New Hope Recovery Center provides safe, supportive specialized addiction treatment to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI) community. We recognize that individuals in the LGBTQI community may not seek out treatment services for fear of rejection or prejudice. You can rest assured that every member of our staff strongly believe in the diversity of the individual and honor their dignity and self worth.

Jeff Zacharias Social Worker of the Year

Jeff Zacharias

The following is an interview of Jeff Zacharias, New Hope Recovery Center President and Clinical Director, by Triggr.

Q&A with Jeff Zacharias, Owner & Psychotherapist at New Hope Recovery Center in Chicago

New Hope Recovery Center is an alcohol and drug rehab treatment center in Chicago that provides Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Outpatient treatment,Aftercare and Individual Psychotherapy Counseling. They also have a LGBTQI-specific addiction treatment program entitled "New Hope With Pride.” Below is a conversation with Jeff Zacharias, the owner and one of the psychotherapists at New Hope.

Tell me a bit about yourself and your counseling background.

I’m the owner, Clinical Director and a counselor at New Hope Recovery Center. We bought New Hope over 6 years ago but I’ve been working in the addiction treatment field since 2005 in inpatient and outpatient settings. I’m an ACSW, LSW and a certified advanced alcohol and drug counselor.

What drew you to working with people in recovery?

This is a second career for me. Before starting in the addition treatment field, I was in marketing and finance. What drew me to change careers was my own experience in recovery - I’m sober 15 years now. When I went to treatment in 2003 as a gay male and having some trauma related to that, I felt like some things in my treatment were missed. So when I went back to school, I had a drive to help people like me. I felt like there was an opportunity to not only help LGBTQI stay sober but to also deal with the trauma associated with being gay. Because I saw that when I was looking for treatment, there really wasn’t anything available targeting people with this mix of needs. So that’s been the biggest driver for me, providing something for this community.

Tell me more about your work with the LGBTQI community in particular.

One thing that is challenging is that there are different treatment needs within the LGBTQI community. Each designation has unique issues with power, sex, gender, identity and we cater our treatment to the needs of the individual. But one commonality within this community is that there is often trauma associated with shame, fear and oppression that a hetereosexual treatment framework doesn’t really touch on. We have have a framework that directly addresses the needs of people in the LGBTQI community. Because for a person struggling, it’s often not about the substance - that’s a symptom of something deeper. Our clinicians are extensively trained in providing a space where we’re going to talk about everything that’s going on in your life rather than only the specifics of substances. We’re going to talk about things that make people uncomfortable like sex, relationships and money. And I think there is something very powerful about being in a safe space where people feel empowered to talk about not just their substances, but their lives.

How has treatment changed in recent years?

The biggest change I’ve seen and that I’ve been passionate about from the beginning is the move away from the idea that 12-step treatment is the only path. New Hope is not a 12-step treatment center. Because being a 12 step treatment center isn't treatment, it’s using a framework and then just forcing people into that framework. I knew from the start of my career that I wanted to integrate more clinical work. I wanted to make sure we were considering all pathways. We were the first treatment center in the Chicago area to host Refuge Recovery meetings. We also brought in SMART Recovery, which was pretty new in Chicago just 5 years ago when we started hosting their meetings. We did get some shit about it because when we started, the 12-step model was so revered and was treated as the only path to recovery. I just don’t believe that 12-step is the only way and many studies since that time have shown this to be true. Plus we know that in the gay community there is so much spiritual abuse. So, many people just don’t want the religious associations common in many 12-step programs.

The other change I’ve observed is the growth of medical assisted treatment. I’ve seen firsthand the value in using MAT to allow people to heal and have some agency in their recovery process. And to that end we’re big believers in harm reduction and so everything we do is geared toward that. We were early leaders in Chicago in supporting MAT as part of our treatment program.

Another change is there is now more recognition of addiction interaction disorder. For a long time, the treatment community didn’t appreciate the complexity of addressing the interactions of multiple disorders. This is one of the reasons we focus on addressing not just the substances, but other mental health needs and behaviors of our clients.

What would you say are the biggest barriers you see to someone starting treatment?

The biggest barrier is often a person’s financial or insurance situation. I really wish there were more options for people that are unfunded or don’t have access to resources, but sadly the options are limited in Illinois.

Another barrier can be people’s mistrust of treatment based on their negative experience with a past provider or based on a general distrust of governmental, social, financial or other systems. In the LGBT community in particular, this distrust comes from a sense that the unique needs of this community aren’t going to be understood, let alone met.

How would you describe New Hope’s care philosophy?

It’s very personal and individualized and feels like a close community. Our groups are kept at only 8 people tops. We also take a holistic approach and treat the whole person - the mind, body and spirit are treated as equal. This ends up meaning that we’re very open and creatively work to find whatever treatment path is going to work for each individual. We have an “all avenues to wellness” approach.

One of the things we tell people when they call us for the first time is to come in and talk to us. We are very open and honest in talking and listening so we can work together to find the right path for each person, even if it’s not New Hope. We’re very ethical in how we approach treatment and never pressure people into any option that isn’t right for them.

Can you describe what a group session in New Hope’s IOP program is like?

First and foremost our job is to have a place that is safe because we know how vulnerable people feel during recovery. Everything you say here is confidential, it’s anonymous and we hold that sacred. In our groups and just generally in our practice, we work hard to help people feel warm, welcomed and cared for. It’s hard to put a finger on why, but one thing we hear time and time again from people that come here is: “it feels better here” and “I feel comfortable here”. I think mostly this is because they have a family of people here that love being here and have our clients’ best interests at heart.

Our groups are engaging and fun. Our clients often tell us they have never laughed so much in treatment. We tailor our groups for the particular people in the group at that time. We are very open to modifying our planned topics based on suggestions from the group members about what they feel they need most at that moment and based on our observations of the group.

And so with groups, I think the best thing I can recommend to someone is to come in and give our program a try, they can just listen. And I can’t think of one time ever where someone came in for their first session and left because they were anxious or uncomfortable.

How much 1:1 counseling does New Hope do with people in the IOP program?

By the nature of us being small, we may not be doing a formal meeting every day, but we all know every client by name and so there is a constant checking in. People may just check in for 15 minutes, but generally there is some 1:1 interaction nearly every day. And then on top of that, we also check in more officially once per week.

Who would you say is a good fit for New Hope’s program? Who tends not to be as good a fit?

I don’t think there are many people that we can’t assist, but there some constraints. We don’t serve people 18 and under, for example. We do also ask that people are sober while they are here and if they aren’t ready to give up their substance of choice, they may not be right for New Hope. But other than that, there really aren’t any barriers.

Do you have an example of a recent patient’s experience at New Hope? What was their background, and how did New Hope work with them?

There are so many examples but I’ll share about one person I just met with today. He had used since he was a teenager and now is in his early 50s, and in that time never had any significant period of sobriety. He’s also HIV positive, is in an open relationship with someone who also has substance issues and has a mentally disabled son. So he never felt there was treatment that could help someone with his complicated background. But he came to New Hope about a year and a half ago after a suicide attempt. He’s been with us since (seeing an individual counselor here), sober the whole time and doing great. He just expanded his business and has undergone meaningful, lasting life changes. He stood out to me since I think he’s really proof that anyone can overcome difficult obstacles and life circumstances, and make a change, and succeed.

LGBT Addiction RecoveryNew Hope Recovery Center is proud to sponsor this year's Chicago Roundup.  The 2016 Chicago Roundup is next weekend, September 9 - Sept 11, 2016 at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL 60613.

There is still time to REGISTER.

The Roundup is a weekend long event of LGBTQIA and allies celebrating recovery and for those interested in finding out what a life of recovery has to offer.

This year's Roundup features  thought-provoking panel discussions, engaging speakers, entertainment and fellowship opportunities to enhance spiritual, emotional and sober life,  It is the perfect opportunity to meet other recovering people from all of the world and make some wonderful new friendships in the process,

Chicago Roundup, Inc. is a volunteer-based organization for the celebration of 12-step recovery from alcohol and drug addiction within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community. It produces engaging events in a safe environment, affording participants the opportunity to have a spiritual awakening.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

New Hope Recovery Center is located in Chicago and offers individualized alcohol and drug addiction treatment in a loving supportive environment.  The New Hope with Pride Program focuses on the needs of LGBTQIA individuals.  Contact New Hope Recovery Center at 888-707- 4673 (HOPE).

Seoul Korea World Conference on Social WorkNew Hope Recovery Center is proud to announce that Jeff Zacharias, our Clinical Director and President, spoke in Seoul, South Korea at the 2016 Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development.  Jeff's discussion was on “Addiction, Mental Health & Trauma in the LGBTQI Community: Providing Hope for an Under-Served Population”.




Today, July 8 Jeff is speaking in Denver at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) National Convention on“How to Erase Stigma in the LGBTQI Community “. 

NCADIn August, you can hear Jeff speak at the National Conference on Addiction Disorders (NCAD) also in Denver.  His talk “Chemsex in the City:  The Intersection of Drugs, Sex, Technology and HIV/AIDS”  will be presented at the conference: August 18-21, 2016.

CCSADAnd later in the year, Jeff is speaking at the Cape Cod Symposium on Addictive Disorders (CCSAD) in Hyannis, MA from September 8-11, 2016.


NAADACAnd at The Association for Addiction Professionals National Conference (NAADAC) in Minneapolis, MN – October 7-11, 2016.



For more information call 888-707-4673(HOPE) or email us at

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center




LGBT Family Acceptance ProjectRecent work by Caitlin Ryan, PhD, ACSW, Director of the Family Acceptance Project, shows that a family’s behavior and actions have long term impact on LGBT children and teens.  Her work has found that LGBT youth from loving, supportive families have drastically fewer suicide attempts and are much less likely to become addicted to drugs and alcohol.  Conversely, LGBT youth who were rejected by family suffer much higher rates of suicide and addiction.

According to the Family Acceptance Project research, there is a staggering difference between the health and wellbeing of LGBT youth who felt supported and those who felt rejected.  Gay and transgender teens who were highly rejected by their parents and caregivers were at very high risk for health and mental health problems when they become young adults (ages 21-25).

Let’s look at some of the findings:

Family Rejection Has Long-Lasting effects

Highly rejected young LGBT people were:

  • More than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide
  • Nearly 6 times as likely to report high levels of depression
  • More than 3 times as likely to use illegal drugs, and
  • More than 3 times as likely to be at high risk for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases

Suicide Attempts:

Use of Illegal Drugs:

LGBT Addiction and rejection

These two images show the serious impact of high levels of family rejection on gay or transgender young adults.  Their parents tried to change who they were. Their parents or caregivers tried to prevent them from being gay or transgender. Or they showed their disappointment or shame in having a gay or transgender child in other ways.

So if you love your child, it is important that your entire family, friends and larger community (such as churches and schools) not subject your child to rejecting behavior, but instead show acceptance and support.  It is also important to stand up for your child and not allow others to reject, bully or act hostile toward your child.

What Behaviors Should a Family Avoid?

According to Dr. Ryan, families should avoid the following behaviors:

  • Hitting, slapping or physically hurting your child because of their LGBT identity
  • Verbal harassing or name-calling because of your child’s LGBT identity
  • Excluding LGBT youth from family and family activities
  • Blocking access to LGBT friends, events & resources
  • Blaming your child when they are discriminated against, harassed or bullied because of their LGBT identity
  • Pressuring your child to be more (or less) masculine or feminine
  • Telling your child that God will punish them because they are gay
  • Telling your child that you are ashamed of them or that how they look or act will shame the family
  • Making your child keep their LGBT identity a secret in the family and not letting them talk about it

What Behaviors Should a Family Embrace For the Long Term Health of Their LGBT Child?

Dr. Ryan found the following family behaviors enhanced the long term health and wellbeing of LGBT children and young adults:

  • Talking with your child or foster child about their LGBT identity
  • Expressing affection when your child tells you or when you learn that your child is gay or transgender
  • Supporting your child’s LGBT identity even though you may feel uncomfortable
  • Advocating for your child when he or she is mistreated because of their LGBT identity
  • Requiring that other family members respect your LGBT child
  • Bringing your child to LGBT organizations or events
  • Talking with clergy and helping your faith community to support LGBT people
  • Connecting your child with an LGBT adult role model to show them options for the future
  • Welcoming your child’s LGBT friends & partners to your home
  • Supporting your child’s gender expression
  • Believing your child can have a happy future as an LGBT adult
You can make a huge difference in an LGBT person's life, by showing them acceptance and demanding that others in their life do the same! 

Acts of acceptance, caring and support can have an enormous impact on an LGBT individual years after they reach adulthood.  LGBT young adults who felt accepted have a more positive future outlook.

LGBT acceptance and health

Please visit the Family Acceptance Project to learn more and to see how you can help LGBT youth in your life and in your area.  As you can see, the stakes are high with long term consequences.  Whether you are a family member or a concerned adult, showing acceptance and support can truly change someone’s life.   The sad statistics of LGBT homeless youth show that up to 40% of homeless youth are LGBT, even though it is estimated LGBT youth make up less than 10% of the population.  These young children and teens are often thrown out of their family homes and need support and acceptance from other than their families, or they will likely face serious lifelong physical and mental health issues.

Please do what you can to help.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center


Jeff Zacharias, President and Clinical Director of New Hope Recovery Center, is mentioned in Jamie Marich's new book, Trauma Made Simple.

According to Jamie: "My wish is that one day, every client with unresolved trauma can have the good fortune to work with someone like Jeff.  The reality is that so many trauma survivors in need of such a therapist with a health, optimistic attitude cannot find this connection."

Jamie discusses trauma in the LGBTQI Community: "There are several major issues connected to the LGBTQI community and trauma that we must consider, especially because the shame quotient can be so high for those presenting for services.  According to my colleague Jeff Zacharias, the owner and director of New Hope Treatment Center, an addiction treatment program that specializes in treating the LGBTQI community of Chicago, every client in their care has some sort of trauma.  This trauma can manifest in multiple layers, from dealing with homophobia, to bullying, to HIV infection and diseases, to dealing with unkindness from other gay people....However, the most intense layer of trauma that he [Jeff] tends to see with the LGBTQI population relates to dynamics surrounding family rejection and ostracism."

And Jamie discusses Jeff's advice to therapists:  "Jeff Zacharias, introduced in Chapter 5, believes we must encounter our biases about sexuality and strive to educate ourselves about experiences for which we have no personal frame of reference.  Jeff has declared, 'It's not enough to be tolerant; we have to be fully accepting of who people are if we are serious about helping them with recovery.  You've got to dig in, do your own work, examine your biases, and learn.'"

New Hope Recovery Center and Jeff Zacharias appreciate Jamie and her wonderful book, Trauma Made Simple.  You can order her book now.

Its that time again for Chicago’s only LGBTQ recovery weekend. It begins August 15th and continues until August 17th at the Center on Halsted. Chicago Roundup, Inc. is a volunteer-based organization for the celebration of 12-step recovery from alcohol and drug addiction within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community. This organization produces engaging events in a safe environment, affording participants the opportunity to have a spiritual awakening.

The Main Event - We Can Go Anywhere

  • Is a weekend-long gathering of LGBT’s celebrating recovery and those interested in finding out what a life of recovery has to offer.
  • Provides thought-provoking panel discussions, engaging speakers, pure entertainment and fellowship opportunities intended to enhance your spiritual, emotional and sober life.
  • Offers the perfect opportunity to meet other recovering people from all of the world and make some wonderful new friendships in the process.
  • Is hosted in the heart of Boystown at the largest LGBT Community Center in the Midwest, Chicago’s state-of-the-art Center on Halsted.
  • Begins on Friday, August 15th and ends on Sunday, August 17th, 2014.

This collection of so many different experiences and perceptions makes our own recovery that much stronger.

Go to the Chicago RoundUp registration page to for further details and to register for this serenity filled weekend.

New Hope Recovery Center is the presenting sponsor this year, and we couldn't be more proud to help support such a wonderful organization.

New Hope Recovery Center is an alcohol and drug rehab treatment center located in Chicago, IL. We provide Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Outpatient, and Aftercare. We also have a LGBTQI specific addiction treatment program entitled "New Hope With Pride.” We offer personalized, holistic treatment by examining the whole person: mind, body and spirit. Our small intimate setting caters to your specific needs and we provide place of support, nurture and safety leading to hope and healing.
We believe length of treatment directly impacts the chances for long-term recovery. For this reason we offer a variety of levels of care to better equip an individual to create the life they desire. Our caring and experienced clinical staff provides the emotional, physical and spiritual healing necessary to identify the core issues that underlie the addiction and in turn create an extraordinary life of productive, balanced sober living. 
For more information about New Hope Recovery Center please contact us at 773-883-3916 or check out our website

LGBT addictionWe previously discussed the first step in the process of coming out, self acceptance.  Once someone accepts that they are in fact LGBTQ, they are then faced with a situation that no other group of people faces…how, when, where and to whom do they disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity?  Most people in our society have a default setting which assumes the people around them are straight.  This is an example of heterosexism and it is the reason an LGBTQ person constantly questions whether and when they should come out to those around them.  Most people have numerous groups of people to come out to.  There are friends to consider, co-workers, fellow students, family members, relatives, friends, and acquaintances and within each group there are subgroups.  This can be overwhelming and stressful to think about.  As we discussed previously, the stress an LGBTQ person faces around coming out can lead to heavy use of alcohol or drugs and addiction.

A person’s identity as LGBTQ begins to form before the decision is made to come out or not.  The more developed someone is in their LGBTQ identity, the more likely they are to disclose themselves to others.  Simply stated, the more comfortable someone is with their authentic self, the easier it is for them to come out to others.

Once someone accepts themselves as LGBTQ, remaining in the closet forces them to live a double life, hiding who they truly are and how they feel from other people.  This secrecy is exhausting, stressful and lonely.  A life of concealment keeps one from truly connecting to others, because no one knows the real you.

Stress and Risks of Coming Out

Feelings of shame often keep the LGBTQ person from sharing their true selves. They often hear that they are bad, or evil or unworthy.  Fortunately, things are changing.  Over 53% of Americans support marriage equality.  But reading and hearing the daily news show that the acceptance is far from universal.

People may withhold the decision to come out to others because of the risk of rejection, fear of physical harm, discrimination, harassment, and a desire to protect loved ones from the stress of coming out.  It is not a coincidence that many of the LGBTQ clients struggling with addiction also struggle with some aspect of coming out.  Either they came out and faced one of the risks listed above, or they are frozen in fear that one of those risks might result if they were to tell others.  It is very common to hear about people struggling with addiction who have compartmentalized their life in an effort to hide certain aspects about themselves from others because of shame.

Some project their own anxiety and shame onto their loved ones as a justification for not coming out to those loved ones.   For example, my fear during my closeted years was always that others could not adjust to my uniqueness but really it was me who never gave myself a chance.  As a result I developed a false self to live up to the perceived expectations of my family and society so I would not hurt myself or let others down.  Yes there is a lot of risk associated with the very brave decision to come out but the other side has unlimited potential.  Giving yourself the opportunity to be your unique, honest, and authentic self is one of the most empowering experiences you can do in your life.  Coming out does not guarantee it but it provides the opportunity and there are people who are willing to help you reach that place of authenticity.

The Coming Out Process Never Ends

There is a myth about the coming out experience: that it is this milestone event and then after that the individual is in the clear.  However, this is not the case and the decision to come out is a lifelong, almost daily process that LGBTQ individuals are faced with.  Social contexts and an individual’s environment are constantly evolving and therefore decision whether or not to disclose one’s identity to others is constantly being made.

Even once one comes out to some people in a certain group, there is the stress of wondering who else in the group has been told.  For example, coming out to close coworkers can lead one to wondering who those coworkers have told.  There becomes an uneasy wondering of “do they know”.  Because a person’s sexuality is only part of who they are, it would seem forced and strange to start every conversation with “By the way, I am gay”.

Pride Month is a time to raise awareness of the issues those in the LGBT community have and reach out to others who feel alone.  Holding onto shame is a lonely place.  Healing occurs from hearing other people’s experiences. New Hope Recovery Center offers the New Hope With Pride Program for those struggling with any aspect of addiction and LGBTQ-related stressors.  For more information please visit our website New Hope Recovery Center, call us at 888-707-4673, or email us at

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

LGBT AddictionDid you know there is an increased risk for substance abuse and addiction for those LGBTQ individuals who are dealing with any stage of the coming out process?

What is Coming Out?

Many people don’t understand what is involved in coming out (disclosing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity).  Most envision it to be like walking through one doorway, a single time.  But it is far from that simple.  Maybe for a few celebrities who can come out in a national publication, it only involves one disclosure or interaction, but for most LGBTQ individuals, coming out is a life-long process repeated again and again. This process can be filled with stress and anxiety as the LGBTQ person contemplates who it is safe to come out to and when.

The decision to come out is one of the defining moments in an LGBTQ person’s life.  Let’s look at what is involved in coming out, how an LGBTQ individual may feel or think during the process and why LGBTQ individuals are susceptible to risks of addiction and substance abuse.

Understanding Oneself Requires Understanding Our Culture

For many LGBTQ people, based on the world they see around them, they only know one way in which it is ok to live, and that is heterosexual.  The dream they have heard since infancy is to fall in love with the opposite sex, get married, have children, and live happily ever after.   But LGBTQ people grow up feeling different.  They know they don’t quite fit in, something seems off and they sense it is them.  They often feel less than others.  They believe, and are often told by those who are close to them, that being straight is how their lives are supposed to be.

Many LGBTQ individuals feel as if they should be like everyone else.  Not fitting in, struggling to fit in and even trying to understand how they think and feel can lead to feelings of deep shame.   Many spend years hiding and denying they are LGBTQ from everyone, including themselves.  Being LGBTQ can be so foreign to them that they don’t have a way to understand who they are.

Our society is very much oriented toward heterosexuality, it is a given.  So young LGBTQ often don’t have a concept of anything other than heterosexuality.  Fortunately TV, movies, books and public discussion about LGBT rights are changing this.  But it is a slow change.  And growing up feeling and thinking differently from everyone else can be lonely.  It can also be tragic.  Suicide among Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual teens is 4 times higher than non-LGBT teens. Bullying (9 out of 10 LGBT teens report being bullied in the past year at school because of sexual orientation), gay-bashing, discrimination (it is legal to discriminate against LGBT individuals in 29 states), violent anti-gay hate crimes (including murder) are still happening around the country.  Is it any wonder LGBTQ individuals struggle with accepting their sexuality or their true gender?

Why Come Out?

For someone who is questioning their sexuality or gender identity, the first person they have to be honest with is themselves.  Not being your true self leaves you susceptible to low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide.

So, the first step in coming out is to come out to oneself internally, accepting one’s own sexuality or gender.  Although this may seem to be an easy thing, it is usually not. There are many pressures on LGBTQ individuals to not fully accept themselves as being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.  Bullying, fear of being harmed or killed, fear of being disowned by family and friends and fear of discrimination are all real possibilities for many.  It can often seem easier to deny a part of themselves instead of facing these consequences.  However, denying one’s true self leads to an incredible amount of stress, anxiety and additional fear.  If we are not ourselves, we cannot form real relationships because we know the relationship is not based on our real selves.

The benefits to truly being oneself outweigh all the real and imagined risks of being LGBTQ.  However, when someone is struggling with self-acceptance, the potential risks and consequences of coming out can seem enormous.  For those struggling with sexuality or gender identity, it can be helpful to read what others have experienced.  There are a number of great books on the subject of coming out, including the classic “Coming Out: An Act of Love” by Rob Eichberg.

And one final reason to come out: It Gets Better.  It really does.  Truly being oneself is worth the risks.  Thanks to Dan Savage and Terry Miller for creating the “It Gets Better” videos and book.  They have brought real awareness to the issue of coming out and bullying and have provided inspiration to millions.

It is important to realize that the period of coming out prior to full self-acceptance can be very lonely and very stressful.  Many LGBT individuals turn to drugs or alcohol to ease the pain and suffering they are experiencing.  To help these individuals with their addiction, most find it best to seek an addiction treatment program that understands and caters to the unique needs of LGBTQ persons.  New Hope Recovery Center’s “New Hope With Pride”, is such a program.  You can reach us at 888-707-4673 or


You may also be interested in reading: Addiction Recovery and Self Esteem

Sex addiction is a term that’s becoming more and more prevalent in all aspects of the addiction community.  A spirited debate as to whether there’s even such a thing as sexual addiction has been developing for some time now. “People can’t be addicted to sex – it’s just what people do” is often heard, while on the other hand, there are people that apply the same definition of addiction to alcohol and/or drugs to that of sex.  There’s no way to deny that someone who has difficulty controlling their sexual urges, behaviors and/or thoughts will see a progression of their symptoms leading to negative consequences in their lives.  For sex addicts, there are levels to the severity of the addiction and these are a good indication of the type of treatment that is needed. There are three levels of sex addiction.

Level One:  Some of the behaviors listed may exist in someone without a sex addiction, but when acted upon compulsively, is considered level one of sex addiction. There’s no doubt that these can be devastating when done compulsively.

Chronic Masturbation

Affairs, chronic infidelity, love and romance addiction

Sexual relationships with multiple partners

Pornography use and collection (with or without masturbation)

Phone sex, cybersex

Anonymous sex

Going to strip clubs


Level Two:  A common theme among these behaviors listed are that of someone being victimized.  There are also legal consequences to these actions which is a primary difference between Level One and Level Two behaviors.


Public sex – bathrooms, parks, etc.

Voyeurism – online or live



Stalking behaviors

Sexual harassment


Level Three:  These are behaviors in which there are significant boundary violations culturally and legally.


Child molestation

Obtaining/viewing child pornography

Obtaining/viewing rape/snuff pornography

Sexual abuse of older or dependent persons


Professional boundary violations (clergy, therapists, teachers, doctors)

Want more information about sex or love addiction? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below: 

Sex, Love and Relationship Addiction  Love and relationship addiction are part of the behavioral or process addictions.  Like its cousins, food addiction, sex addiction, gambling addiction, shopping and spending addiction, love addiction describes a set of behaviors and emotions that slowly progress and become unmanageable, often leaving an affected person depressed and suicidal.  In a society that glorifies love and romance, it is often difficult to know when one has crossed the line and is trapped in the undertow of this subtle but damaging process addiction.

Warning Signs of Sex Addiction Are you wondering if you or a loved one is addicted to sex?  It is not always easy to determine what are healthy sexual behaviors and what constitutes sexual addiction or obsession.  The following are warning signs that could suggest sexual addiction.  Any one of these is not necessarily indicative of an addiction, however the more that apply show a greater possibility of sex addiction.
Stay tuned to learn about the 10 types of sex addiction. Sex addiction can be difficult to understand for some, but there are people who can help. If you or someone you know is engaging in these behaviors and would like to discuss treatment options, please call New Hope Recovery Center at 773-883-3916 and we will help in finding the proper treatment.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

Methamphetamine (meth or crystal meth) is considered one of the world’s most addictive drugs. Why is it so addictive?  To really understand the addictive power of crystal meth, it is helpful to understand the drug and how it works on the human brain and body.

What does Crystal Meth do?

Methamphetamine is a stimulant that creates incredibly positive, euphoric, pleasurable, alert feelings over a prolonged period of time (several hours). The user often feels that everything around them is interesting, exciting and wonderful (including the user). Users often feel overly self confident and less self-conscious than when they are in a sober state.

Crystal Meth creates a stimulant action by acting on nerves that secrete biogenic amines.  The main effects of crystal meth involve these amines:

  • Histamine is a neurotransmitter (neurotransmitters are chemicals that pass information from one brain cell to another) that mediates arousal and attention
  • Serotonin is a central nervous system (brain and spinal chord) neurotransmitter involved in regulating mood, sleep, appetite, and sexuality
  • Norepinephrine (noradrenaline) is a neurotransmitter involved in sleep and wakefulness and attention; it is also a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands
  • Epinephrine (adrenaline) is another adrenal stress hormone and a neurotransmitter that stimulates the “fight or flight” response
  • Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in motivation, reward, addiction, reinforcement

When used, meth causes the body and brain to be flooded with these amines.  Because methamphetamine blocks the body’s ability to take in these biogenic amines, the amines stay in the body.  Normally, these amines are only used as an immediate trigger and then they are either stored or broken down.  This is the reason that meth lasts so long in the body.

In the heart, noradrenaline stimulates the heart to beat faster and stronger, increasing pulse and blood pressure. Body temperature and metabolism increases.  In the brain, the amines increase alertness, concentration, and energy.  They decrease appetite for food and increase sex drive.  They can also increase paranoia, cause hallucinations and lead to a fascination or compulsion with repetitively performing a specific task.

Meth Mouth is the commonly used name for the deterioration of the teeth and gums from meth use.  The chemicals in meth are very caustic and acidic.  In addition, methamphetamine causes the mouth to become very dry.  Normally, saliva protects teeth and gums from acids, but with decreased salvia, the acid attacks tooth enamel.  Furthermore, users often grind or clench their teeth, which weakens or wears down the teeth.

Crystal meth increases impulsiveness and impairs judgment.  It also heightens the user's desire for sex. For many users compulsive sexual behaviors occur. With the mixture of euphoric/pleasurable feelings and a false sense of self-confidence, this usually leads users to believe that  sex is better on meth. This creates a big problem when users try to stop using because they believe they won’t ever be able to enjoy sex again.

Meth Use

The stages of meth use are often stated to be:

  • The Rush – The initial surge of adrenaline and other amines into the body.  This tends to last about 20-30 minutes.
  • The High – The user feels aggressive, capable, wonderful.  This lasts for several hours.
  • Tweaking – The user may have gone on a binge and used meth for several days, but eventually the drug no longer produces any high because your body's natural supply has run out.  At this point users are said to be tweaking.  The user feels very empty and craves the drug.  They feel a loss of identity.  Intense itching is common:  the user feels as if there are bugs crawling under the skin. The user is often unable to sleep and yet feels exhausted.  Hallucinations are vivid.  The person may be hostile to self or others.
  • The Crash – The user may sleep for several days as the body shuts down to recover.
  • Withdrawal can happen slowly over several months.  (In addition to the more immediate withdrawals during tweaking and crashing, longer term withdrawal also occurs.)  The user becomes depressed, lacks energy and is unable to feel pleasure. The user craves meth and believes (incorrectly) that the only way to experience anything positive or even normal is by using meth.

Effects of Meth Abuse

It is often stated that the lows from a drug are in proportion to its highs.  Meth is no exception.  Meth users may feel wonderful for a time, but there is a price to be paid as the body tries to get back to a reasonable “normal”.

Because the body has been flooded with the amines, it believes it no longer needs to create them.  So it drastically decreases or even ceases to produce the amines naturally. The decrease in amine production lasts much longer than the time meth stays in the body. The longer and more intensely someone has used meth, the more the body’s ability to create the natural amines is affected.

Meth causes the body to release more than 10 times the normal levels of dopamine.  So users feel an incredible euphoria.  But the body believes that far too much dopamine exists, so it cuts production.  Because the body no longer produces its typical levels of dopamine, the lower levels of dopamine lead to feelings of sadness, unhappiness, and depression.    Epinephrine and norepinephrine cause the blood vessels to constrict.  Over time, blood ceases to flow to certain areas of the body.  This leads to lower levels of healing and skin tightening or pulling back (such as the gums pulling away from the teeth).

Meth also affects memory and coordination.  Studies have shown that meth may continue to affect the brain for over a year after last use.  Damage to blood vessels in the brain can lead to strokes.

Heart damage can occur after repeated meth use. Meth artificially stimulates and stresses the heart, permanent damage can result.  In addition, high blood pressure is common among former meth users.

So Why Is Meth So Addictive?

Methamphetamine produces a prolonged sense of well-being and energy.  Many meth users want to feel the initial high they first felt using meth and so reuse meth again, and again.  Also, in contrast to the high it produces, it also produces incredible lows, involving severe depression, fatigue, paranoia and irritability. Finally, because of its impact on the brain, meth causes intense craving for using more meth.  Many early meth users begin to use meth more often as they “chase” the first high they felt using meth.  (This is not attainable because the body adjusts to this initial high, and so it is very unlikely a user approaches the initial feelings attained on first use.)  After repeated uses, many users continue to use meth to avoid the psychological and physical pain caused during meth withdrawal, in effect fighting off the lows.  Finally, the cravings caused by meth use often pull former users back into using even after months or years of sobriety.  These three factors cause meth to be incredibly addictive.

Help for Crystal Meth Addiction

Recovery from crystal methamphetamine is possible. It is hard to do on your own.  There are Crystal Meth Anonymous meetings in many cities which are free of charge. In addition, many treatment centers have developed expertise in treating meth addiction.  New Hope Recovery Center has helped a large number of individuals who were addicted to crystal meth.  You can reach us at 888-707-4673 or  Read more at

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

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