Many people consume alcohol, take prescription medication, play video games, and experiment with hard drugs, yet only a select few develop dependency. I treat addiction as an unhealthy, dependent relationship with one or more substances or behaviors. For these individuals, any substance or activity—from alcohol to heroin, video games to gambling, running to steroids—can come to fill a void in the person’s life, making him/her feel complete or finally providing relief from emotional suffering.

Despite intense shame and tremendous consequence to careers, relationships, and personal health, the person can feel unable to live without his/her newfound substance/activity. Therefore, I believe achieving sobriety requires that we unmask the core emotional needs placated by addictive behavior, resolve intense shame in favor of cultivating self-compassion, and develop the courage and strategies to meet your emotional needs in healthy ways.