Psychotherapy and Psychological Assessment
Phone: 973.734.0780

Substance Abuse and Addictions

Learn from yesterday
Live for today
Hope for tomorrow.

Albert Einstein

Addiction is a vicious cycle. It can begin as a coping technique to relax, be social, fall asleep or avoid uncomfortable or painful feelings. As time goes on, habits can develop without the individual being aware. For example, the individual who might have a glass of wine with dinner is then drinking half a bottle. There may also be the urge to finish the bottle as she drives home from work. What began as a benign way of relaxing has become a ‘need’. She may think of stopping her use, and struggles with this, becoming preoccupied, agitated, and/or anxious. This addiction process can occur in a matter of weeks, months or years.

The addiction, whether it be to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex or food, takes on a life of its own. Eventually, the addiction controls the individual’s life, rather than the individual being in control.

Addictions can develop to Gambling, Shopping, Eating, Sex, and Smoking, as well as to Alcohol and Drugs. These addictions can have various degrees of severity. It is important to assess your use of alcohol, drugs or any behavior that alters your mood.

How to know if you or a loved one might have an addiction:

  • You feel unable to stop using, even though you want to
  • You’ve tried to stop or control use without success
  • You need the substance to relax or have a good time
  • You hide your use or lie about it
  • You feel guilty about using
  • You are preoccupied with thoughts relating to it throughout the day
  • You have hangovers/blackouts
  • You are experiencing behavior changes
  • Friends or family have expressed concern
  • It is interfering with work, finances, school or relationships

Treatment typically includes abstinence of the addicted substance or behavior, and self-help programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA.org), Narcotics Anonymous (NA.org), Gamblers Anonymous (GamblersAnonymous.org), Over-Eaters Anonymous (OA.org), Sex/Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAAFWS.org).

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) is useful in diminishing the impact of painful memories that might have helped create the addiction. It can also be beneficial in preventing relapse. The Feeling State Addiction Protocol* (a modified EMDR protocol) is used to decrease urges prevalent in all addictions.

*FEELING STATE ADDICTION PROTOCOL

The Feeling State Theory of Addictions and Compulsions proposes that addictions are created when a desired feeling and a behavior get fixated together. For example, a social gambler who hits a big win can experience such an intense feeling of being a “winner”, that the behavior and the feeling become fixated together, later becoming a compulsion(addiction). The person’s desire to recreate that feeling continues to drive them into the addiction, even if they are in $100,000 of debt. If that person spent their earlier life being told they were a “loser”, they could be more vulnerable to the extreme connection to feel like a winner.

FSAP breaks the connection between the intensely positive feelings and behavior, just as EMDR breaks the connection with negative traumatic memories. With the modified EMDR protocol used in FSAP, after processing the fixated feelings and associated behavior, the individual no longer has the urge to engage in the compulsion or addiction. Once the fixation is broken, the earlier negative memories can then be processed. The modified EMDR protocol was developed by Dr. Robert Miller (www.fsaprotocol.com) and is currently in scientific trials.

In combination, FSAP & EMDR is a very powerful and comprehensive treatment approach for addictions and compulsions.

For over 15 years, we have successfully treated people struggling with various forms of substance abuse. We help individuals and their families regain control of their lives.