An addiction defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse is:

“Addiction – or compulsive drug use despite harmful consequences – is characterized by an inability to stop using a drug; failure to meet work, social, or family obligations; and, sometimes, tolerance and withdrawal. The latter reflect physical dependence in which the body adapts to the drug, requiring more of it to achieve a certain effect (tolerance) and eliciting drug-specific physical or mental symptoms if drug use is abruptly ceased (withdrawal). Physical dependence can happen with the chronic use of many drugs. Thus, physical dependence in and of itself does not constitute addiction, but it often accompanies addiction.”

The drug can be a substance but also a behavior such as gambling, shopping, pornography, sex, exercise, and others.

How do I know I am an addict? This is not an easy question to answer. An addiction can go years without being noticed or addressed, which can cause the addict to reply with a firm "No, I am not!" If you ask those that love the addict, whether he or she an addict, they may be unsure or reply with a firm, "Yes!" So, if you are wondering if you have a problem take some time and answer a few questions with honesty.
1. If I were to ask the closest people to me who do not engage in the same behavior if I have a problem, would they say yes?
2. What happens when I try to stop doing the behavior or completely stop? Focus on mental change and behavioral change.
- a day, a week, a month, 90 days
3. Do I have secrets around the drug/ behavior?
4. If my closest relationships knew what I was doing would they be surprised? Would they think differently about me?
5. How long has this been in my life?
6. How does it benefit my life?
7. How does it hurt my life?
8. Do you find yourself defending your drug/ behavior?
9. Do you find yourself minimizing, rationalizing, blaming others for your behavior?
8. Do I say these words when asked about my drug/ behavior?
- Everyone is doing it, it is no big deal (minimizing)
- If you would change your view or beliefs we would not have a problem (blaming)
- You don't have to know (keeping it a secret)
- My life is better because of it (rationalizing)
- I am an individual and I can do what I want
- No one is being hurt (justifying)
- I got this, I can manage it, I am responsible (if it is being argued about, then you lying to yourself)

Willingness to be honest is the first step to recovery. Knowing that an addict lies to themselves more than to anyone else often makes it difficult for initial acceptance. Getting a support team in place has been proven to result in the best success. It takes one to become an addict, but takes a team to overcome it. Don't be fooled by the strength it takes to beat an addiction. The longer it has been in your life, the harder the struggle may be. If you can not find a support group in Orlando, there are many online groups. Face to face will feel more supportive and the courage to sit next to someone going through the same struggles is an encouragement you may not get through a screen. 

If you are addicted to pornography and/ or sex, please seek a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT).

If you are married or in a relationship with a sex addict, please contact me. I am currently completing the process toward certification in the area of Relational Trauma, in order to be better equipped to work with the partner of sex addicts. As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist I will walk with you through the healing journey from the trauma.
If you are addicted to drugs, please seek a certified addictions therapist.  The
resource page has more information to educate yourself, knowledge is powerful in recovery.

How do I know a loved one is an addict? Have you heard the words most often spoke by addicts (see above)?  Do you feel like you are in a repetitive cycle? It is time to put up boundaries and enforce them. Boundaries are self protection, not about changing the other person. A therapist can help you define what healthy boundaries are necessary. Build a support team, which may include a group, a therapist, and a few trusted friends. You do not need to walk alone. An addiction takes a toll on those that love the one struggling. If the addict is in Denial (Don't Even Know I Am Lying), tough love is best. The battle to fight is not yours. No real recovery will happen until the walls of denial begin to come down.  The first step is seeking support. Gain knowledge about the drug/ behavior, see the resource page for more information.