Addiction: Types and Treatments

What is Addiction? (By guest contributor, Bethany Hatton (

Addiction is a medical condition in which a person compulsively uses a substance or engages in a behavior despite the detrimental consequences of said behavior. In most cases, the behavior or substance activates brain pathways of reward and reinforcement that release the neurotransmitter dopamine. The brain’s dopamine levels control our motivation to proactively perform actions that we have to do for survival such as eating and procreating. In short, regular dopamine bursts condition us to do the things we need to do. When a person engages in an addictive behavior that releases dopamine, the body learns that it needs that behavior in order to survive.

There are various things a person to which a person can become addicted.

●      Substances such as alcohol, inhalants, opioids, cocaine, nicotine, etc.

●      Medications prescribed by a doctor such as stimulants used to treat ADHD and benzodiazepines to treat anxiety or sleep disorders.

●      Daily activities such as video games, work, or exercise.

●      Behaviors and habits such as sex, watching pornography, gambling, shopping, using the Internet and even getting tattoos.

●      Disordered eating including anorexia, bulimia nervosa and binging.

Patterns of Addictive Behavior

Noticing addictive behavior isn’t always easy. Addicts have a tendency to hide their behaviors as a means of self-preservation. However, neurologists and psychologist have identified several key behavioral patterns often associated with addiction.

●      The addict will feel compelled to revert to addictive behavior whenever an environmental signals opportunities for consumption. For instance, stress may make an alcoholic crave a drink; feeling lonely may trigger a pornography addict to turn on the computer; being around the smell of cigarettes may make a smoker light up.

●      The addict continues their behavior despite the fact that they no longer derive pleasure from it.

●      The addict expresses a desire to quit, but can never follow through. They knowingly act against their prior determination to abstain.

●      In their attempts to quit one addictive behavior, the addict substitutes one compulsive problem for another.

●      Individuals with deficits in emotion-regulation skills engage in addictive behaviors in an attempt to manage negative or distressing affective states.

●      Some people are genetically vulnerable to high levels of impulsivity and addictive behaviors.

Addiction Treatment

As a medical disease, addiction needs professional treatment in order to facilitate recovery. In order to recover, the addict must want to continue their life free from their destructive behavior problems and commit to breaking their habits. Without personal accountability, they easily fall back into their addictions and continue putting their livelihoods, health and relationships at risk.

Inpatient addiction rehab centers, (like Desert Solace) are residential programs for those suffering from addiction. Clients stay at a facility for the duration of their treatment and receive round-the-clock medical treatment, therapy, counseling, and medication as needed. These programs teach addicts about lifestyle changes and habits that support sober living such as community support, family counseling and healthy habits including meditation and exercise for stress and mood management.

There are various types of inpatient treatment programs. Twelve-step programs are common; they are adopted from the group Alcoholics Anonymous, which first used the method. These programs require participants to seek healing through surrender to a higher power. Most religious-affiliated treatment centers use practices similar to the 12-Steps, but they are specific to the participant’s established faith.

Holistic treatment programs treat the whole person physically, mentally, and spiritually without imposing traditional doctrines and parameters. These programs additionally seek to achieve wellness through natural or homeopathic means, but they can also be used in conjunction with western medicine as a way to supplement recovery efforts.

Addiction is a medical disease that can ruin a person’s life. It’s not always substance abuse-- people can become addicted to their behaviors and daily activities, as well. Treating addiction involves a lot of work. Do your research on the best addiction recovery options for your loved one to improve chances of rehabilitation.


Mark Jorgensen Q&A: How Desert Solace Center Treats Sex Addiction

Mark Jorgensen Q&A: How Desert Solace Center Treats Sex Addiction

“Of course, addiction begins with a choice to indulge in a particular behavior or substance,” he said. “But as addiction takes hold, the actions of the addict become a function of the more primitive midbrain, which governs the primal instinct of survival, instead of the frontal cortex, which govern logic and decision-making.”

Utah residential facility to offer treatment for porn 'addicts' St. George • Desert Solace offers therapy, integrate family into process.

SOURCE: Salt lake Tribune 2_22_2012

A St. George couple hopes to open what they believe would be Utah's first residential treatment center for pornography "addiction."

Mark Jorgensen and his wife, Jerri, are seeking state approval to open the 5-acre Desert Solace for up to eight men whose treatment would consist of 45 days of talk therapy combined with outdoor exercise and a healthy diet. Cellphones and computers will not be allowed, and sex offenders will not be eligible. The treatment will cost $8,000, but the Jorgensens believe insurers will cover at least the psychotherapy portion.

"It will give those addicted to porn a chance to get away from everyday life and just focus on their problem," said Jorgensen, who describes himself as a former pornography addict who wants to help others overcome their obsession. "It will give them freedom and a chance to take back their lives."

While the Jorgensens use the term addiction, there is ongoing debate over whether compulsive use of pornography is a true addiction.

Ted Wander, a Salt Lake City psychiatrist and member of the Utah Psychiatric Association governing board, said there is no consensus on that question within the treatment community.

Drug addicts and porn abusers have some commonalities, he said. Dopamine, an organic chemical that plays a role in the brain's so-called pleasure and reward centers and is present in higher levels in drug addicts, is also found in the brains of pornography users, according to Wander. And people whose lives revolve around pornography can demonstrate behavior similar to alcoholics and drug addicts, including a lack of understanding of the negative consequences of their actions. But excessive use of pornography "is not recognized [as an addiction] in the diagnostic manuals used by the American Psychiatric Association," he said.

He didn't know of any existing residential program in Utah dedicated to porn users.

The Jorgensens said they plan to apply by March for a permit from the Division of Family Services to treat eight male residents at a time, and may want to expand that number to 12 in the future. The couple has been hosting open houses of the facility, located in northern St. George near Snow Canyon State Park, and describe the community as accepting of the idea.

How Pornography Can Change Your View of Sex

Teens who receive most of their sex education from pornography and adults who turn to pornography to satisfy their lusts often find their view of sex becomes warped over time. Below our team at Desert Solace offers a few examples of how pornography can change the way you see sex:

Consent is not often present.

Many graphic videos and images depict non-consensual situations and then twist it to seem as though the victim is enjoying the act against his or her will. This is not a portrayal of healthy sex, which should always be between two consenting partners who respect one another’s wellbeing.

Pornography provides unrealistic expectations.

Pornography is sold as a fantasy to its audience, which is why so many videos and erotic literature portray sensual situations that could not play out in real life. However, if these situations are all teenagers and compulsive viewers are seeing, they can develop false assumptions about what sex is really like.

People can become disinterested in real-life intimacy and sex.

Viewing pornography can lead to the development of sexual fantasies that can’t be achieved through intimacy with a partner. When partners can’t meet the standards set by pornography, some people stop becoming aroused by the prospect of real sex and retreat back to pornography.

Though right now breaking free of pornography may seem impossible, we encourage you to call 435-817-1351 today to learn more about overcoming your pornography addiction in St. George, Utah, with our 12-step recovery program.

 Contact us today, there is hope.