An addiction is when my body, or even my psyche becomes dependent something. The disease model defines it as an chemical imbalance in the brain. I appreciate that view, and I view addiction much more broadly as I don’t view our humanity simply as a culmination of chemicals or body parts. While there may be chemical imbalances, I’ve found that there’s much, much more to someone’s addictive patterns. There’s a rich healing story to be told.

I work with addiction by looking to your strengths

While I will recommend 12 step program attendance for some people, I focus on the power that you DO have, the strengths that you can use to start managing your life again. More specifically, I believe in and work from the 16 Steps of Empowerment. These were created by Charlotte Davis Kasl, Ph.D. and are outlined in her book Many Roads, One Journey (Moving Beyond the 12 Steps). These 16 steps focus on your power, on your abilities, and on your strengths.

I have found that these 16 steps work for a variety of addictive patterns: sex, crystal, codependence as well as various arousal addictions.

An example of a chemical addiction is Alcohol. An Arousal addiction example is sex. An alcohol addiction can look like my body going into “the shakes” if I don’t have a drink or drink the same amount of drinks that I’m accustomed to drinking. With sex, I might perceive or feel the need for sex, or porn or masturbation to rid myself of an underlying feeling that I don’t want to feel.

Often we define an addiction as chemical dependency, but there are arousal addiction issues as well. These look like gambling, shopping, adrenaline, sexual addiction, etc….I work a lot with sex addiction issues, along with that crystal meth issues. Regardless of my drug of choice…

If I need more and more of a substance or I need to do more and more of an action to get the same desired effect, my body is showing an addictive pattern.


A Red Flag when referring to addictions is something, and it could be anything that triggers me (gets me into such a place of “upset” or stress) to such a degree that I slip…. I take an action that I’ve vowed that I wouldn’t do again…it could be taking that drink, using that drug, hiring a prostitute, gambling, max-ing out my credit card, or over eating (to name a few). Red Flags can lead to…


A Red Flag could be ANYTHING really. I could be listening to music and a song comes on that reminds me of something sad, maybe a past relationship. If I’m not able to deal with that sadness, or I haven’t healed the issues around the breakup, I might try to get away from feeling the sadness, or from remembering certain memories. That’s when the “Addict Mind” can come up and say, “Gee, that music is REALLY great, remember when we drank or used ___ during…” and then I might be triggered to use.

OTHER EXAMPLES OF RED FLAGS (this could be for addictions or symptoms of depression, too)

Irritability for no reason

Feelings of Loneliness                         Feelings of being bored

Starting to isolate from friends, family OR

If I stop doing the things that I used to love doing