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Discussion1: Overcoming Chemical and Behavioral Addictions

Most individuals in the throes of addiction are in emotional pain. Recovery is not easy and requires a great amount of personal effort and internal motivation. Individuals working toward recovery encounter a seemingly insurmountable number of personal challenges blocking their decision to change, including denial.

Once individuals overcome their denial, there will be many more challenges blocking their path to recovery. It is important that the helping professional is prepared to help them identify and address each new challenge.

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For this Discussion, review the media program

(transcript attached)

in this week’s Resources and identify which clients struggle with chemical addiction and which clients struggle with behavioral addiction. Select one client with chemical addiction and one with behavioral addiction and reflect on the challenges these individuals face in overcoming their chemical and behavioral addictions.



a brief description of the two clients whom you selected and whether each has a chemical (physical) or behavioral (psychological) addiction.


Then, explain one potential challenge for each client in overcoming his or her addiction.


Support your response using the Resources and the current literature.

References (use 3 or more)

Laureate Education (Producer). (2012a). Behavioral and chemical addiction [Video file].

Doweiko, H. E. (2015). Concepts of chemical dependency (9th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage.

Garcia, F. D., & Thibaut, F. (2010). Sexual addictions. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 36(5), 254–260.

Grant, J. E., Potenza, M. N., Weinstein, A., & Gorelick, D. A. (2010). Introduction to behavioral addictions. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 36(5), 233–241.

Hoffmann, B. (2011). Pathological gambling: An example of non-substance related addiction. Trakia Journal of Sciences, 9(4), 69–74.

Behavioral and Chemical Addiction Be havioral and Chemical Addiction Program Transcript DAVID COOK: I’m David Cook, and I’ve been in the mental health field for over 25 years. And many of these years have been spent as a substance abuse counselor and working with people with behavioral and chemical addiction s. People can become addicted to chemicals as well as behaviors. Any chemical that has the ability to alter the mood or any behavior that has the abil ity to alter the mood or is sensationalistic is potentially addictive. Although chemical and behavioral addiction share many of the same signs and symptoms, there are also distinct differences between the two. Two simil arities between chemical and behavioral addictions are that they both involve th e compulsive repetition, in spite of negative consequences. And they both progressively worsen unless treated. An important difference between the two, and a distinction that should a lways be realized, is that behavioral addictions are often hidden addictions. The re are no urinalysises or drug screenings for compulsive gambling. Or you can’t sm ell pornography on someone’s breath. So consequently, because behavioral addictions are often hidden, the signs and symptoms continue along their destructive pathways undetected much longer than chemical addictions. When working with people with chemical and behavioral addictions, the addictions counselor will find that addicts have many barriers along the ir road to recovery. NICOLE: My name is Nicole. I’m 38 years old, and May 30 I will have five years in recovery. RICKY: My name is Ricky. I’m 52 years old. I’ve been in recovery for 10 years. GRETCHEN: My name is Gretchen. I’m 44, and I’ve been in recovery for abo ut three years. JASON: My name is Jason. I’m 32, and I’ve been in recovery for five mont hs. ODESSA: My name is Odessa. I am 47 years old, and I have been in recover y for six years. SHANE: My name is Shane. I am 39 years old, and I have 11 years clean. NICOLE: My addiction began when I was a child, always feeling different from everybody else. I was ADHD, always bouncing off the walls. And that’s w hen I first got my first experience with pills. And I remember that chemical f eeling of feeling relaxed, and I liked it. And throughout my adolescence, I experi mented ©2014 Laureate Education, Inc. 1 Be havioral and Chemical Addiction with marijuana, pills, alcohol, whatever– just whatever I could get my hands on, really. I had a schedule where I would drink at noon, and then I would drink at 2:00. I had this whole schedule. It was really silly when I look back on it now. But it’s funny how you have this whole mindset, and you can trick yourself. And y our thinking and addiction is absolutely crazy. And how you just convince yourself and can hide it from your family. And you go to different liquor stores so they don’t know, and your friends don’t kn ow and don’t tell your family and stuff like that. To go to great lengths t o hide it. RICKY: Coming from a farm and everything with nothing to do, and basical ly I wanted to be in the in crowd. And the way you could get into the in crow d, you had to be cool. You had to do things. You had to basically do drugs. I came to enjoy the alcohol. Because my father, he really was an alcohol ic. My daddy, when I finished high school, he passed away. So that left me, the oldest son, on the farm. So I had to drop everything. I had to become a man, re ally a man. Literally, a man at 18. So there was a lot of pressure. There was a lot of disappointments. And the only way I could cover that up was by drinking and abusing drugs more and mor e. ‘Cause I thought that was it. There’s no way out of this little two-people town with nothing but basically alcoholics. And this was where I was going to end up at, and this where I was going to die at. GRETCHEN: My addictions are prescription pain pills and alcohol. And I s tarted on Ritalin when I was in third grade. My whole childhood was based in ch aos, because I’m a survivor of childhood sexual trauma. And my parents were add icts, and my parents always used around me. Their friends always used around m e. I grew up thinking that was normal. I grew up thinking chaos was normal and negative-type behaviors. And so as I grew into an adult, that’s all I knew. My mother’s had breast cancer, and my mother has other health issues. An d she’s addicted to her pain pills, to the point that she’s lost time. And I kind of lost time with her. I lost 2 and 1/2 months. But she talked to me about it. And she would sit there, and she would ta ke her pain pills like candy. I would try and reach out to her for help. And sh e would just say, go get a bottle, or go get me a beer, or go get this. And she would take those pain pills with that alcohol. ©2014 Laureate Education, Inc. 2 Behavioral and Chemical Addiction And I would sit there. I wanted her to be there for me just once. And I would sit there, and I would do it with her. But when you sit there, and you watch your mother do that and not help you and not support you and not listen to yo u. And the whole time I was there, I was telling her I needed to get help. I needed help. I need counseling. I needed treatment. I needed something. And I mean, she would just nod in and out. This went on for 2 and 1/2 mo nths. She still there doing it. I’m not. In the worst stage of my addiction, I just kind of went off the deep end with it all. I just realized that I couldn’t handle it anymore, and I didn’t know how t o fix it. So I just self-medicated and drank and drank and drank and took pills and dra nk. And some things happened that just caused me to realize that I was going to die if I didn’t reach for help. JASON: I was hooked when I was 14. I snuck into a casino with a fake ID at 14 and won $1,000 playing blackjack. And then, it was like my whole life we nt this way. It was like, all right, college, that all can wait. ‘Cause there’s no way I can make this much money. So it was just off to the races from then. I can remember one time, I cashed out my 401(k), took out like $30,000 , went straight to the casino. Doubled that, and didn’t leave, and then lost $4 0,000. So I think I got the same feeling losing or winning, as long as I was gamblin g. It didn’t matter. It’s the same. It’s the rush. I’d lost my job, because obviously I wasn’t showing up for work. I would go to the casino. And of course, they’d give me a room for a week or two weeks, wh atever I wanted. And I would stay there, literally. And I just wouldn’t go to work. And of course, no employer’s going to pu t up with that. And I stayed there and gambled and gambled and gambled. And I had pretty much just lost everything. And I knew it was time to do somet hing. ODESSA: Addiction started for me at an early age, probably around 8 year s old, 9 years old. My grandparents made homemade wine, and I would taste it. S o that’s where I think it actually started for me. It started with alcohol , marijuana, and cocaine, and then later, crack cocaine. For most of my 20s and 30s, I was an active addict. I could stop for man y years and then start back. But every time I would start back, the addiction wo uld get worse and worse. Once I got to a point in my life where things were falling totally apart — foreclosure on homes, repo of vehicles, family dynamic totally destroyed, living on the streets, prostituting, doing whatever I had to do to get drugs– that’s when I ©2014 Laureate Education, Inc. 3 Behavioral and Chemical Addiction realized I needed help. I needed to go somewhere and get away. Yes, that’s when I realized. SHANE: I started using at about the age of 12. I started using marijuana first. My life kind of twisted and turned. I used a variety of substance through h igh school. But I found my drug of choice right out of high school, which was methamphetamine. When I found my drug of choice, nothing else really mattered to me. It w as just the getting and using and finding ways and means to get more. So through that period of life, I got married a couple times. But one thing was clear is I stayed married to methamphetamine. I didn’t have the ability to get away from i t. It became a normal part of life for me. And I called myself being a functioning addict, because I had the abilit y to go to work. I had the ability to be an energetic father. And all these lies I kept telling myself, because I was able to function in everyday society. It had becom e such a part of my life that I couldn’t live without it. So that addiction cost me two marriages. It almost cost me my family. An d it pretty much destroyed my relationship with my kids. I guess some of the first events that happened to me that allowed me to begin to open my eyes, first of all, was a suicide attempt. I had a pistol in the truck, and I couldn’t pull the trigger. I had it to the roof of my mouth. And I had t hat blink of something’s wrong, and I need help. I can’t do this on my own. And I wan t to die. I just couldn’t do it. The second glimmer was I had gotten arrested. And I can remember laying there in that jail cell and looking up at that ceiling, being on suicide watch in a paper suit, not really thinking the substance was a problem, but thinking that something was a problem. I am not meant to be in this cell. Something’s wrong, and I need to get some help. DAVID COOK: Recovery never comes quickly and easily. It requires a great deal of willingness to take responsibility for one’s own addiction and to do anything necessary to stop. The addictions counselor should pay particular attent ion to the similarities and the differences between chemical and behavioral addictions, as well as the signs and symptoms of these addictions and the consequences of these addictions. They should also pay particular attention to the hurdl es that these individuals face in their addictions and how they overcame these hurdles or how they continue to overcome these hurdles. NICOLE: And so, I got through the afternoon by the grace of my higher po wer somehow. And I was throwing up. I was so sick. And I was like, no, I’m n ot gonna ©2014 Laureate Education, Inc. 4 Be havioral and Chemical Addiction go. Yes, I’m gonna go. No, I’m not gonna go. And finally, I went. And I will never forget that day. And I walked in, and it was full of people. And I was so scared. When th ey did the readings at the meeting, I was like, it just got chills. And I knew I wa s home. And I’ve been in Narcotics Anonymous ever since. Someone described it best– and I’ll never forget it, in one of the early meetings I went to– is to make a cake, you have to have all the ingredients. And if you leave out one of those ingredients, the cake’s not going to turn out. So to prevent relapse, you have to have all the ingredients, which is have a sponsor, go to meetings, and work the steps with your sponsor. An addiction counselor helped me and pushed me to go back to school and back to college. I had never finished and graduated with a degree. And I went back for social work, and I ended up graduating with honors. RICKY: I had to realize that this might be my last chance. And when I re alized that, I began to come open mind to suggestions. Because I wasn’t living. I was trying to survive. I wasn’t living. I had to come out of that denial. And start to– like I said, I’m just now growing up. In recovery 10 years, I’m just now growing up. I think the biggest part was denial. That was the first process, coming out of denial. I’m an alcohol and drug counselor, a recovering addict. Man, it feels go od to know that you’re helping others in the same predicament that you were on ce in. As long as I help that one person– all them peoples I dealt with that day, and I know I got that one person. I got one somebody that day, that does a lot for me. GRETCHEN: I would not suggest to anybody to do it the way I did it. I wo uld suggest someone maybe in my position to get medical detox, which I didn’ t do. It could have killed me. And I wouldn’t suggest the way that I did it to anybody. But I detoxed at home. I was very violently ill. And I just kept telling myself, God doesn’t want me to forget what this feels like. He doesn’t want me to fo rget this time. I went to NA and AA meetings twice a week too. And the people at my church and the people in my meetings, they helped me. They helped me through it . They helped to me understand that I was going to be all right and that even t hough it didn’t seem like that there was gonna be a better day, there was. And I just reached out to every resource I could find to get information on why I might be doing the things I was doing or feeling the way I was feeling a nd what to do about it. And I’m still doing that. And I’m not gonna stop. ©2014 Laureate Education, Inc. 5 Behavioral and Chemical Addiction JASON: The first 30 days, 35 days or so, it was like extensive group the rapy every morning of the week, where you get in groups with a bunch of peopl e, maybe 10, 15 people, with my addiction. We’d talk about it, talk about w hat we’re going through and what’s on our minds. Just whatever. Just be open. And then you have these classes that you deal with about the addiction. And then, of course, the meetings at night, 12-step meetings. And then a fter that, after the 35 days, another 60 days of the same thing, but a little bit more freedom. Not so intense, but staying around people in recovery and not j ust going back out there to where I came from, which would be my old job and old friends and all that. I’ve been in treatment four times. And I’ve always gone back, g otten out, and gone back to where I came from. And it does help to kind of relocate and then be around people that are trying to do what you’re doing, for sure. Because every time I would go back to that old environment, of course, I’m with my old friends. They don’t have that problem, but they’re going to do it. And then here you are, getting dragged back into it. Number one would be to continue to go to meetings and stay involved in t he 12 – step program that I’m in and to talk to my sponsor and to continue worki ng steps, and to eventually be a sponsor for other people, and just to let this li fe become my life. Because it has to be, for me, everything about how I live and what I do. ODESSA: I had to relapse several times to understand that I couldn’t do this by myself. I couldn’t beat this thing. The first step, I had to admit that I was an addict. For years, I didn’t want to accept that, because I had been so p roductive for so long. And the second thing was for me to be able to surrender to something. It ‘s hard to surrender to something that you don’t know anything about. To be able to trust someone in recovery was like foreign land to me. But that was the second step was a big step for me, to be able to surren der to the suggestion of others. And to become open minded. To see other people that’s gone on before me and to see the evidence that had been proven by them. For so many years, I only believed in me and what I was capable of doing . But no man’s an island. And I’ve learned that. And reaching out to others and w orking in a 12 -step program and being held accountable has made my life successful. Matter of fact, all the years that I thought I was productive, I wasn’t at peace. Today, I’m at peace. SHANE: One of the counselors had a mirror in his office. And he said, go look in that mirror. And I walked into that mirror. And he said, now look straig ht in the ©2014 Laureate Education, Inc. 6 Behavioral and Chemical Addiction eyes of the person that’s looking at you in that mirror and say, if that ‘s not the problem, there is no solution. ‘Cause I can’t change anything else but t hat. And that scared me. It scared me, because I was the one destroying every body around me, including myself. It’s like I was OK with dying. I was afraid of living. And boy, that just impacted so much in my life. It’s one of the things t hat still draws me to recovery today. I want to tear up thinking about it right no w, because it’s one of the powerful things that keeps me going. And that addictions counselor doesn’t know how much he’s helped me. DAVID COOK: Someone with a chemical addiction can also have an unidentif ied behavioral addiction, or vice versa. It’s not uncommon for this to happe n. It’s what is known as cross-addiction. When someone stops one addiction– say, cocaine addiction– and replaces it with a behavioral addition, like gambling, this is cross-addiction. Addictions counselors should keep in mind that there are similarities and differences in chemical and behavioral addictions. Be havioral and Chemical Addiction Additional Content Attribution Music: Creative Support Services Los Angeles, CA Dimension Sound Effects Library Newnan, GA Narrator Tracks Music Library Stevens Point, WI Signature Music, Inc Chesterton, IN Studio Cutz Music Library Carrollton, TX Special Thanks: Fairland Center/Region One Mental Health ©2014 Laureate Education, Inc. 7

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