Addictions

therapy for addictions san francisco

An addiction is when a person has a strong recurring desire to perform an activity (compulsion) despite negative consequences to an individual’s health, finances, morale, mental state, or relationships.

Addiction has the same processes as many diseases, so most professionals now consider most addictions a disease. Addictions are always progressive, meaning they continue to get progressively worse over time. Although addictions cannot be cured, they can be kept in remission with help from professionals and / or 12-step programs.

Addictions are diseases of isolation–the more the addict relies on the substance or behavior to cope with life, the more disengaged that person becomes with his or her partner, family, and community. This leads then to further isolation, and more reliance on the substance or behavior.

Although theoretically one could be addicted to anything, there are several types of addiction that can be extremely harmful and life threatening, and need to be treated. These include alcohol addiction, drug addiction, gambling addiction, food addiction, and sex addiction.

Most of us have a hard time figuring out when we have crossed that invisible line into addiction. For example, if you get drunk only on weekends, and have bad hangovers, are you an alcoholic or just a social drinker? The best way to find out is to stop for a period of time, like six months. If you can’t stop, it is very likely that you have crossed that line and you should seek out help.

Overcoming addiction to chemicals or alcohol requires medical supervision. For example, you should never just stop taking a prescribed medication without help from your physician, because it can lead to life-threatening conditions. Talk to your physician if you think you have a problem.

Therapy can help educate you about addiction, increase your coping skills, identify unhealthy patterns that can lead to relapse, and give you emotional support. Although prevailing over an addiction is incredibly difficult, and is a lifelong process, the rewards are immense.

Michael can also help you if you have a family member or partner who is caught up in an addiction. An addicted person’s primarily relationship is always with the substance or behavior that they are addicted–making the partner of an addict feel frustrated with the lack of true intimacy.

Addicts end up being manipulative so they can keep feeding their addiction, and it is very easy to be enabling them continue into addiction without realizing it. Therapy can help you set boundaries with your addict and learn how to cope with a difficult situation.

When someone is an addict, they usually don’t see the addiction as the cause of their problem, because the defense mechanism of denial is at work. The addict cannot see that the real problem is the drug or behavioral addiction.

If you think you might have a problem,

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Here are some online questionnaires you can check to evaluate whether you might have a problem:

Alcohol (from Alcoholics Anonymous)
Click here for AA questionnaire

Narcotics (from Narcotics Anonymous)
Click here for NA questionnaire

Crystal Meth (from Crystal Meth Anonymous)
Click here for CMA questionnaire

Gambling (from Gamblers Anonymous)
Click here for GA questionnaire

Michael Halyard, LPCC, LMFT

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor & Marriage and Family Therapist

Psychotherapy & Referrals

533-A Castro Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

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(415) 642-4662
mike@sftherapy.com