Addiction: Addictive Behaviors

Addiction: Addictive Behaviors

By Marilyn Wells


Addictions come in many forms, some of which may be hard to even recognize as a problem. Addictions have serious effects on mental health, physical well-being, and affect the lives of those around the addict.  First, it is important to recognize whether or not you or a loved one is engaging in any addictive behaviors.

Some addictive behaviors include:

  • Inability to quit a certain habit, even when you want to
  • Remaining in the environment the addiction or craving formed in
  • Unable to control the craving
  • Substituting one addictive behavior for another
  • Desire for the craving, even when the craving ceases to result in pleasure
  • Self-medication

Addictive behaviors are often linked to Antisocial Personality Disorder, low tolerance for stress, compulsive behaviors, insecurity and depression.

Addictive behaviors are hard to conquer alone and may be signify another underlying mental health issue. If you or anyone you know is or may be expressing addictive behaviors, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit for more information.



Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome


By Marilyn Wells


Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) occurs after alcohol or drug withdrawal, which presents fewer physical withdrawal symptoms, but is more disruptive to an individual emotionally and psychologically. PAWS occurs as a reaction to the individual’s brain returning to a normal state, which can often take up to two years.

Symptoms of PAWS include:

  • Rapid/extreme mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Loss of excitement
  • Anxiety
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Variations in energy and concentration

Individuals with Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome often experience these symptoms in episodes, which last for several days. During these episodes, individuals often struggle to fight the temptations to relapse.  However, with the help of a psychologist, individuals suffering from PAWS can better understand the process their bodies are going through, and learn how to practice methods of relaxation and self-care that will smooth the transition back to a normal life.


The experienced psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.


Addiction to Video Games


Addiction to Video Games

By Catherine Ferreira

Video game addition—is it a real thing? While not listed as an official diagnosis in the DSM-5, it is certainly being taken as a real thing, with the rise of video game consumption and the ever-growing prominence of gaming culture.

Perhaps it is the reinforcing nature of video games that gives them their appeal. The illusion of success and victory can certainly be addicting. Or maybe there is a darker implication hidden behind video game addiction—that of escapism and the inability to come to terms with reality. The latter is perhaps a more common affliction with adolescent and adult gamers, who oftentimes find themselves socially isolated and unemployed because of their addiction.

How to treat someone who might have a video game addiction? The same way you would treat someone with a drug or alcohol addiction: therapy or rehabilitation centers.

If you believe you or a loved one are addicted to video games, or have an addiction of some sort, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can assist you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.  Visit for more information.

Image source:

Addiction – Video Gaming


Bad Habits:  Video Game Addiction

It is very common nowadays to see parents getting frustrated with their children when all they do is play video games all day.  It is becoming a distraction from school work, daily lives, and maintaining social connections.  The gaming business is growing at an exponential rate. “The Entertainment Software Association estimates that in the United States, 58% of the population owns a gaming console.  In 2013, the video game market totaled $93 billion in revenue and is projected to reach $111 billion by 2015” (Psychiatric Annals, 379).  There is more and more gaming systems produced every day.  Last year alone 2 new gaming systems were manufactured and the chaotic experience when trying to buy one during the holidays was extreme.  There are websites made specifically to help people decide what gaming system to buy for the holidays.

There are many symptoms of gaming addiction. Addiction: The more of these symptoms you can identify in your child, the greater the need to seek professional help:

  • Most non-school hours are spent on the computer or playing video games
  • Falling asleep in school
  • Falling behind with assignments
  • Worsening grades
  • Lying about computer or video game use
  • Choosing to use the computer or play video games, rather than see friends
  • Dropping out of other social groups (clubs or sports)
  • Being irritable when not playing a video game or being on the computer

Gaming addiction causes families a lot of distress and professional help is often needed.  If you notice these symptoms in anyone you know,  help is available around and seek advice and counseling for the child.  The earlier it is stopped, the less severe it may become.


Drug Addiction and Alcohol Abuse: False Promises – Bergen County, NJ

By: Davine Holness

alcoholism addiction

Alcoholism is one of many addictions from which people suffer

With the ever-increasing number of resources available, there have been numerous success stories for recovering from addictions such as alcoholism. However, even after decades of sobriety, every day can still be a fight against temptation. This temptation is not so much about the substance or activity to which one is addicted; it’s more about the lies the object tells: the promises to fill a hole in the addict’s soul. Resisting addiction is about learning to identify these promises as what they are: false.


While the media has given much publicity to alcoholism and substance abuse, people also suffer from addiction to anything from gambling or shopping, to food, sex, or even video games. Recent research has found that sweet, salty, or fatty processed foods cause the same physiological process in the mind of a food addict as crack produces in a cocaine addict (Peeke). However, with help and lifestyle changes, it is possible to overcome addiction and live a sober life.


If you are struggling with any kind of addiction, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help. Contact the Bergen County, New Jersey or Manhattan offices at 201-368-3700 or 212-722-1920. Visit for more information.



Nakken, C. (1996). The addictive personality: understanding the addictive process and compulsive behavior (2nd ed.). Center City, Minn.: Hazelden.

On Rejecting the False Promise, 25 Years Later – World of Psychology. (n.d). Retrieved May 14, 2012

Peeke, P. & Aalst, M. v. (2012). The hunger fix: the three-stage solution to free yourself from your food addictions for life. Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale Books.

Pencils Down, Bottoms Up: Drinking Culture Among Students

By: Kimberly Made

College Drinking

Drinking has always been considered a part of college life. After a week of classes, exams, and papers, the weekend feels like an oasis in the desert and what better way to celebrate making it through that seemingly never ending wave of stress and sleepless nights than with a drink or two?

But where do we draw the line between harmless fun and alcoholism?

In the land of Thirsty Thursdays and Two Dollar Tuesdays, it seems there’s always an excuse to go out and distract yourself from the stress of your daily life with a few drinks. As college students, we find ourselves in a place where the idea of being an alcoholic is just a mere joke thrown around among friends. How can we be expected to tell the difference between a friend that just really enjoys Vodka Red Bulls and one who may actually have a problem?

Alcohol Abuse is characterized by a maladaptive pattern of alcohol use leading to significant impairment or distress as manifested by at least one of the following within a one-year period:

  1. Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school or home (e.g., repeated absences or poor work performance related to alcohol use)
  2. Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving while under the influence)
  3. Recurrent alcohol related legal problems (e.g., arrests for alcohol related disorderly conduct)
  4. Continued alcohol use despite having social or interpersonal problems caused by the effects of alcohol (e.g., arguments or physical fights)

While it’s completely normal to go out and enjoy Happy Hour after a long day, it’s important to keep in mind that once alcohol begins to have a negative impact on someone’s day-to-day life, it is time to seek help.


If you are concerned that you or anyone you care about may need help dealing with alcohol abuse, the licensed professionals at Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can assist you.  Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.  Visit for more information.

Hypnosis and How it Helps: The Clinical Uses of a Trance

By: Davine Holness

Improve your life with hypnosis

Hypnosis can help you quit smoking and has many other clinical uses

Have you ever taken the first several steps of a habitual journey before you realized where you were going?  Ever checked out mentally while driving, jogging, or riding the bus?  Ever gotten so wrapped up in a book that you were no longer aware of your surroundings?  If you’ve had any of these experiences, you’ve been in a trance before.  Hypnosis puts subjects in a similar kind of trance – they reach a state of inner absorption, concentration, and focused attention.

People are often mystified by the idea of hypnosis.  Yet, it is safe and has been proven effective for a wide variety of uses in clinical settings.

Hypnosis is used for:

  • Therapy with victims of violent and/or sexual crimes
  • Smoking cessation
  • Weight control
  • Sexual dysfunctions
  • Concentration, test anxiety, and learning disorders
  • Anxiety and stress management
  • Bed-wetting
  • Depression
  • And a variety of medical problems such as burns, nausea, allergies, and pain relief.

Hypnosis works because our mind can be used more powerfully when it is intensely focused.  Hypnosis takes away the constraints and inhibitions set forth by the conscious mind, letting the unconscious take over.  Contrary to common misconceptions, hypnosis does not cause you to surrender your will.  In fact, it won’t work unless you are a willing participant and allow your mind to be open to suggestion.  Another prevalent myth is that hypnosis causes you to completely lose consciousness and subsequently forget what happened during the session.  Actually, most patients late recall everything that happened while they were under hypnosis.

When choosing a hypnosis provider, it is important to carefully select a qualified individual.  Look for a professional who is licensed, not just certified, in their field by the state.  Lay hypnotists may be certified but lack the medical and psychological training to be licensed.  If you are facing a problem that you think may be improved through hypnosis, the licensed professionals at Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can assist you.  Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit for more information.


Grohol, J. M. (2013, October 9). Clinical Hypnosis. Clinical Hypnosis. Retrieved May 15, 2014