Addiction Counseling Tucson

Tucson Addiction Counseling

If you’ve landed on this page, you’re likely struggling with something you think is a problem. Or someone you love is being held hostage by an addiction and you’re trying to find them, or you, help. Whether the addiction or problematic behavior is yours or someone else’s, addiction can lead to isolation, broken relationships, physical and emotional distress, desperation, financial strain, and can increase the risk of accidental death or suicide. There are several models of addiction with no one being right or wrong. 

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (2019), “addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.” The medical/disease model of addiction is widely known and readily accepted. Alcoholics Anonymous, a “fellowship of people who come together to solve their drinking problem,”  supports this model of addiction. In the first step of AA, members admit they are powerless over their addiction. 

According to Colin A Ross, M.D. who developed Trauma Model Therapy, addiction is “the place you are at, which I call here. Here is intolerable due to feelings and conflicts. The intolerable feeling could be fear, anger, anxiety, emptiness, boredom, or sadness. The purpose of the addiction is to take you from here to over there. Over there is stoned, passed out, thrilled, or otherwise distracted” (The Trauma Model, 2007). Dr. Ross believes you can be addicted to just about anything if it distracts you from here to over there: from alcohol and drugs to depression and dissociation. 

Things You Can Be Addicted To

Addiction can be chemical or behavioral. The things listed below describe many common things someone could be addicted to:

  • Alcohol
  • Illegal drugs (heroin, meth, cocaine)
  • Legal drugs (marijuana, tobacco, prescription pills)
  • Eating (overeating, restricting, binging, purging)
  • Sugar
  • Caffeine 
  • Gambling
  • Gaming
  • Social Media
  • Electronics
  • Sex/masturbation
  • Pornography
  • Work
  • Shopping
  • Exercise
  • Dieting
  • Unhealthy relationships
  • Perfectionism
  • Rage
  • Road rage
  • Codependency
  • Self-harm
  • Sleeping

Indicators and Symptoms of Addiction

How do you know if you have a problem? “According to DSM-5, widely used as a roadmap to diagnosis, it becomes a disorder when use eludes control and interferes with functioning. Substance use disorder is marked by a pattern of pathological behaviors related to use of the substance” (Psychology Today). These signs, symptoms, and indicators may indicate you need help:

  • Denial that you have a problem when others have told you that you do
  • You feel powerless to not use a substance or engage in a behavior
  • A loved one has given you an ultimatum of ‘get help or we’re done’
  • Life feels unmanageable
  • Problems at work, school, or in relationships
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Preoccupation of your time/thoughts fixated on a substance or behavior
  • Excessive worry 
  • Loneliness
  • Isolation/social withdrawal
  • Hiding your use or behavior
  • Lying about your use or behavior
  • Decreased energy/motivation
  • Increased tolerance of a substance or behavior requiring you to use/do more to stay high
  • Rationalization of why your use/behavior is not as bad as someone else’s
  • Using/engaging despite negative consequences (including legal consequences)
  • Cravings you can’t exert will power over
  • You’ve tried to cut back or stop and fall back into using/engaging
  • Engaging in risky behaviors you wouldn’t otherwise find yourself doing
  • Experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms if you stop using/engaging

“One of the hardest things was learning that I was worth recovery.”

What to Expect at Joshua Tree

At Joshua Tree, we believe there is healing from and freedom from addiction and the pain and carnage it can leave in it’s wake. You might assume that turning from an addiction – take alcohol for instance – means a series of behavioral changes: stop drinking, go to AA meetings, avoid environments that might trigger your urge to drink. But how do you do that? To successfully change your behavior, you have to recognize and understand the interplay of your thoughts and your emotions. We assume our behavior is the result of how we feel, which is true but only in part – our thoughts influence our feelings in the tiny space between an event happening to us and our response. For example, I had a bad day –> I’m overwhelmed –> I’m going to the bar (event, feeling, action). Now pause after ‘I had a bad day’ and capture the thought(s) that came to mind automatically (without your conscious awareness), perhaps, ‘I’ll never get out of this dead end job.’ Dig deeper and you’ll find a rule or assumption, like, ‘you shouldn’t have to work this hard just to survive.’ Drill down even further and you’ll hit bedrock: your core beliefs such as, ‘I’m a failure.’ 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a model of therapy that addresses our (1) thoughts and core beliefs (things we believe to be true about ourselves, others, and the word) which are what trigger (2) our emotions which then impact (2) our behavior. When we change our thoughts, we can change our behaviors; when we recognize our core beliefs, we can change our lives. Dana Denney uses this model to address addition and problematic urges and behaviors. When you address addiction, it’s not uncommon for someone to find things like unresolved trauma, or grief and loss experiences. When there is extensive trauma, Dana may recommend you work with one of our trauma specialists to address the roots of your addiction.

From a Trauma Model Therapy (TMT) perspective, addiction is considered the solution to a problem and the work of therapy is figuring out what problem or problems your solving and address those. According to TMT, addictions are avoidance strategies and no different than other symptoms or behaviors. To a trauma therapist, what is more important than the type of avoidance strategy you’re using is what you’re avoiding. A trauma therapist might also use EMDR, Deep Brain Reorienting or Internal Family Systems to address the roots of addiction. 

If you’re struggling with an addition, we want to help. Sometimes psychotherapy is the best fit for your healing, and sometimes you need to go through detox in a rehab problem. We’ll help you figure out a course of action you’re ready for and comfortable with that is safe and effective. 

If you are the loved one of a friend of family member who is struggling and need help with healthy boundaries, setting limits, grieving the loss of the person you used to know, making decisions about when to help and how much, or you need to wrestle with addiction from a Biblical perspective, we’re here for you to. Addiction often creates wounds that don’t go away just because someone stops using or engaging in a problematic behavior.   You are worthy of receiving help, support, guidance, and healing too.