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Addictive behaviors

Reading with Coffee

how much is too much?

Finding ways to cope with our stress is a part of everyday life. But when the coping skills that we are using turn into patterns of harmful use, dependency, addiction, fixation, and impede normal functioning or goals, this is a big red flag that we are not ok and something has to change. Sometimes coping looks like taking substances to change our mood like alcohol or caffeine, but can also look like scrolling on tic-tock, engaging in unhealthy relationships, or even inappropriate eating patterns. Moderation is key; too much of a good thing or not enough, is a bad thing. 

Browsing smart phone

Why do i do it?

The root cause of addictive behaviors can be many things and we can have more than one trigger (something in ourself or environment that pushes us to engage in those unhealthy behaviors in order to cope/manage). Sometimes we engage in these coping skills to feel good, to feel better or escape or avoid, to do better because we think that these behaviors help us, to feel in control, to forget or relax; sometimes they have become a habit and because we have always done them, we keep doing them. Many times stopping these behaviors is difficult. Understanding what needs these coping skills are serving  can help us find replacement/alternative coping skills that are more healthy.

Warning signs


You feel compelled to do the behavior when you are should be doing something else. The behavior is frequently on your mind and it is hard to stop your focus being drawn to it.

Increased Tolerance/Withdrawl

You find that you have to engage in the behavior more and more, in order to get the desired effect. You experience uncomfortable symptoms/side effects when you cannot engage in the behavior. 

Loss of Control

 You go to the behavior when you are triggered and have an inability to control that response, feels like an automatic reaction or impulse. Maybe you try to stop doing the behavior, but it feels like you do not have a choice but to do it, out of control of your body or mind.

Risk Taking/Sacrificing

You are willing to take big risks in order to engage in this behavior and perhaps at times make disproportionate sacrifices.  It is easy to convince yourself into doing whatever you need to in order to do the behavior.

Unable to quit

You find it difficult to stop doing the behavior or cannot disengage for long periods of time. You may have tried to quit before without success or keep engaging in the behavior even though there are clear negative consequences.


You hide, disguise, lie, are secretive or defensive about your behavior. You feel guilty or know that this is not healthy, but you keep doing it. You justify your actions to people around you. Your behavior is impacting others and maybe you are in denial about it.


You make a lot of excuses as to why you do these behaviors and deny that you have a problem. You will say or do what you have to, to  yourself or others in order to keep doing the behavior.


You feel that you need this behavior in order to cope with your problems or mange the triggers; this is necessary for your functioning. The act of engaging feels like a compulsion or craving.

Sad on Couch

Side effects

Low self esteem/depression


Conflict in relationships

Legal trouble

Loss of job

Trouble in school

Low motivation

Disrupted sleep



Feeling worthless/helpless/stuck

Losing chunks of time then feeling unproductive

What Change looks like

Serious Conversation

Talk about it

Feeling stuck in the same negative cycle can be isolating. Vocalizing your thoughts and feelings can help you gain clarity on what is really going on and help us hold you acountable to reality. 

Understand it

Together we will process your triggers, what needs are being met by these unhealthy coping skills, and gain insight from what has worked and what has not.


plan it

Creating change can be difficult and discouraging alone. We will help you make a plan of small, daily, actionable steps, that build feelings of success and structure.

act on it

Accountability and consistency are key to sustainable change. We will be your partner as you put your plan into action and help you troubleshoot and celebrate along the way.

You do not have to struggle alone.

Call us today to get support now.

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