Addiction can take many forms. Abusing substances such as alcohol, street drugs and prescription medications can cause lasting damage to lives, relationships and health. These substances affect the brain’s pathways of pleasure and reward, and create a pattern of craving and compulsion that drives addiction. It is also possible to become addicted to behaviors.

Behaviors Can Become Addictive

shutterstock_76842184 (3).jpgBehavioral addiction can begin with a single event that stimulates a feeling a person greatly desires. Any behavior can become a part of a behavioral addiction and any feeling can be associated with any behavior. Connections such as these can create addiction to behaviors in the forms of gambling, sex, shopping, eating, exhibitionism, voyeurism and even illegal activities like shoplifting. The addict continues to do the behavior even if it’s clearly harmful or destructive, rationalizing it with thoughts like, “this time I’ll win for sure,” or “they won’t miss that.”

Behavioral addiction can sabotage rational thinking and self-esteem, making it hard to live a normal life. Breaking free of a behavioral addiction requires more than simply stopping the behavior. The key to eliminating the addiction is to eliminate the desire underlying the behavior. Therapy for behavioral addiction aims to help people to “undo” the drive to experience the feelings associated with the behavior.

Breaking Links Between Feelings and Behaviors

Working with a therapist who specializes in addiction allows you to identify the feelings that drive the addiction and better understand the link between those feelings and the behavior.  Once you’re able to break that link, behavior comes under control of the rational mind once again and the compulsion is gone.

Specialized Treatment for Addiction

shutterstock_319248968.jpgDr. Lee Ann Lehman is a family psychologist based in West Palm Beach, Florida who offers substance abuse and behavioral addiction counseling services in addition to trauma therapy and relationship counseling. She offers insight, support and practical tools to help clients address a broad range of substance abuse and behavioral addiction issues.  Dr. Lehman uses a variety of modalities to treat addiction, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), Feeling State Addiction Protocol (FSAP), Image Transformation Therapy (ImTT) and Solution Focused Therapy.