Addictive, Compulsive and Co-dependent

add_compulsive_fpoOur Center Provides A Caring And Supportive Out Patient Environment For Treating Addictive And Compulsive Disorders.

We provide the following services for individuals who are experiencing problems with any type of addictive behavior:

~ Assessment
~ Intervention
~ Treatment
~ Referral

The Evelyn Frye Center services for outpatient treatment of addictive and compulsive disorders include but are not limited to:

  • Alcohol and Drugs
  • Romance Addiction
  • Compulsive Computer Interaction
  • Pornography
  • Gambling Addiction
  • Eating Disorders
  • Relationship Addiction
  • Work Addiction
  • Compulsive Hoarding
  • Compulsive Spending
  • Sex Addiction
  • Smoking Addiction

The information below is to clarify the Evelyn Frye Centers perception of and treatment philosophy regarding compulsive behaviors and the addictive process. You may also want to refer to the following websites for additional information.

The Addictive Process And Addictive Behaviors

An individual can become addicted, dependent, or compulsively obsessed with any activity, substance, object, or behavior that numbs or gives pleasure. There is similarity between physical addiction to various chemicals, such as alcohol and cocaine, and the psychological dependence which is experienced with compulsive gambling, sex, work, computer interactions, or eating disorders. These behaviors may produce beta-endorphins in the brain, which numb pain or create a sense of well-being. When a person continues to engage in the activity to achieve these feeling states, they increase the risk of creating a compulsive cycle in which they become physically addicted to their own brain chemicals. As the cycle continues, the person becomes more entrenched in the behavior(s) in spite of negative health and/or social consequences.

Most physical addictions to substances such as alcohol, cocaine, or barbiturates also have a psychological component. All compulsive and addictive disorders share a number of commonalities that make them similar to each other.

Common Characteristics Of Addictive And Compulsive Behaviors

  • Become obsessed with the object, activity, or substance.
  • Seek it out, often to the detriment of work or interpersonal relationships.
  • Compulsively engage in the activity, even when that is not what they want to do.
  • Often experience irritability, craving, and restlessness when they withdraw from the activity.
  • Experience an increasing loss of control as to when, how long, or how much they continue the behavior.
  • Often deny problems resulting from their behavior, even though others can see the negative effects.
  • Usually have low self-esteem and feel anxious if they do not have control over their environment.

Eating Disorders

There are several types of disordered eating. Some individuals overeat to the point of obesity, others consume large amounts of food and then vomit or use laxatives, and others starve themselves to be thin. All of these are considered to be addictive behaviors which have no clear etiology. We provide services for the following:

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia
  • Compulsive Eating

Gambling Addiction

During the 1970s, America began to view pathological or compulsive gambling as an addictive behavior. The compulsive gambler loses control over their gambling behavior, escalates the behavior, denies the problem, is depressed, and has low self-esteem. As with all addictions, gambling is a progressive illness. As the disease worsens, the gambler will attempt to conceal their losses and begin to lie about their gambling, alienating family and friends.

Other Addictive Behaviors

There are a variety of other activities or behaviors upon which some individuals become psychologically dependent. Some of these activities may not be as life threatening as chemical addictions or eating disorders, but they can have profound negative effects on the individual, their family and society. In general, any behavior that is compulsively repeated by a person to the extent that it causes physical, social, or psychological problems for that individual is addictive behavior.

Computer Interaction Addiction

When deprived of the computer, compulsive computer interactors go through withdrawal symptoms of irritability and anxiety. Computer interaction addiction is a growing concern and is believed to be relatively widespread. For the computer addict, the primary lure of the computer is the complete control they can have over it. It does what it is told and is always predictable in its behavior or action. The person can create a world of their own, with its own set of rules and behaviors. Likewise, the machine will never exert peer pressure or express anger or insults or talk back. This type of control is comforting to young adults who are confused about their sex roles, parental expectations, career choices, and the development of intimacy with another person. Compulsive computer interactors tend to have the low self-image, poor interpersonal skills and personal insecurity which also characterizes individuals who experience other types of addictions.

Hoarding Or Pathological Collecting

Recent media coverage has raised public awareness about and research interest in what was formerly a hidden disorder. The prevalence of compulsive hoarding in the community is unknown; however, it is estimated to range between 2 and 5 percent of the adult population. Our Center provides assessment, evidence–based treatment, intervention and referral services for persons who suffer from a compulsive hoarding disorder.

Spending Addiction

A shopping or spending addiction is present when one shops or spends in an effort to feel better. The shopping provides a rush or serves as a pick me up for the shopper in the same way that a drug impacts an addict. Compulsive shoppers are often in denial of and are defensive about their spending problem. They begin to hide their purchases or make efforts to conceal the amount of money they have spent and they feel worse after their spending binge. There are cases in which the spending addict has an emotional “blackout” in which they do not remember making the purchases. Some spending addicts experience binges all year long, compulsively purchasing certain items, such as shoes, kitchen items, or clothing; some will buy anything. Those who are not compulsive throughout the year may be triggered to binge by the various stresses of the December holiday season. Binges also occur in response to feeling hurt, stressed, lonely, low self-esteem or angry feelings.

We recommended that spending addicts seek professional counseling or a self-help group to deal with this problem. Addictive behaviors tend to come in clusters, so if you have an eating disorder, a problem with drugs or alcohol, or gambling, you may be a candidate for shopping addiction. If you feel out of control, you probably are. When you are ready, we can help. Contact us for an evaluation and treatment services for your chronic or episodic problems with compulsive shopping and/or spending. Also consider identifying a support group such as Debtors Anonymous and a credit counseling program to help with your shopping addiction.

Work Addiction

Our society benefits from the hard work and positive contributions of dedicated individuals. However, when “work” becomes an obsession to the exclusion of family, friends and other interests, the person may be a workaholic or work addict. Complete devotion to work, to the exclusion of close relationships, often leads to family problems and divorce. It can also lead to loneliness.

Love And Relationship Addiction

When one becomes so obsessed with another person that they focus their attention and energy on the “love object” to the exclusion of friends, family, and other life commitments, they are exhibiting a love or relationship addiction. Even when they understand their obsession is damaging the quality of their life, they become anxious when they consider terminating the relationship. If the relationship is finally terminated, by either party, they experience withdrawal symptoms such as sleep and eating problems, shakiness, confusion, crying, and feelings of failure, depression, and hopelessness.

There are two basic forms of love or relationship addiction. In the First Type, the relationship is one sided, with the object of the person’s love not even interested in, or aware of, the obsessed person’s infatuation. The love is based upon imagination or fantasy and not upon a relationship. These one-sided addictions often result from an “attachment hunger”. The Second Type occurs when two people are addicted to each other.

Sex Addiction

Sexual addiction is a process addiction as opposed to substance addictions such as drugs and alcohol. It is similar to gambling, binge eating or compulsive spending. As such, sex addicts typically spend a much greater amount of time engaged in the pursuit of sex and romance (the process) than in the sexual act itself. They are addicted to the neurochemical and dissociative high produced by their intense sexual fantasy and ritualistic behaviors; this is their addiction. As with other addictions, sex addicts are generally in denial of their addiction. The successful treatment of any addiction requires that the person acknowledge that they have a problem. Often it is a major financial, health, social, or emotional crisis such as a job loss, threat of divorce, a health or legal problem that forces the sex addict to seek help.

Our Center provides assessment and treatment services for persons suffering with a sexual addiction. Treatment includes education about healthy sexuality, individual counseling, and marital and/or family therapy. Participation in support groups and 12 step recovery programs such as Sex Addicts Anonymous is encouraged. In some cases, antidepressant medications used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder may be used to curb the compulsive nature of the sex addiction.