Addiction Counseling Specialties

Alcohol Addiction Counseling
 

Alcohol Addiction: Drowning in Denial

Alcohol use is a coping mechanism used to deal with daily tensions or worries such as loneliness, marital problems, job stress or illness. Many people use alcohol as a substitute for satisfying personal relationships and self-fulfillment or to compensate for guilty feelings, low self-esteem and shyness in social situations.

Denial is the main symptom of alcoholism. And because denial is a defense mechanism used for life situations that are too difficult to cope with, it makes it difficult for the afflicted person to face the disease. People suffering from alcoholism either insist they do not have a problem or blame others. For this reason, people who need help with this illness are often not treated. Alcoholism is our most untreated, and yet treatable disease.

Alcoholism is a disease that affects the whole family. Living with someone with an alcohol problem causes despair and confusion, as well as a life that is unpredictable and unstable. This chaotic atmosphere has far reaching consequences on the entire family unit.

In some cases, teen suicides are linked to alcohol and drug abuse since alcohol contributes to their depressive symptoms. Just like adults with drinking addictions, they use alcohol as a way to handle mental or emotional issues, and often they are mirroring their family environment. Treatment for alcohol abuse for teens can help prevent addictions later in life.

Children who grow up in alcoholic environments continue to be haunted by their dysfunctional past and the effects of alcoholism. Adult children of alcoholics tend to hide their feelings (often because expressing their emotions was discouraged), or live in fear or are in a constant state of being anxious to protect themselves from unpleasant situations. They may even become an alcoholic themselves or may act out in other chaotic ways.

If you’re in a relationship with someone who is addicted to alcohol and you are complying with the unhealthy behavior, you’re probably a codependent. You could be losing touch with your own emotions and taking responsibility for your own life is the gateway to helping yourself to a better way of living.

The first step of recovery is breaking through the biggest obstacle of recovery - denial. Sometimes recovery is forced on the addict by the court systems, employers or family members to quit drinking and get sober. The ultimatum of treatment is frequently the strongest possible motivator for the alcoholic to get help. These actions are what may finally get the addict to ask, “Am I an Alcoholic?” Quitting drinking can then be within reach because the aspect of denial is removed.

If you recognize yourself or a loved one here, a trained professional counselor can help. Reach out to a therapist who is skilled and experienced in helping to solve these types of issues surrounding alcohol dependence.

Compulsive Gambling

is the symptom of an emotional disorder. The emotional disabling factors involved are: low self esteem, immaturity, instability and obsessive behavior patterns To the casual observer the compulsive gambler gives the appearance of being an enormously egotistical person. A closer look at his coping style reveals an entirely different picture. The fact that he needs continually to find ways to feed his undernourished ego belies this idea. In the first stages of his compulsive gambling he may want the largest car and the finest clothing available to him, which is his way of reassuring himself of his self worth.

In his struggle to relate to others he creates the image that he is a philanthropist and an all around "good fellow". He is considered by most to be a very charming, lovable person, a "Good Sam", so to speak. His family may feel that he has concern for everyone except them. The gambler usually sets unreasonable and unrealistic goals for himself, which in his frustration he is never able to reach. He has a tendency to expect much too much from those around him as well as from himself.

When he is faced with his failures in life, he escapes the frustrations of day by day living through fantasy. He seeks relief from his poor self-image by dreaming of a Monte Carlo type existence filled with friends, new cars, mink coats, penthouses and beautiful women. Pathetically, there seems never to be enough big winnings to make even the smallest dream come true; probably, because whatever monies won, are to him, sacred. He must always return to win more. Ultimately, he gambles in reckless desperation and his dream world brings him no relief. He feels emotional conflict and group acceptance only when gambling. His self destruction is a terrifying experience for his family; it may involve their destruction as well. As his illness progresses, gambling, his problem solving device to relieve anxiety, tension and unpleasantness, fails to anesthetize his pain. Thus his obsession to gamble is accelerated. Through all the various stages he must wear his mask of "happy-go-lucky" fellow.

DENIAL IS HIS PRIMARY DEFENSE MECHANISM.

Most compulsive gamblers cannot admit a need for help until their obsessive, compulsive behavior has made their life intolerable. Each must find his own depth of despair. This could be any number of experiences such as: the loss or threatened loss of the person or thing most important to him. It may be loss of freedom, because of impending incarceration, loss of his family or the final realization of his complete loss of self respect. When his crisis presents itself, and he reaches the point where he is willing to admit his loss of control of gambling and the complete chaos of his life, he will be ready to accept help. He will find the help he needs in Gamblers Anonymous.

If he is to abstain from gambling indefinitely it is necessary that he be in regular attendance in this self-help group. There he will find the identification, emotional comfort, group acceptance, and assistance in the arduous task of changing his life coping style.

If any of the above issues concern you, please contact us for help.

 

Drug Addiction Counseling

Drug Addiction and Abuse

Many people use drugs as an escape from their physical and emotional discomfort. Drugs are a means for some to deal with their stress and numb their emotions so that they can block out uncomfortable feelings.  Drugs create or alter feelings by altering brain chemistry. And unfortunately, drugs do physiological damage to the nervous system. Since the brain has no pain receptors, the damage can go undetected until the addict has altered their behavior in unhealthy ways. And because addiction affects the brain and its function, it compels the addict to constantly seek out drugs. Compulsive drug use is typical of drug abuse. And like alcohol addiction, drug addicts live in denial of their addiction. But it is treatable.

Teenage Drug Abuse

Drug addiction among teens is 10 times more prevalent than what parents expect. And sometimes drug use starts even younger. Kids sometimes start to use drugs because they are curious or from peer pressure. And sometimes they start drug use because of emotional problems or they come from a home where drugs are used by a parent or sibling. So it’s important to set a good example by avoiding substance abuse yourself. Don’t use pills or alcohol to cope with your own stress.

Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is on the rise in alarming numbers. And it’s a well-kept secret in many homes across America, from housewives to corporate executives. Many times prescription drug use starts with taking prescription drugs for chronic pain problems or injuries. And then long after the pain is gone, the addiction remains. Or sometimes the root cause of the physical pain is never really addressed and the abuser continues taking the drugs for pain that is never alleviated.

Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a natural stimulant that over stimulates the central nervous system, producing an artificial state of euphoria. Most users begin their cocaine addiction by snorting and go on to injecting or freebasing. Cocaine dependency can occur instantly after freebasing or using crack. Usually the only limiting factor in their cocaine use is the high cost of this pricey drug. Binging on cocaine may lead to agitation, anxiety and paranoia. Cocaine abusers can even experience a state of paranoid psychosis, in which they have a break with reality and experience auditory hallucinations.

Cocaine Treatment

Purging the drug from the body takes only about 2 weeks, but overcoming the psychological urge to use takes 18 – 24 months of intense counseling.

Don’t try to solve this problem alone. If you recognize yourself or a loved one here, a trained professional counselor can help. Reach out to a therapist who is skilled and experienced in helping with drug addiction. 

Eating Disorders Counseling

An eating disorder is a secret that is kept hidden until the problem, like many addictions, is out of control. Eating disorders are hard to recognize because those who are suffering from them are stealth and cover-up experts. Denial is a large part of the problem and just gets stronger as the disorder progresses. Women make up 90-95% of the eating disorder victims. (Although occurrences involving men are on the rise.)

Types of Eating Disorders

There are several types of eating disorders, each with its own unique symptoms. But all have the common ground of extreme disturbances in eating behavior:

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is willful starvation and excessive exercise is often accompanies it. The goal is to be at the perfect thinness state. This is an attempt to have control over a part of their life when they feel not in control.

Bulimia  

Bulimia is characterized by uncontrollable eating (“binge eating disorder”) followed by purging. The means of purging is by vomiting, laxatives or diuretics. They are actually attempting to purge intolerable feelings such as anger, loneliness and depression.

Bulimarexia

Bulimarexia is gorging and vomiting, followed by bouts of voluntary starvation and is sometimes accompanied by obsessive exercise, a combo of anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

Obesity

Obesity is compulsive overeating in an attempt to fill an emotional void. Overeaters use food to tranquilize their feelings, especially anger. Signs of Eating Disorders

Because the eating disorder victim is to good at hiding their addiction, it’s not an easy one to spot. But here are some symptoms to watch out for:

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Poor memory

  • Feeling mentally sluggish

  • Mood swings

  • Irritability

  • Depression

  • Difficulty getting along with others

  • Erratic weight changes

  • Unrealistic body image

  • Hyperactivity Insomnia

 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Therapy

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by persistent, intrusive thoughts as well as obsessive or compulsive behaviors that the afflicted person feels driven to perform over and over in a ritualistic manner. Because OCD is an anxiety disorder, the personz feels compelled to relieve the anxiety by performing these rituals to feel better or so that nothing “bad” happens to them or to someone they know. The rituals may differ, by the anxiety remains the same.

We all remember the children’s game “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.” For people with OCD, this is more than a game. They may really believe that if they step on a crack, something bad will happen to their mother. Or they may be obsessed with counting the cracks. Perhaps this familiar game was invented by a child, since for those who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, it often first develops in childhood.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder usually has a gradual onset, but it can show up suddenly after an emotional or stressful situation. But the stressful situation is not the cause of the OCD. There is usually a predisposition for the disorder.

What is an Obsession?

Obsessions are persistent impulses, ideas, images or thoughts that intrude in a person’s mind. The person having the thoughts feels out of control and this causes more anxiety and distress.

What is a Compulsion?

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or compulsive acts performed in an effort to relieve the anxiety and distress brought on by obsessive thoughts. The anxiety is caused by an inability to cope with stress, such as social anxiety (also known as social phobia). Counting, repeatedly washing hands, repeatedly checking to be sure doors are locked or appliances are unplugged, repeating a silent “mantra,” cleaning the kitchen sink or floor over and over; these acts are usually done to prevent an imaginary dreaded event or disaster from happening or someone from being “harmed.”

Or they may have an unreasonable fear of dirt and germs. A person may count to 100 cracks in the sidewalk to prevent their mother from being injured. Some hoard. Others feel they must align objects in “perfect” order or in an exact way. A sufferer of trichotillomania (the urge to pull out their own hair) may do so to relieve their anxiety.

More extreme OCD sufferers are disturbed by more violent unwanted thoughts of doing harm to others or an embarrassing sexual act.  The person with OCD never actually acts on these uncomfortable thoughts.

Usually the person with OCD keeps it a secret until it gets to the point of being out of control. When these thoughts and behaviors begin to take over a person’s life by interfering with the quality of their daily living, including their marriage and job, it’s time to get professional help.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment

Treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder usually begins with a call to a qualified mental health professional for individual counseling. Talking with a therapist can help you understand if your behavior indicates obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or other anxiety disorder or a symptom of depression. If you recognize yourself or a loved one here, call today and find out how proper treatment can relieve your burden and you can begin living a healthier life.

Sexual Addiction Counseling

What is Sexual Addiction?

Sexual addiction is a problem for a person who has persistent sexual arousal and is obsessive about sex to the point of it interfering with healthy relationships as well as the overall quality of their life. They suffer from compulsive thinking about sex, and for many with this disorder, may act on these thoughts. It can progress from seemingly harmless behaviors such as compulsive masturbation, obsessive use of pornography and sex services over the phone or internet (known as internet porn or “cybersex”).

The internet is becoming an increasingly destructive source of the addicts’ compulsive behavior. What starts out as innocent internet browsing can subtly pull in a person with addictive tendencies. Time spent on the internet visiting porn websites can become more frequent, and eventually become obsessive.

Sexual Addiction is an Increasing Problem

And since in today’s society it’s easy for a person to meet and date strangers and chat anonymously over the internet, these interactions can become effortless opportunities for sexual encounters for the sex addict. This anonymity is especially appealing because emotional detachment is a primary behavior of this desire disorder.

Sexual disorders are an escalating problem in many marriages and relationships, increasing the emotional injury to both partners as well as increasing the chances of sexual disease for the partner who is unaware of the extent of the sex disorder.

And although the excessive sexual encounters can emotionally damage the relationship of the addict with his or her partner, the person with a sex addiction has no emotional bond or feeling of intimacy with the outside or extramarital sex partner.

But true to the risk-taking nature of this disease, it can progress toward more dangerous behaviors such as unprotected sex and one-night stands with strangers or prostitutes (unsafe sex) and extra-marital affairs.

At its most extreme, the disorder can progress to more dangerous acts not only to themselves, but to others. It can manifest itself in voyeurism, molestation, exhibitionism, sexual harassment, stalking and rape - causing tremendous physical and emotional harm.

And as is the nature of addiction, sexual addicts usually deny that they have a problem and blame others for their actions. Sex is the “drug of choice” for this particular addict and it can have a negative effect on their personal and social relationships, finances, health, as well as their work.

Sexual Addiction Treatment

Treatment of sexual addiction focuses on helping the person develop a healthy sexuality with individual counseling, marital counseling, couples counseling or family therapy. Often the sex addict is frustrated and filled with anxiety because they may have tried to control the addiction without success. If you recognize yourself or a loved one here, a trained professional counselor can help. Sexual compulsion is also a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder and it helps to work with a therapist who is trained in all aspects of this addiction.

Montville Counseling Center also participates with Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for counseling for addiction and disorders. An EAP is a benefit offered by some employers to their employees and their family members to help resolve personal issues with professional and confidential counseling services. Check to see if you are covered by your employer with this benefit.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Email: drmacgregor@montvillecounseling.com

Phone: (973) 331-0043

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