanding.

 

“Hold on,” you say. “‘I don’t know’? What does that mean? Don’t know what?

 

That’s a great question, because chances are, you’ve experienced a moment in your life when you’ve tried to make changes and haven’t quite known how to get there. There are a few different ways to think about what to do when you don’t know, especially when it comes to counseling. Let’s dive in.

How I’m Learning to Slow Down (and How You Can, Too)

learning to slow down

“Learning to slow down,” an image of a snail, a snail is slow… You get it.

Learning to slow down in our fast-paced society is so difficult, but lately I’ve been realizing just how important it really is. Some of the last few posts I’ve written in this blog have been less focused on tips, advice, and other forms of useful content that I’ve always felt a lot of pressure to produce.

How Much to Tell & When, Part 4: What to Do When Your Partner Asks about Your Sex Addiction

This post is the fourth in a series of posts called How Much to Tell and When: Disclosure in Early Recovery. Click here to read part 1, here for part 2, and here for part 3.

 

One of the most common questions I get from clients struggling with sex or porn addiction is how to respond to their partners when they’re hurting and asking for more details about their previous acting out. “What do I say when she comes at me like that?”

 

As we’ve seen, the answer isn’t so simple. In part 1, we discussed spontaneous disclosure and a little about how this traumatizes partners. In part 2, we saw how waiting to tell her about all acting out behaviors via formal disclosure can actually be healing to both partners in the long run. In part 3, though, we established that waiting until formal disclosure often sucks. Big time.

 

All of that was necessary to answer one of the most common questions in early recovery: How should you, a sex addict in recovery, respond to your partner when she asks for more information about your acting out?

7 Ways to Love Your Partner When She’s Hurting After a Betrayal

If you’re reading this, perhaps you’re going through a very difficult time in your relationship or marriage. You’ve betrayed your partner in some way, whether it was infidelity, sex addiction, or watching pornography.

 

In other words, you got caught cheating. Now you’re in the doghouse, and you don’t know what to do. You want to work on the relationship, but you’re not sure how.

 

You love your partner, but when she’s overwhelmed with her pain about what’s happened, you feel stuck. Maybe she’s raging at you. Maybe she’s flooded by anxiety. Maybe she’s sobbing uncontrollably.

 

How do you respond in a loving way that helps rebuild intimacy and restore trust in the relationship?

The Double Life of a Christian Sex Addict

“When I was eight, the imposter, or false self, was born as a defense against pain. The imposter within whispered, ‘Brennan, don’t ever be your real self anymore because nobody likes you as you are. Invent a new self that everybody will admire and nobody will know.’ So I became a good boy—polite, well-mannered, unobtrusive, and deferential. I studied hard, scored excellent grades, won a scholarship in high school, and was stalked every waking moment by the terror of abandonment and the sense that nobody was there for me.”

– Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child

How You Might Be Avoiding Conflict in Your Relationship

After parking in your driveway, you notice that the walk from your car to the door of your home seems much, much longer today. You’re feeling uneasy about going inside as the going has been rough with your partner lately. It’s a stressful time for both of you, and you’ve been at odds more than usual. While you may not be concerned about the health of the relationship—you’ve weathered storms together before, you’ve understandably been texting and talking with your best friend about it as you’ve needed some support. The calls, the coffee meetings, the texts with your friend have been a breath of fresh air. Without even knowing it, though, the uptick in contact with your friend might be a way you’re avoiding conflict in your relationship.

The Best Resource for Making Your Marriage Sweet

“What resources can you recommend that will help us with our marriage?” As a marriage counselor, I hear this question a lot, especially from couples I see for the first time. Like so many married partners, these couples quite understandably want to know what they can do to make their marriage better. Of course, a number of books, articles, blogs, and podcasts come to the top of my mind in response, but when couples ask about resources to improve their relationship, my first answer is always the same: you. You are the best resource available for making your marriage sweet.