Thursday, February 11, 2010

How S.A.F.E. is Your Behaviour?

After recently attending a mental health and addiction workshop, I was reminded of the work of Dr. Patrick Carnes and his expertise in the field of behavioural/process addiction.

I thought this post was particularly relevant given some of the recent "acting out" behaviour of such celebrities as Tiger Woods and David Duchovny and their ties to sexual addiction.

A behavioural addiction is one that does not involve a substance like drugs, alcohol or nicotine. A behavioural or process addiction is when someone is involved in an activity that they have difficulty controlling and that has destructive consequences. Some examples would be sex, gambling, internet, porn, shopping, over or under eating, or even toxic relationships etc.

These are also know as impulse/control issues where someone has difficulty controlling the destructive behaviour and/or has a compulsion to engage in these behaviours despite their negative consequences.

Patrick Carnes provides the following quick assessment using the acronym S.A.F.E.

Secretive - Are you involved in a process or a behaviour that is secretive? Is it something you do not want to talk about openly?

Abusive - Are you involved in a process or behaviour that is abusive? Is it harmful to yourself or another?

- Does this process or behaviour separate or remove you from your feelings? Is it the only area of your life in which you experience feeling?

Emptiness - Does this process or behaviour, after you have engaged in it awhile, now leave you with a sense of emptiness?

This is only a brief assessment. If you have said "Yes" to 2 or more of these, you might be struggling with an addictive pattern of behaviour and it might be in your highest interest to seek help.

Best of health and warmest regards, Paul Radkowski