Addictions & Recovery

We generally break down “Addictions” into two types: “substance addictions” and “process addictions.”  I talk here about the substance addictions. On other pages of my site I talk about process addictions.

Substance addictions, when severe, may require medically supervised withdrawal.  Some examples are:

  • legal and illegal drugs
  • alcohol
  • eating
  • cigarettes

Process addictions include things like:

  • compulsive shopping
  • unsatisfying, repetitive sexual behaviors
  • repeatedly “falling in love for love”

Drugs and addictive behaviors are prevalent and seductive.

In the 1980s and early 90’s I taught in the undergraduate and graduate psychology programs at National University. Among my duties in the Chemical Dependency Program was to provide clinical supervision to graduate students who were learning to be therapists.

Many of my students were in recovery themselves. I discovered that students held strong beliefs about the kind of treatments available, and those in recovery were the ones most likely to hold most strongly to their beliefs. Each would swear that the best approach for their clients was the particular approach that had helped him or her. The experience taught me how important it is to make an individual assessment of each client, and select the treatment approach based on their beliefs, character, weaknesses, and strengths.

There are two main approaches to the treatment of substance addictions which are currently favored: 12-Step work and cognitive behavioral approaches. I have included a page here that compares them.