There are many types of addiction, including substance abuse, process addictions (such as gambling, food, video games, compulsive exercise or work), sexual addiction or addiction to love or relationships.

National Capital Counseling can help diagnose an addiction and create and facilitate a strategy to overcome the compulsion.

  • Our staff is CSAT trained, professional, knowledgeable, caring, and discrete
  • We offer state-of-the-art assessment instruments for accurate diagnosis
  • We employ scientifically proven and evidence-based practices to help you achieve and maintain recovery
  • We offer a variety of treatment options to meet your individual needs, including individual therapy, couples therapy, group therapy, and treatment for other mental health conditions that may be interacting with your compulsive behaviors

Types of Addictions

Sexual Addiction

“Like an alcoholic unable to stop drinking, sexual addicts are unable to stop their self-destructive sexual behavior. Family breakups, financial disaster, loss of jobs, and risk to life are the painful themes of their stories.

Sex addicts come from all walks of life – they may be ministers, physicians, homemakers, factory workers, salespersons, secretaries, clerks, accountants, therapists, dentists, politicians, or executives, to name just a few examples. Most were abused as children – sexually, physically, and/or emotionally. The majority grew up in families in which addiction already flourished, including alcoholism, compulsive eating, and compulsive gambling. Most grapple with other addictions as well, but they find sex addiction the most difficult to stop.

Much hope nevertheless exists for these addicts and their families. Sex addicts have shown an ability to transform a life of self-destruction into a life of self-care, a life in chaos and despair into one of confidence and peace.”

Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D.
Author of Out of the Shadows

Sexual addiction is defined as any sexually related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment.

Sexual addiction is defined as any sexually-related compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment.

Sexual addiction has been called sexual dependency and sexual compulsivity. Sexual addicts make sex their number one priority, more important than family, friends, and work. Sex becomes the organizing principle of addicts’ lives. They are willing to sacrifice what they cherish most in order to preserve and continue their unhealthy behavior.

What Defines a Sex Addict?

No single behavior pattern defines sexual addiction. These behaviors, when they have taken control of addicts’ lives and become unmanageable, may include:

  • Compulsive masturbation
  • Compulsive use of pornography
  • Prostitution
  • Anonymous sex
  • Chronic affairs
  • Exhibitionism
  • Voyeurism
  • Indecent phone calls / Internet chats and video
  • Exploitive sex
  • Boundary violations
  • Fetish behavior to the exclusion of other behaviors

The key to understanding loss of control in addicts is the concept of the “hijacked brain.” Addicts essentially have rewired their brains so that they do behaviors such as drinking, drug use, eating, gambling, and sex even when they are intending to do something quite different. The triggers to these maladaptive responses are usually stress, emotional pain, or specific childhood scenarios of sexual abuse or sexual trauma. Breakthrough science in examining brain function is helping us to understand the biology of this disease.

How Do I Get Help?

At National Capital Counseling we can diagnose your problem through a comprehensive assessment process. We will do a thorough evaluation, including an in-depth clinical interview and testing using the sexual dependency inventory developed by Pat Carnes. After the evaluation is complete you will get a copy of your SDI which will be explained to you along with the results of your testing and the clinical interview.

Using the information gathered in the clinical interview and assessment results we will develop a personalized and comprehensive treatment plan. Your treatment may include the task-centered approach developed by Dr. Carnes and the modalities of individual and/or group therapy. Your partner is encouraged to come in with you, and it is highly recommended that they participate in treatment when possible. They will likely be suffering from the effects of your addiction, and their recovery from the experience will be incorporated during this integrated approach.

Not only is this a task-centered approach, but your family of origin history will also be studied in depth, as well as any traumas that may have been precursors to your behaviors. Trauma work typically begins once compulsive behaviors are managed. The use of 12-step support groups is encouraged and is part of the recommended treatment.

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Partners of Addicts

Do you have a partner who is currently undergoing therapy for an addiction or who has completed therapy for an addiction, but you still have underlying emotions regarding the trauma of their addiction? We offer spouses/partners of addicts group sessions in our Vienna office. Call today for details.

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Love / Relationship Addictions

Just like in any other addiction, love and relationship addicts are searching for something outside of themselves – a person, relationship, or experience – to provide them with the emotional and life stability they lack. When they are in a relationship, they feel detached, unhappy, restless, irritable, and discontent because the rush has faded. When they are not in a relationship, they feel desperate, unworthy, and alone until they find a new potential mate and get to experience the high of “falling in love” once more.

In other words, love addicts use their intensely stimulating romantic experiences to (temporarily) fix themselves and feel emotionally stable. Happily, love addicts can find the help they need. Ongoing help can be found in therapy (both individual and group) and 12-Step self-help programs like SLAA.

12 Characteristics of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous:

  1. Having few healthy boundaries, we become sexually involved with and/or emotionally attached to people without knowing them.
  2. Fearing abandonment and loneliness, we stay in and return to painful, destructive relationships, concealing our dependency needs from ourselves and others, growing more isolated and alienated from friends and loved ones, ourselves, and God.
  3. Fearing emotional and/or sexual deprivation, we compulsively pursue and involve ourselves in one relationship after another, sometimes having more than one sexual or emotional liaison at a time.
  4. We confuse love with neediness, physical and sexual attraction, pity and/or the need to rescue or be rescued.
  5. We feel empty and incomplete when we are alone. Even though we fear intimacy and commitment, we continually search for relationships and sexual contacts.
  6. We sexualize stress, guilt, loneliness, anger, shame, fear and envy. We use sex or emotional dependence as substitutes for nurturing care, and support.
  7. We use sex and emotional involvement to manipulate and control others.
  8. We become immobilized or seriously distracted by romantic or sexual obsessions or fantasies.
  9. We avoid responsibility for ourselves by attaching ourselves to people who are emotionally unavailable.
  10. We stay enslaved to emotional dependency, romantic intrigue, or compulsive sexual activities.
  11. To avoid feeling vulnerable, we may retreat from all intimate involvement, mistaking sexual and emotional anorexia for recovery.
  12. We assign magical qualities to others. We idealize and pursue them, then blame them for not fulfilling our fantasies and expectations.

The Augustine Fellowship of S.L.A.A., Fellowship-Wide Services, Inc. © 1990.

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Behavioral Addictions

Although not nearly as commonly-studied as chemical dependency many behaviors appear to have reinforcing properties which act on the brain in a similar fashion to drug or alcohol addictions, though without direct chemical interaction. These behaviors include, but are not limited to:

  • Gambling
  • Food
  • Sex
  • The Internet
  • Video Games
  • Work
  • Compulsive exercise

In extreme cases process addictions can be just as damaging to one’s life as an addiction to alcohol or cocaine. Help is available!

How do I Know if I have a Process Addiction?

The criteria for process addictions is much the same as any other addiction:

  • Powerful cravings when there is abstinence from the behavior.
  • Loss of control over how much time is spent on the behavior
  • A building of tolerance to the behavior over time, meaning that it takes more and more “acting out” to receive the same level of satisfaction, leading to the escalation of the addiction.
  • Negative consequences – this can occur in any aspect of one’s life whether it be family, financial, employment, affective, etc.

If you believe you may be suffering from a process addiction contact us today to schedule a thorough evaluation.

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Drug Addictions

“Drug addiction is a complex illness characterized by intense and, at times, uncontrollable drug craving, along with compulsive drug seeking and use that persist even in the face of devastating consequences. While the path to drug addiction begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs, over time a person’s ability to choose not to do so becomes compromised, and seeking and consuming the drug becomes compulsive. This behavior results largely from the effects of prolonged drug exposure on brain functioning. Addiction is a brain disease that affects multiple brain circuits, including those involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and inhibitory control over behavior.

Because drug abuse and addiction have so many dimensions and disrupt so many aspects of an individual’s life, treatment is not simple. Effective treatment programs typically incorporate many components, each directed to a particular aspect of the illness and its consequences. Addiction treatment must help the individual stop using drugs, maintain a drug-free lifestyle, and achieve productive functioning in the family, at work, and in society. Because addiction is typically a chronic disease, people cannot simply stop using drugs for a few days and be cured. Most patients require long-term or repeated episodes of care to achieve the ultimate goal of sustained abstinence and recovery of their lives.”

* Referenced from drugabuse.gov

I believe in the strength of individuals, but also in the evidence-based efficacy of group therapy in recovery from addictions. During treatment I strongly encourage family involvement as well as use of AA/NA 12 step programs to build strong sober supports as pillars of recovery. Therapeutic success not only comes through counseling interventions and techniques, but also with the addition of positive and healthy relationships we create and maintain. I am passionate about recovery and use my experience and professional expertise to help others avoid the pitfalls of early sobriety.

While much of my professional experience includes working with addiction, I also have extensive experience working with dual-diagnosis patients whom I have treated for mood disorders and trauma, as well as family and couples issues in addition to drug or alcohol abuse.

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Alcoholism

Alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence affects approximately 7.2 percent of adults in the United States. Signs of alcohol abuse may include:

  • Regularly drinking more or longer than you originally intended
  • Wanting to cut down or stop drinking, but being unable to
  • Spending a lot of time drinking or often getting sick due to aftereffects
  • Experiencing strong needs or urges to drink
  • Finding that drinking or hangovers often interfere with your ability to take care of your home, family, work, or school
  • Continuing to drink even if it causes trouble in your social, family, or work life
  • Giving up or cutting back on activities that used to interest you in order to drink
  • More than once getting into situations that increase your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, walking in a dangerous area, participating in unsafe sex, etc.)
  • Continued drinking even when it makes you feel anxious or depressed
  • Finding that your tolerance to the effects of alcohol has significantly increased
  • Feeling withdrawal symptoms while the effects of alcohol wear off (such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, nausea or sweating)

Does treatment work?

However severe the problem may seem, most people with an alcohol use disorder can benefit from treatment. Research shows that about 1/3 or people who are treated for alcohol problems have no further symptoms one year later, and significantly more people substantially reduce their drinking and report fewer alcohol-related problems.

*referenced from www.niaa.nih.gov

believe in the strength of individuals, but also in the evidence-based efficacy of group therapy in recovery from addictions. During treatment I strongly encourage family involvement as well as use of AA/NA 12 step programs to build strong sober supports as pillars of recovery. Therapeutic success not only comes through counseling interventions and techniques, but also with the addition of positive and healthy relationships we create and maintain. I am passionate about recovery and use my experience and professional expertise to help others avoid the pitfalls of early sobriety.

While much of my professional experience includes working with addiction, I also have extensive experience working with dual-diagnosis patients whom I have treated for mood disorders and trauma, as well as family and couples issues in addition to drug or alcohol abuse.

Request an Appointment