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~ Ritualized Compulsive Comfort-Seeking ~

ADDICTIONS, the compulsive engagement in substances and behaviors (i.e., drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, shopping, gaming, etc.), can be momentarily pleasurable, yet become a continual pattern that interferes with everyday living and responsibilities, and has severe health and social consequences. 


Dr. Daniel Sumrok, director of the Center for Addiction Sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Medicine, states: “Addiction shouldn’t be called ‘addiction.’ It should be called ‘Ritualized Compulsive Comfort-Seeking.’ Ritualized compulsive comfort-seeking (what traditionalists call addiction) is a normal response to the adversity experienced in childhood, just like bleeding is a normal response to being stabbed. The solution to changing the illegal or unhealthy ritualized compulsive comfort-seeking behavior of addiction is to address a person’s adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) individually and in group therapy.”


3 Signs of Addiction:

  • Craving for the object/activity of the addiction

  • Loss of control over the use of behavior related to the addiction

  • Continual involvement with the behavior, despite the adverse consequences with one’s health, social environment, and the law


Addictions are recognized as a chronic disease that changes brain structure and function.  “Addictive drugs provide a shortcut to the brain’s reward system by flooding the nucleus accumbens with dopamine.  The hippocampus lays down memories of this rapid sense of satisfaction, and the amygdala creates a conditioned response to certain stimuli… Repeated exposure to an addictive substance or behavior causes nerve cells in the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain involved in planning and executing tasks) to communicate in a way that couples liking something with wanting it, in turn driving us to go after it.  That is, this process motivates us to take action to seek out the source of pleasure” (



ADDICTIONS COACHING & COUNSELING supports the mind, body, and spirit behavioral changes necessary to overcome unhealthy living patterns.  It actively promotes health and wellness, healthy and adaptive choices, and reaching one’s full potential.


Colleagues on Addictions…

Dr. Amir Levine

Marijuana and the Adolescent Brain:

Is it safe?

Rev. Lexie Brockway Potamkin, MS

Co-Founder of Principals for Principles

Principals For Principles is a place to get information on marijuana’s effects on the adolescent brain.

Dr. Cali Estes

The Recovery Coach Workbook

The Recovery Coach Workbook is a hands-on companion to the renowned courses taught by The Addictions Academy featuring real-world examples and exercises. As we go through the career of recovery and sober coaching, and working with those who suffer from addiction we meet many types of clients. This workbook has been designed to provide assignments and exercises to our clients, and we hope that we have provided an exercise for every type of client you may have. The exercises in this book have been compiled from the experience of all our coaches, and are exercises that are used on a day to day basis with our clients. The Workbook has been used successfully by numerous individuals, residential recovery programs, out-patient programs, professional recovery coaches, aftercare professionals, counselors, therapists, probation officers, ministries, recovery retreats, sponsors, sober companions, and family members to help them to get a deeper understanding of the disease of addiction, the solution to the problem, and the program of action that promotes change in those challenged by substance abuse.




ACES – Adverse Childhood Experiences Study


There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment.


The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline: If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences.

ACES Questionnaire

Prior to your 18th birthday:

  1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  4. Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  5. Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  7. Was your mother or stepmother: Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  10. Did a household member go to prison? No___If Yes, enter 1 __


Now add up your “Yes” answers: _ This is your ACE Score

Essentially, the higher your score, the higher your risk for chronic disease.


The CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study) uncovered a stunning link between childhood trauma and the chronic diseases people develop as adults, as well as social and emotional problems.  This includes heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes and many autoimmune diseases, as well as depression, violence, being a victim of violence, and suicide.


The CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study

Additional Resources

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
. 877-276-4727 (toll-free)

  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
. 301-443-3860

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
. 301-443-1124

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