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    • 21 OCT 15
    Multiple Addictions Too Often Going Unrecognized

    Multiple Addictions Too Often Going Unrecognized

    Despite the high prevalence of multiple addictions in patients seen in substance use treatment facilities, several factors can impede recognition of co-occurring compulsive behaviors. Some of those obstacles simply result from the difficulty of patient-therapist conversations about topics such as trauma and process addictions. In order to be able to deal with multiple addictions, clinicians sometimes have to hear uncomfortable topics.

    But clients with co-occurring process addictions often will proceed through an entire course of treatment without talking about trauma or process addictions, if the topics are never brought up in therapy.

    Renowned clinician Patrick Carnes has defined multiple addictions in part as addictions that “more than coexist—they interact, reinforce, and become part of one another. They become packages.” Compulsive behaviors can be more typical—sex addiction, eating disorders and compulsive gambling—but deprivation behaviors of compulsively going without something are also included. There is a high that comes with going without as well.

    A variety of techniques can be used, such as having patients draw up a timeline of their traumatic experiences and compulsive behaviors; using patients’ body drawings to illustrate how they experience cravings; and engaging in a “red, yellow, green” exercise to help patients set up proper boundaries for acceptable behaviors.

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