A New Way to Look at Addiction: Is it Always a Choice between 12 Steps or No Steps?

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According to addiction treatment expert Dr. Marc Kern, new research confirms an urgent need for a new paradigm for addiction treatment that doesn't have only an either/or solution. An addiction moderation or addiction modification choice.

Addictions are not and either/or proposition. 12-step programs are not the only answer.

Each day it seems that another celebrity announces that he or she is addicted--to sex, drugs, or overeating. Tiger Woods is outed as a serial cheater and enters sex addiction rehab. Amy Winehouse may not want to go to rehab but she needs to do something about her drug problem. Even Oprah in and out of rehab for her carb habit.

Some would say that 'just say no" is the answer. But Dr. Marc Kern, one of the nation's leading experts on addiction treatment, tells us it's not that simple. Some people can drink less but not need to stop drinking entirely. Can we expect Tiger Woods to never have sex again or Oprah to never have another cookie?

As Dr. Kern tells us, "New research confirms an urgent need for a new paradigm for addiction treatment that doesn't have only an either/or solution. We face the reality that people get addicted to all sorts of things that they really can't just say no to. Everyday substances like sugar, flour, caffeine and everyday activities such as shopping, texting, work and now even indoor tanning, as well as drugs, alcohol, and sex addiction are good examples."

Not long ago a report was published that concluded that bingeing on high-calorie foods may be as addictive as cocaine, and could cause compulsive eating and obesity. But if current addiction treatment models leave 95% of overweight people unable maintain long-term weight loss, Kern and other addiction therapists say that we are approaching addiction treatment in the wrong way.

According to Dr. Kern, there are alternative forms of treatment available to the millions and millions of ordinary people who realistically can't just say no. Just mentioning moderation in a 12-step meeting and you may be shouted down by people telling you it can’t be done, that’s it’s a disease, and if you try to moderate, you will risk going mad or dying from it. Yet your own observations tell us that modification is the most common way people change."

All irrational repetitive behaviors are not "addictions." Most of us have observed others who have changed their harmful behaviors in a slow, incremental fashion. As Dr Kern puts it, "In most cases, they modify their behavior. They do benefit from moderation. Many, perhaps most, of my clients are able to learn to control their addictive behavior without going 'cold turkey'."

On his new website (http://www.habitdoc.com), Dr. Kern offers a new--and quite different--addiction treatment approach to anyone with a telephone. It is anonymous, individualized, and is a science-based, accelerated, behavior modification system.

According to Dr. Kern, we are all creatures of habit. Forming habits is normal and necessary. Some habits help us to be more productive. Being on time, brushing our teeth, exercising regularly are all habits that improve our lives. But some habits have the opposite effect. We call these out-of-control, unhealthy habits by another name. We call them addictions.

“Despite the conventional wisdom, addiction is never simply a matter of having a disease,” says Kern. “Nor is it simply a choice. In most cases, addictive behavior is really a complicated interaction of psychology, social environment, and individual biology. Smoking, excessive drinking, gambling compulsively, and even overeating are habitual patterns of behavior that can be modified—with the right approach.”

According to Dr. Kern, Addictions can be reduced to habits or eliminated completely using modern psychological skill-building techniques. Progress can be made toward modifying an addiction even while you are involved with the substance or behavior of abuse.

About Dr. Kern

Dr. Marc is a nationally-recognized expert in moderation management who has appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live and ABC’s 20-20. He has helped hundreds of people learn to gain more control over their unhealthy habits and even turn some of them into good ones. He teaches the psychology of behavioral change rather than make others feel helpless in the face of their behavioral problems.

For more information on Dr Kern and his approach to his non 12-step treatment methods, visit http://www.HabitDoc.com


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Marc F. Kern Ph.D.
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