Are you avoiding dealing with your addictive habits because you’re not ready to give them up?

Addictions exist on a spectrum of intensity.  On one side is an extreme addict, a person who can’t function without the vice and whose primary focus is on getting and using the vice.  On the other side of the spectrum is a high functioning person who may be happy and successful.  Her life may include meaningful work, a good social network, good health and perhaps a partner.  But she has this one habit that she can’t quite shake off, something she’s been drawn to for years.  Or when she indulges in this vice, she later regrets it and wishes that she had more control over this habit.  But she doesn’t see herself as an addict, in fact, she may have been abstinent from this habit for months or years at a time.

I find addiction treatment to be severely lacking in services aimed at this higher functioning side of the spectrum.  The 12 step, Alcoholics Anonymous model is very useful for people whose lives are constantly disrupted by addiction.  But what about the rest of us, who feel mostly healthy and balanced, but want to be even healthier and less reliant on our addictive habits?

We may or may not be willing to give up this vice completely.  We might still want to enjoy an occasional glass of wine or shopping spree.  But we are tired of craving it on a frequent basis or regretting our actions later.  If you identify with this description, I might be the right therapist for you.

Here are some questions that we might explore together:

  • What do I like about this habit?
  • How is it helping me? What do I get out of it?
  • What do I not like about this habit?
  • How is it hurting me and others?
  • In what ways do I use denial about my habits with myself and others?
  • Why do I find denial preferable to honesty?
  • What am I afraid will happen if I honestly admit my addiction?
  • What is the ideal state that I’m trying to reach through this habit?
  • What is blocking me from reaching that ideal state in my daily life?
  • What can I learn or practice to reach that ideal state on my own?
  • What feelings am I avoiding when I engage in this habit?
  • How do I learn to tolerate these difficult feelings?
  • How will I know when I’m in control of this habit?
  • How often, if ever, will I allow myself to indulge in this habit when it is in my control?
  • Do I have friends and social outlets that support my abstinence?