Addictive behavior not only encompasses substance abuse, but can also take the form of behaviors like sex, eating, or even shopping. Active addiction can cause serious harm to relationships, finances, and careers, as well as raising the risk of legal and health problems. Some forms of addiction, like substance abuse, can also be extremely physically dangerous. Besides disrupting normal life events, addictive behavior can also lead to secondary symptoms like hopelessness, depression, and anxiety. If addictive behavior is not directly confronted and dealt with, it almost always gets worse over time.
How Can Therapy Help?
Many addicts have underlying trauma or mood disorders. This can cause what is known as “self-medication”, or using a substance or behavior in an attempt to numb negative feelings. Addicts who enter therapy may receive what’s called a Dual Diagnosis, which is simply the identification of an underlying mood disorder that may be causing or worsening the addictive behavior. For example, a common dual diagnosis is alcoholism and depression. After any underlying problems have been identified, the therapist will work with the addict to understand and cope with associated negative feelings and patterns of thought. Techniques like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can also help people overcome their addictions by offering support as well as coping skills for cravings.