Many people seek psychotherapy because of problems with addiction. Sometimes, people are consciously aware of their addictions and sometimes although a person maybe somewhat aware of the addiction, specifics about both how it is relied upon and the toll it takes are revealed during the psychotherapy.
Addictions may manifest themselves in more obvious forms that involve substances like alcohol or drugs or they may play themselves out with everyday aspects of life: sex, love and relationships, food (overeating, under eating, binging and purging), with money (gambling, debting, and under earning). Of course, we all have relationships to these things but an addictive relationship implies a very specific type of relationship. It is one that frequently becomes the primary relationship in one’s life, the source of obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. A sense of order or well-being maybe associated with being in this relationship. Conversely, chaos and overwhelming anxiety and/or depression maybe associated with giving it up. That’s why expressions like, “hanging by a thread,” “dancing as fast as you can,” and “about to crash” are associated with addictions. One thing that cuts across all addictions is a sense of isolation. The paradox about this isolation is that it is dreaded, yet at the same time, sought out.
The reasons people become addicted are many and varied. Sometimes there is a biological or genetic basis and sometimes not. Sometimes people just seem to “fall into it.” Reasons will be explored in psychotherapy. One way or another people who are addicted learn to function (however poorly) with the addiction and are often afraid to give it up. Psychotherapy can help you learn to feel safer imagining ways of life that don’t include the addiction. The therapy can get to the root of the problem rather than apply quick fixes that usually lead to relapses. The nature of the psychotherapy that I do interrupts the isolation which can feel agitating at first, but ultimately relieving, allowing for choices that do not include the addiction. Addictions are powerful and want to tenaciously hold on. Sometimes assistance from more structured programs is necessary. I have worked in conjunction with twelve-step and other programs when necessary. Another expression associated with addictions and trying to break them is, “The first step is always the hardest.”