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People develop addictions to all sorts of things (alcohol, drugs, smoking, food, sex, gambling, shopping) and often these addictions are temporary fixes that result in long-term consequences. Addictions provide comfort and distraction from feelings of shame, guilt, depression, anxiety, frustration, hopelessness, etc. When you recognize the price you pay for short-term relief and how difficult it is to resolve the addiction on your own it's time to get help. You may be struggling with deciding if there even is a problem, feel conflicted about whether you want to change, be ready to take steps to change, or just want to maintain sobriety or an addiction-free life. No matter where you are regarding this issue, there is hope for improvement.

There are many theories of addiction and how to overcome them. One thing we know from clinical research is that different approaches work for different people, and despite what you may have heard, there is no "best" treatment. Some people swear by the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous and similar groups. But many people have not found this approach helpful. I often tell people that to overcome an addiction, you must be willing to face the agony that arises when you stop giving into it. If you are not willing to open to the pain, there is no hope for recovery. Many professionals consider addictions to be attachment disorders (problems in connecting with others in ways that bring comfort). One reason that groups (AA, Rational Recovery, Lifering, and others) exist is that we must eventually accept that we need others if we are to live, even if we had given up hope on people long ago. Therapy can help you bear the pain and fear, and provide the support you need.

Irina Banfi-Mare, Psy.D.
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Jason Seidel, Psy.D.
The Colorado Center
for Clinical Excellence