Addictions

High-risk situations: To approach or avoid—that is the question

In this article, I discuss whether and under what circumstances you should approach or avoid high-risk situations when addressing an addictive behaviour.In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often work with clients whose goal is to reduce or eliminate behaviours which are having negative effects on their lives. Among the behaviours are drug and alcohol use, gambling, eating issues (binge eating or bingeing and purging), viewing pornography and cheating on one’s partner in a relationship.When these behaviours become habitual, they often take on the characteristics of an addiction. These characteristics include...[more]

2019-04-22T14:11:25-06:00By |Categories: Addictions, Eating Disorders|

The circle model: A framework for understanding and addressing problematic behaviour patterns

In this article, I discuss a model I use to help clients whose goal is to reduce or eliminate behaviours which are having negative effects on their lives.In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I sometimes work with clients whose goal is to reduce or eliminate behaviours which are having negative effects on their lives. Among the behaviours are drug and alcohol use, gambling, eating issues (binge eating or bingeing and purging), viewing pornography and cheating on one’s partner in a relationship.When working with these clients, I typically start by having them gain an understanding of the causes of their issues by using a vivid pictorial model. This model also provides directions for steps clients can take to address their issues...[more]

2019-04-07T22:31:10-06:00By |Categories: Addictions, Eating Disorders|

The first step in reducing problematic behaviours: Avoid high-risk situations which you can avoid

In this article, I discuss the importance of steering clear of settings and activities which make it more likely you will choose to engage in behaviours you are trying to reduce or eliminate. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often help clients whose goals are to reduce or eliminate behaviours which are having negative effects on their lives. These behaviours include alcohol and drug use, gambling, internet use, and binge eating--to name a few. The first step I typically take in helping these clients is to make them aware of settings and activities which put them at risk for engaging in their problematic behaviours...[more]

2018-04-22T20:34:36-06:00By |Categories: Addictions, Eating Disorders|

Change your thinking to manage your emotions and your behaviours

In this article, I discuss how you can target different levels of thought for change in order to feel better emotionally and to break problematic behaviour patterns. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often see clients who are seeking help with one or both of the following issues—experiencing unpleasant emotional states they would like to change (depression, anxiety, anger, frustration and guilt, to name a few) and engaging in problematic behaviour patterns (substance use, binge-eating, procrastination, being unassertive, and avoiding social situations, to name a few). Fortunately, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) offers strategies which help people address both these issues—alleviating the intensity of unpleasant emotions and breaking problematic behaviour patterns. CBT helps people address these issues by targeting negative thought patterns for change...[more]

2018-02-25T21:36:41-06:00By |Categories: Addictions, Depression|

Two motivators to change behaviour: Hope for the good and fear of the bad

In this article, I discuss how you can use hope for positive consequences and fear of negative consequences as motivators to help you change unwanted behaviour patterns. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, clients sometimes have the goal of changing unwanted behaviour patterns such as procrastination, losing one’s temper and excessive substance use. One of the best ways to help clients achieve behaviour change in these instances is to help them focus on motivators for the types of change they are seeking. Two types of motivators serve this purpose...[more]

2017-07-30T23:14:12-06:00By |Categories: Addictions, Anger|

Viewing addictions as habits: An improvement over viewing them as diseases

In my last article, I discussed a commonly held view of addictions as diseases. I indicated that while this view has some advantages such as removing shame and consequently making it more likely a person will come for treatment, it also has substantial disadvantages. These include interfering with the person taking the necessary steps to address their addiction if they come to therapy, instilling a passive ‘fix me’ mindset which is counterproductive to making progress, as well as establishing negative expectations for progress. At the end of my last article, I said that I would propose an alternative way to view addictions which is more conducive to making progress than the view of addictions as diseases. I will discuss this alternative view in the following sections.

2017-07-04T15:12:12-06:00By |Categories: Addictions|

Viewing addictions as diseases: The pros and cons

In this article, I discuss the commonly held view of addictions as diseases along with the pros and cons of this view including its effects on progress in treatment. A commonly held view of addictions is that they are diseases. The view holds that if you are unlucky enough to be afflicted with such a disease, it will be with you for your life because it cannot be cured. Furthermore, because your addiction is a disease, you are unable to exert control over it. Acknowledging this lack of control or powerlessness is the basis of 12-step programs which are used to help people with addictions for issues such as...[more]

2017-06-16T09:37:18-06:00By |Categories: Addictions|

Habits for addressing substance use and other addictions

In this article, I discuss habits to help you or someone you know address issues with substance use and other addictions. In my continuing series on habits, I now turn to habits to help people address addictions including substance use (alcohol and drugs) along with gambling, shopping and sex, among others. If you are struggling with an addiction, you may feel at times that you have no control over your urges. In fact, there are many habits you can cultivate which will help you gain confidence in your ability to manage your urges to engage in addictive behaviours. In the following sections, I will discuss these habits which are rooted in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)...[more]

2017-01-30T14:44:07-06:00By |Categories: Addictions|

Delay and distract: A tool to help you act reflectively rather than reflexively

In this article, I discuss a technique to manage urges to engage in unhelpful behaviours in a variety of situations. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, many clients seek help with issues in which they ‘act out’ quickly and reflexively in response to urges, leading to negative consequences. The list includes people acting out with verbal or physical aggression in response to anger, acting out with eating issues including binge-eating and purging, as well as acting out through the use of alcohol, drugs and gambling...[more]

2016-11-09T12:03:41-06:00By |Categories: Addictions, Anger, Eating Disorders|

How to change your negative core beliefs

In this article, I discuss how to change thought patterns called negative core beliefs which often play a role in many psychological issues. In my last article, I discussed how to identify negative core beliefs--long-standing negative views people may have about themselves, other people in their lives or the world. These negative views usually originate from people’s difficult experiences and predispose them to think negatively about themselves, other people or the world in the present. They also play a major role in causing and maintaining various psychological issues including depression, the anxiety disorders, substance use disorders and eating disorders. In the following sections, I will discuss how to change negative core beliefs once they have been identified so that their negative influence on current thinking and mood can be reduced...[more]

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