Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Addiction Specialist in the Treatment of Multiple Addictions

I met Mavis through a friend who recommended I speak with her. Mavis has treated many clients and has helped save many lives. As a therapist, she has provided and continues to provide her knowledge and understanding to those that need it most...

:What is your occupation?

Addiction Treatment Specialist, all and multiple. I am certified in the treatment of multiple addictions and the supervision of others who study and train.


Average statistics: Addicts have an average of three addictions. Traditional models of treatment only address substance abuse. Some people are lucky enough to only have to face the consequences of one addiction at a time so they can focus and get results with treating whichever addiction was causing the most consequences.

Those who aren’t so lucky?

Sometimes the secondary addiction may not progress till several years later. For example someone with fifteen years sobriety may then face a food addiction. Other people have multiple addictions that progress together and some even have what is now termed “addiction interaction disorder.”

What is that?

Someone who has food addiction and sex addiction (for example); when they’re sexually active they restrict their eating or vice versa.

Describe some kinds of addictions you treat?

Sex addiction, food, alcohol and drug addiction…also family member of addicts.

:When is the best situation for a client to seek your assistance?

I usually treat alcohol and drug addicts when they have already been sober for a period of time.


They’ve been to rehabilitation treatment first and if not then I may recommend them there and then they return to me after treatment.

Is there a difference of treatment of addictions?

The differences are in the details; the relationship you have with food can be different then the relationship you have with sex…

Do you think addiction is a common malady in society today?

There are many addictive pursuits that are popular in American culture: drinking, gambling, food, sex, tobacco. A lot of people seem to be able to indulge in these activities with no major harm done, with no story to tell. They go to Vegas for the weekend, loose an affordable amount of money, go home and it’s over for them. Or they have a birthday party and load up on carbohydrates, put everything away, and it’s over…they are able to throw out the leftovers, etc.

Oh god, I think I have a food addiction! I can never throw out anything and I eat until there’s nothing left in the fridge, always!

Every addict has a different story and they may not relate to all the symptoms they hear as examples.

How would one then know they have a problem/addiction?

The most common description is when one can’t reliably predict the outcome when they are using that substance or behavior. What we say in the business: they can’t reliably predict the outcome of any one using episode. They have lost control. Further, they are experiencing negative consequences as a result of their use and consequences keep adding up. The person may try to stop using or have periods of abstinence in their lives but the behavior keeps coming back over the years and keeps getting worse. They may need to treat a combination of these addictive interactions…


They fuse together or switch and feed into each other...

What is the best treatment for an addict?

Results shows the best outcomes come from a combination of addiction treatment in therapy and a twelve-step program.

Can only one of these treat successfully?

Depends on the person…it’s not always up to them: one may prefer one type of treatment over the other but it may not be right for them. The hardest thing about addiction treatment is people do not always like to do the things they must in order to get the help they need the most…but the positive results change their minds!

So, again, sorry for being repetitive but how can one successfully self diagnosis an addiction?

It’s an addiction when it’s self destructive, interferes with daily living…

I’m interested to know more about food addiction, I mean I really love food, compare the brain of a food addict, and is there a difference?

Mark Gold has done some very interesting studies and has found evidence of the development of additive pathways and chemical cascade that change the brain…Sarah Ullman is another researcher, Neuro-psychologist rather, she studies the brain or chemical make up of sex addicts…

What makes one more susceptible, are there triggers to developing an addiction?

Several genetic components along with these, the impact of early trauma and chronic dysfunctional systems are also factors…not necessarily causes.

What are the causes then?

The exact causes are still unknown…even when the trauma is treated or system is changed, addiction will remain.


Once fully developed…it has a life of its own.

For those living with a fully developed addiction, is there no hope, are they doomed?

No they are not doomed; there is hope if there is ongoing treatment-it works! Recovery works, addiction is a very treatable disease even though it is very powerful.

I’ve heard though, treatment only works for those who seek it, if one is in denial, there is usually no chance of recovery, would you agree?

No, I’ve worked to successfully treat wives of sex addicts, DUI offenders and other forms of ‘resistant’ populations.

What are examples of ‘a wake up call’ or as some like to term, ‘hitting bottom?’

It varies. Some people see the writing on the wall while others never face the fact of their addiction, most people experience resistance, most people never receive treatment and ‘white knuckle it’ or try to treat themselves, or switch addictions, or in the later stages of the illness, they just keep up with their maintenance dose…they’re too debilitated to do much else.

What sort of treatment can one expect in a rehabilitation center/facility seeking treatment there?

A combination between psychological, physiological, lecture, psychodrama demonstrations, group/individual therapies, recreational therapy and community process…

Can a non-addict benefit from a 12-Step Program?

Yes, families of alcoholics have benefited greatly from implementing a 12 Step Program into their daily lives, members of addicts that have been deeply affected by their loved ones condition because in effect, addiction affects them too! It turns out the ’12-Step Method’ addresses their recovery needs too…

I see, what about for other addictions such as food, gambling, etc?

These methods are a formula for a new way of life that successfully addresses and treats addictions in its many forms, including the forms it takes with its effects on loved ones and every addiction can benefit from the 12 Steps.

What about the non-addict and/or not affected, can their lives be improved by using these methods, and can it work for anyone?

Yes, it has even been useful for everyday problems…there is an actual book titled, the 12-Steps for Everyone!

I’ve heard some people refuse to join AA, they say even though it would help them, they are not religious and say AA is a religious sect/denomination, would you agree?

No, there is a common misconception, the difference between spirituality and religion is great. Our spirituality is our awareness of our beliefs, to our connections. A 12 Step Program leads people to find their own individual sense of meaning and purpose.

And getting sober and clean…

Getting sober demands coming to terms with ones’ need for caring about something other then getting high and escaping from life on life’s terms.

So once they’ve come to terms with that, they’re good to go?

This is only one of a handful of keys that is needed for lasting sobriety.

What do you get out of this? It must be very stressful at times being a therapist?

It takes a lot of courage and commitment for someone to face an addiction. I love being able to witness them in their process and to earn their trust as their guide. It is my privilege.
For more information: Go directly to Mavis’s website


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