Licensed Clinical Psychologist located in Westwood, Los Angeles, CA
While no one starts using drugs with the intention of developing a substance abuse disorder, drug abuse is an epidemic, affecting over 19 million Americans. At Kaushansky Psychology in the Westwood area of Los Angeles, licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Daniel Kaushansky, PsyD, offers specialized psychotherapy and support to help you overcome your drug abuse habits. If you’re interested in treatment for drug abuse and addiction, please call or email Kaushansky Psychology to set up a free initial phone consultation or to schedule an appointment today.
Addiction Q & A
What is addiction?
Our lives are filled with a wide variety of behaviors that we tend to repeat with frequency and consistency—from eating meals and snacks, to showering, or checking our phones. Particularly when such behaviors offer a pleasurable or mood-altering reward, we find ourselves repeating them. Yet there is a point at which engaging in an activity or consuming a substance—whether a food, drink, or drug—becomes so compulsive that it begins to feel like it is the one consuming us. While drug abuse and addiction were initially thought to be due to a lack of willpower, research shows that people who misuse drugs and alcohol have differences in the regions of their brains that control judgment, decision making, and impulsiveness. Additionally, the more you use a substance, the more severe those abnormalities become.
People are drawn to addictive behaviors for a variety of reasons. Addiction can serve as a potent form of self-medication, offering an escape from stressful life experiences, whether past or present. Addiction can also seem to fill a void, or lessen painful feelings associated with depression or anxiety.
Some people are addicted to specific substances, such as alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications. Other people find themselves hooked on “soft addictions” or “process addictions” such as gambling, work, food, sex, internet, television, gaming, shopping, gossiping, procrastinating, or exercise. Sometimes these soft addictions are insidious and difficult to recognize; they can begin as harmless habits that we engage in mindlessly, but gradually consume more and more of our time. While some amount of mindless activity can certainly be helpful for coping with stress, too much time spent on these activities becomes problematic. Over-indulging in these activities can numb us from our feelings, suppress our consciousness or intuition, and deplete our energy. These addictions create barriers in reaching our goals and staying true to our values.
If you find yourself unable to stop doing something that you know has become harmful to you or your loved ones, Dr. Kaushansky can help. He understands the profound effects that addiction can have on you, your family, friends, and social environment.
What are the signs of addiction?
Often, if you have a substance use or other addiction disorder, your family or friends might notice that you have a problem before you do. Some of the common signs include:
- Inability to stop consuming a substance or engaging in an activity, despite the negative consequences of continuing
- Withdrawal:Experiencing negative side effects, such as nausea or irritability, when you stop using
- Tolerance: Discovering that you must use the substance, or engage in the activity, more and more to achieve the same effect
- Having urges to use substances that block out other thoughts
- Challenges with self-care
- Poor self-image, shame, or diminished self-respect
- Difficulties functioning in work, family, or social relationships
- Spending money on the substance even when you can’t afford it
- Failing to meet work and social obligations due to addictive behavior
Dr. Kaushansky specializes in therapy for addiction, and has assisted individuals with addictions related to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, food, and other substances and processes. Utilizing a combination of psychodynamic theory and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Dr. Kaushansky can help you to uncover the ways in which your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors—together with your personal history and social environment—inform and perhaps encourage your addiction. This heightened understanding can help you to either change or avoid the factors that are your most significant triggers for addictive behaviors. Behind addictive behaviors, patients often discover a variety of suppressed feelings—such as fear, denial, a need for control, or a desire to numb their pain. Recovery includes feeling and processing these distressing emotions, rather than continually trying to distract oneself from them. It’s also not uncommon to find that a patient is experiencing a co-occurring addiction and another mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety. Dr. Kaushansky can help you to understand and manage multiple, interrelated behavioral health disorders. In some cases, Dr. Kaushansky may determine that medication could be helpful for supporting your addiction treatment. In such instances, he can make an appropriate referral and collaboratively work in tandem with a psychiatrist who is able to prescribe and manage such medication. Additionally, the strong therapeutic relationship you build with Dr. Kaushansky can provide critical support as you strive for, achieve, and maintain sobriety, while preventing or coping with relapse.
You don’t need to struggle with addiction forever, or alone. Dr. Kaushansky understands the stigma often experienced by people struggling with addiction, and offers a non-judgmental, safe space to freely explore the context for addiction and begin, or continue, on the path to recovery.