Transfer of Addictive Behaviors
Addicts in recovery are usually unaware that in recovery lies the risk of transferring one addictive behavior for another, and may not be aware of this pattern. Addicts may become compulsively involved in other activities, even non-harmful ones, such as work or exercise. But this behavior does not allow one to exercise free choice. It may not be drug or other self-destructive behavior, but it is compulsive behavior nevertheless and therefore not within the individual’s control. The replacement of one’s original addiction with another compulsive behavioral pattern will not lead to true sobriety in the long run.
When treating addictive personalities, the primary or presenting addiction needs to be treated first. Only once the behavior is under control can the patient truly begin to do any of the therapeutic work necessary for recovery.
Common forms of treatment for addictive personalities include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT focuses on examining the relationships between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. By exploring patterns of thinking that lead to self-destructive actions and the beliefs that direct these thoughts, patients can modify their patterns of thinking to improve coping. It is different from traditional psychotherapy in that the therapist and the patient will actively work together to help the patient recover. CBT is problem-focused, and goal-directed. Because CBT is an active intervention, one can also expect to do homework or practice outside of sessions, including monitoring and keeping a journal to note negative thoughts as they occur. This allows the patient and their therapist to search for patterns in their thinking that can cause them to have negative thoughts which can lead to negative feelings and self-destructive behaviors.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a process of psychotherapy that seeks to accelerate healing of a wide range of emotional wounds and self-esteem issues related both to past traumatic events and present life addictions. This interactive approach is often used with people who are suffering from a wide range of presenting complaints, including PTSD and addiction. A typical session will be: The therapist will move his or her fingers back and forth in front of the patient’s face and ask him/her to follow these hand motions with his/her eyes. At the same time, the therapist will have them recall a disturbing event. This will include the emotions and body sensations that go along with it.
Gradually, the therapist will guide him/her to shift their thoughts to more pleasant ones. Some therapists use alternatives to finger movements, such as hand or toe-tapping or musical tones.
People who use the technique and patients who receive this modality believe it weakens the effect of negative emotions. Before and after each treatment, the therapist will ask the patient to rate their level of distress. The goal is that disturbing memories will become less disabling.
Motivational interviewing (MI)
MI is a goal-oriented, client-centered counseling style for behavior change by helping clients to explore and resolve ambivalence. The examination and resolution of ambivalence is a central purpose, and the counselor is intentionally directive in pursuing this goal.
Motivational interviewing is non-judgmental, non-confrontational and non-adversarial. The approach attempts to increase the patient’s awareness of the potential problems caused, consequences experienced, and risks faced as a result of the behavior/addiction in question. The strategy seeks to help patients think differently about their behavior and to consider what might be gained through change. Motivational interviewing focuses on the present and works with the patient to access motivation to change a particular behavior that is not consistent with their personal value or goal. Warmth, genuine empathy, and acceptance are necessary to foster therapeutic gain within motivational interviewing.
Hawaii Island Recovery also incorporates individual psychotherapy and animal-assisted therapy to address every aspect of recovery and ensure a successful outcome.