Addiction and Substance Use Therapy in NYC
What is addiction or a substance use disorder?
Addiction, also called substance abuse or use, is a mental health condition which causes you to psychologically and physically need a substance, or activity, despite evidence that it is having harmful effects for you. When you have an addiction, you increasingly make decisions that are not in your best interests in the medium or longer term to acquire more of a substance.
When you have a substance use disorder, you feel and behave differently:
- You have an urge to use the substance regularly, and will spend considerable time and effort to obtain the substance
- Over time, you need to use more of the substance to feel the same pleasant effects
- You may see deterioration in other aspects of your life as a result of prioritizing the substance over other aspects of your life such as relationships or work
- You feel a worsening of your cognition, with impaired decision making and memory
- You may do things you would not normally do or later regret to acquire the substance
What is the difference between addiction and dependence?
Addiction and dependence are similar words, and are used interchangeably. However, there are clear differences between addiction and dependence.
Addiction involves a change in your behavior after prolonged use of an addictive substance. Dependence is defined as ongoing physical or psychological need for a substance.
For example, you may experience physical or psychological dependence to a substance. During this time, you may need to use more of the substance to feel the same effects as you did when you first started. Additionally, you may feel withdrawal symptoms after not using the substance. With prolonged use of a substance, dependence symptoms become more severe.
While not all dependence becomes addiction, dependence has the potential to evolve into addiction. As part of an addiction, you begin to prioritize acquiring and using the substance above all else in your life. For example, you may act irrationally such as stealing money, missing school or work or blowing off friends, in order to assure you achieve a substance. It may end up feeling like you cannot exist or function without the substance. The psychological and physical reliance on the substance overtakes your life, often resulting in increasingly devastating consequences to yourself and those around you.
What causes addiction?
Despite popular belief, addiction is not a character or personality flaw. Decades of research have demonstrated that addictive behaviors have ancient evolutionary roots in our brain.
To increase motivation, ancient humans, as well as other mammals, are pre-programmed to seek out rewards and return for more of that reward. Neuroscientists have shown that several parts of our brains work together in a reward circuit to encourage behaviors that bring us pleasure and satisfaction. This system works around food, sexual activity, social relationships and physical intimacy. However, modern society has developed artificial compounds that hijack this reward system, such as high potency opioid drugs as well as street drugs.
Further, some brain’s reward systems are more predisposed towards malfunctioning. This allows for an opportunity for highly addicted modern drugs of abuse to connect to the brain’s reward system and take over much of a person’s functioning—shifting it to acquiring more and more of a substance. Addiction can also be driven by increase in life stressors or active symptoms of other mental health conditions including depression or anxiety, as we may increase our use of substances to manage and alleviate our symptoms.
An addiction is caused by cycles of substance use that only gets worse over time. We use addictive substances, such as alcohol or other drugs, because they make us feel good. Maybe we use them to boost our mood, or to relieve pain, or to relax. However, prolonged use of these substances causes changes in your brain. A greater quantity of the substance is needed to feel the same effects as the substance once felt. Additionally, you will experience cravings, otherwise known as withdrawals, when you are not using the substance. This is when you develop a dependence to the substance.
Once you are dependent on a substance, you may find yourself using the substance simply to satisfy the cravings, and not for any of the reasons you first started using the substance. For example, if you started off using alcohol to talk to others more easily at social gatherings, you may be using alcohol now only because it hurts too much not to use it. Ultimately, you might find yourself unable to carry out your daily professional activities or personal responsibilities, because you are spending time alone drinking, or obtaining alcohol to drink. At this point, you may have an addiction. With increasing cycles of excessive alcohol use, your addiction may only get worse.
How do you break or treat an addiction?
Breaking from an addiction is not easy. The main reason you are addicted to a substance is because you have withdrawal symptoms that are too difficult to just ignore. Treatment with medications can help make cravings less severe and help readjust your brain chemicals.
However, breaking an addiction may also require further therapy, in order to obtain a full and long-lasting recovery. Therapy, such as motivational therapy, will help you identify the issues that underlie your addiction, which may be the reasons which prompted your use of the substance in the first place. By modifying old habits and developing new skills, you will be able to prevent relapses.
Work with an NYC addiction therapist at Integrative Psych
Integrative Psych is an NYC-based private practice specializing in the treatment of addictions and related conditions. Many of our clients are based in Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey, Manhattan (Chelsea, Village, Lower East Side, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Tribeca, SoHo), Connecticut, Westchester but our addiction therapists are licensed to treat anyone in the state of New York.
Integrative Psych takes a compassionate, comprehensive and holistic approach to addiction diagnosis and treatment. We will carefully explore your present life and early life, evaluating all factors that could be contributing to your addiction.
When making recommendations, treatment may involve tailored medication and likely include a blend of therapy including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), depending on what works best for you.
Decisions about what treatment or treatments to pursue are made as a team, between you and your addiction therapist. Once you have begun care with us, we will see you regularly to monitor your progress and make any adjustments necessary to ensure that you benefit fully from your treatment at Integrative Psych.
Obtain addiction therapy in NYC today so you can:
- Develop healthier coping strategies when life inevitably throws stressful challenges your way
- Repair important relationships that may have suffered due to your addiction
- Take yourself out of the vicious cycle of addiction with the support of an understanding and non-judgmental professional
If you’re seeking treatment and interested in working with one of our addiction therapists, book an appointment here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which treatment is most effective in treating addiction?
Treating an addiction will likely first involve using medications that can help make cravings less severe and help readjust your brain chemicals. In the longer term, therapy, such as motivational therapy, will help you identify the issues that underlie your addiction. These are the reasons which prompted your use of the substance in the first place. By modifying old habits and developing new skills, you will be able to prevent relapses.
Does relapse mean treatment has failed?
No, relapse is a normal occurrence. While it can be common to relapse after an attempt to stop using a substance, the goal of treatment is to prevent relapse. Relapse is likely when people stray away from their treatment plan.
Can addiction be cured?
Treating a substance addiction is usually not curative, similar to other chronic diseases such as asthma or heart disease. However, addiction can be managed successfully. By treating your addiction, you can recover the addiction pathways in your brain and regain control of your life.
Is it possible to become addicted to cannabis/marijuana?
Yes, although it may be less addictive than many other substances, you can develop an addiction to cannabis/marijuana after heavy use. Like with many other addictive substances, withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and cravings may be present after stopping cannabis use. Additionally, marijuana addiction is a diagnosable medical condition.