It is possible to become addicted to many things, including substances such as alcohol, tobacco, pot, hard drugs, (e.g., heroin, crystal, etc.) or prescription drugs, or compulsive behaviours such as gambling, watching pornography, or seeking out sex. If you are concerned about addiction in your life, beginning psychotherapy can be a step toward regaining control.1

Seeking help from a therapist for addiction takes courage. You may feel overwhelmed, ashamed, or confused. A therapist from Toronto Psychotherapy Group can address your concerns about the impact addiction is having on your life and assist you in managing your addiction. He or she can also help you to locate other addiction help and resources if you need them.

Therapists listed with TPG offer compassionate, non-judgmental, and confidential therapeutic help.
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Defining Addiction

Addiction is the constant need for and use of a substance or behaviour that feels out of your control. It becomes a habit and it involves building up tolerance (which is often experienced as always needing more to feel satisfied). In the case of substance abuse, there are well-defined physical symptoms upon withdrawal. Addiction is classically experienced as using substances such as drugs or alcohol, or using outlets such as gambling or pornography, to avoid distress or unbearable feelings of boredom, anxiety, agitation, or depression. Addiction affects both brain and body and seriously disrupts our efforts to live a satisfying, meaningful life.

Addiction is a highly subjective experience. What addiction is like for you may not be exactly what it is like for someone else.
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Knowing Whether You Need Help for Addiction

Consider the following questions to help determine whether addiction is a threat to your health and well-being. Note that the following questions are meant to determine whether formal evaluation from a mental health professional might be appropriate and do not serve assessment or diagnostic purposes.

  • You feel worried, guilty, or ashamed about your addictive behaviour
  • Your addiction is affecting your relationships
  • You feel out of control
  • You do not know how else to manage your feelings
  • People close to you have expressed concern about your addiction
  • Your behaviours have caused trouble with school, work, or finances
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Treatment for Addiction and Addictive Behaviours

How Psychotherapists Work with Addiction
When a psychotherapist works with you to help manage your addiction, the aim of the process for both of you will be to understand and contain the distress that causes the behaviour in the first place. Seeing a therapist to address addiction will involve some or all of the following:

  • Exploring the psychological side and possible origins of your addiction
  • Recruiting medical and/or community-based resources if necessary
  • Cultivating insight and understanding about your addictive triggers
  • Building greater mastery of overwhelming emotions
  • Learning about self-esteem and self-care
  • Discovering your internal strengths to replace self-medication
  • Exploring and repairing the damage addiction has done to your relationships

Addiction may have you worrying about yourself, your health, your loved ones, and your reputation and finances. You need not be alone any longer with your concerns—consider getting the help you need before distress and regret overwhelm you. If you are already involved in a recovery program or have other experience with treating your addiction, psychotherapy can help complement these approaches by offering an in-depth and private exploration of your personal history and its relevance to where you find yourself now.
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Additional Addiction Help and Resources

To obtain more information about additional help in the community to treat addiction, explore some of the mental health and addiction resources in our Resources section.

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To consult with a therapist who works with addiction and who will work with you to clarify your specific concerns and treatment goals, view our directory of professionals.

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1Reference material for this entry is drawn from PDM Task Force. (2006).