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Integrating the Science of Addiction Medicine with the Art of Addiction Psychotherapy

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AddictionAddiction is a self-destructive behavior that a person cannot or will not stop despite its adverse consequences. Substance addictions are not always easy to spot, as any individual substance abuser falls onto a spectrum, with mild abuse on one end and full-blown addiction on the other. However, something can usually be considered an addiction once a person has become physically and psychologically dependent on a substance and unable to control their usage.

When Is It an Addiction?

Because the majority of addicts go on binges, alternating periods of daily use with periods of controlled use, they’re often able to trick themselves and others into believing they don’t have a problem. “I don’t drink every day, so how can I be addicted?” Or “I only use coke on weekends. If I was addicted, I’d be doing it all the time.” There are a few signs that can help pinpoint addictive behavior.

Signs of Addiction

  • Obsession. Addictive behavior is usually quite compelling and consuming. If you’re addicted to something, you often can’t stop thinking about it and planning for you next “fix.” When you’re close to engaging in the activity, you may get a feeling of anxiety and excitement, and if your use is blocked, you’ll probably become frustrated or perhaps panicky. In general, your obsession consumes a good deal of your time, energy and attention.
  • Negative Consequences. An addiction works against you. It’s often enjoyable at first. You believe that you’re benefiting from the addiction, just as you do with a habit, but sooner or later, your behavior starts having negative consequences in your life. Addictive behaviors produce pleasure, relief and other payoffs in the short term but pain, grief and more problems in the long run.
  • A Lack of Control. Despite destructive consequences, if you’re addicted, you’re often powerless regarding the behavior. No matter how many promises you make to yourself or others, the substance has control over you.
  • Denial. As an addict’s problems begin to pile up, they inevitably begin to deny two things: that they can’t control their substance usage, and that the negative consequences in their lives have any connection to the substance abuse.


Much like the disorder itself, the methods of treating addiction are complex and varied. Individually-tailored techniques may be the most effective since they target you specifically.

An individualized treatment plan may include the following:

  • Detoxification (Outpatient and In-Home)
  • Group or individual therapy
  • Treating any co-occurring disorders through psychiatry and/or psychotherapy
  • Addiction recovery and relapse prevention groups
  • Suboxone (buprenorphine) treatment for opioid dependence
  • Family and couples counseling
  • Medication to reduce alcohol and other drug cravings and prevent relapse
  • Moderation training and education for non-alcoholic problem drinkers | 425 Madison Avenue (49th St), Suite 1502, New York, NY 10017 | Phone: (212) 969-1899