Addiction Specialist

Addiction is a lifelong illness that affects your psychological, emotional, social, and physical well-being. Robert Jaffe, Ph.D, LMFT, is an experienced psychotherapist specializing in addiction treatment, including alcohol, substance abuse, and process addictions such as gambling and sex. At his office in Encino, California, Dr. Jaffe takes a patient-centered approach to therapy, customizing care that best meets your needs. For expert addiction therapy, call the office or schedule an appointment online today.

Addiction Q&A

Addiction is an uncontrollable urge or compulsion to use substances or engage in unhealthy activities despite the potential harm they may cause. Addiction is a chronic disease that can affect anyone.

About 20 million people in the United States have a substance use disorder, an addiction to substances that increase dopamine levels in the brain. These include opioids, alcohol, and nicotine.

Though substance use disorder is common, there are also process addictions, known as behavioral addictions, such as:

  • Gambling
  • Sex
  • Exercise
  • Eating
  • Shoplifting
  • Video gaming

Dr. Jaffe specializes in addiction therapy for both substance use disorder and process addictions.

Symptoms of addiction vary. Some people hide their addiction, while others experience severe symptoms such as:

  • Uncontrollable urge to use the substance or engage in harmful activity
  • Intense preoccupation with drug or activity
  • Inability to control the use or negative behaviors
  • The need to use more and more to experience euphoria
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Physical or mental health issues
  • Financial problems

You may be aware of your addiction, but you’re unable to stop despite the effects it has on your personal or professional life.

There are several treatments available for addiction, and your treatment may depend on your specific dependence. If you have a substance use disorder, you may benefit from detoxification to assist with withdrawal symptoms.

Additional treatments may include medications to ease compulsions, urges, and underlying mental health problems related to your addiction, such as depression or anxiety.

Therapy is one of the most critical pieces of addiction treatment. Dr. Jaffe is an expert in addiction therapy and can provide the support and tools you need to understand your addiction, gain a new perspective, and develop healthy behaviors.

You can expect patient-centered and compassionate care from Dr. Jaffe when you come in for addiction therapy. During your first session, he lets you do all the talking; he wants to hear your story.

Dr. Jaffe talks to you about your addiction and makes recommendations about the needed areas of focus. He then works with you to develop a treatment plan. Dr. Jaffe takes an individualized approach to addiction therapy, customizing care that best meets your needs.

Addiction is a disease that requires ongoing medical and mental health care. Call the office of Robert Jaffe, Ph.D, LMFT, or schedule an appointment online today.

Treatment for Addiction – Dr. Jaffe Can Help

Seeking therapy is the most important first step in overcoming a substance use disorder. I am confident that we can work together to overcome the dependence and help you live a life where you feel free from the substance.

As trauma is commonly linked to substance use, as a therapist I use trauma-informed care to increase feelings of safety and decrease potential triggers that may be related to the trauma. If you tend to respond severely to particular situations or stimuli, we can discuss this over the phone or email to reduce the chance of this interfering with participation in therapy.

I use a multi-method approach to treatment of substance use symptoms. I draw from Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help people manage negative thoughts and feelings or thoughts that you feel stuck in connected to your addiction. CBT is one of the most effective treatments for substance use disorders (Hides, Samet, & Lubman, 2010). I also utilize other treatment techniques, such as Gestalt, psychodynamic, and hypnosis to help you overcome your symptoms.

Treatment for a substance disorder begins with a detailed interview process where we identify the symptoms and any related mental health concerns. This is where we discuss your life’s story which helps me truly understand you on a deeper level. Your treatment would be informed by your goals and desires for therapy.

“At the bottom of every person’s dependency, there is always pain, Discovering the pain and healing it is an essential step in ending dependency.” ― Chris Prentiss, The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure

Drugs and alcohol are commonplace in American culture. Here in southern California, many people struggle with dependency on a substance to cope with their stress, anxiety, and depression. As the dependency increases, people become trapped in a vicious cycle of substance abuse.

You do not have to continue to be a slave to your addiction.

Substance abuse affects many people in the United States, and California is no different. It can be difficult to live a functional life when a substance is at the center of it. Substance abuse can begin for a variety of reasons, but is usually carried on because of the effect the substances have on the brain. It is also common for those struggling with substance abuse to have experienced a traumatic event in the past (Giordano et al., 2016). Substances can provide a temporary escape from the difficulties in life, but the long-term health effects outweigh the short-term benefits.

There is better way to get through the hard times, and I am here to help.

The prevalence of substance abuse reaches far and wide. In 2014 an estimated 21.5 million American adults were struggling with a substance use disorder (American Addiction Centers, 2017). Although there is a biological factor involved in substance use disorders, addiction is treatable. The process of treatment is difficult, and relapse is common (American Addiction Centers, 2017). However, recovery can lead to a restoration of previous functioning and life satisfaction.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (5th Edition) separates the substance use disorders into categories based upon the type of substance and the severity of the symptoms. Some overall symptoms of substance use disorder include:

  • Continual use of a substance despite significant issues related to the substance
  • Using increasing amounts of the substance over time (Tolerance)
  • Intense cravings for the substance
  • Functional impairment in major areas of life (e.g. work, school, family, social) as a result
  • Withdrawal as a result of decreased use of the substance

These symptoms can make it very difficult to function. Left untreated, dependence can lead to sacrifices being made in other aspects of life: marriage, work, friendships, and aspirations. You can take steps to ensure that you can take back control of your life.

There are four aspects of life that have been shown to promote recovery including (McGaffin, Deane, Kelly, Ciarrochi, 2015):

  • Physical and emotional health
  • A safe residence or place to call home
  • Purpose and fulfilling activities
  • A support system and community

You can move closer to recovery as we work together to solidify the parts of your life that will make recovery attainable for you.

Alcoholism is a disease of the whole person.” ― Maurice Gelinas, How to Overcome Alcoholism

Do you always have to have a drink? Is it keeping you from living the life you want?

I can help.

In the United States, alcohol is the most abused of all the addictive substances (American Addiction Centers, 2017). Alcohol use disorders are incredibly prevalent in America, with 12-month prevalence for adults at 8.5% of the population (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Alcohol abuse can lead to risky behaviors as the brain’s ability to make judgments is decreased (Fein & Cardenas, 2015). This can lead to the user making poor decisions and behaving in ways he/she may regret.

Alcoholism may be common, but it can be deadly. Alcohol abuse is the third highest cause of death as a result of preventable behaviors in the United States ( Alcohol abuse is genetically influenced, and the brain’s reward centers begin to rely on alcohol when it is consistently used in excess (Fein & Cardenas, 2015). We can work together to help rewire your brain so that you can live a more fulfilling life.

“Addiction isn’t about using drugs. It’s about what the drug does to your life.” ― Enock Maregesi

Are you always searching for the next high? Is it keeping you from doing what’s important to you?

Marijuana has been legal for recreational use in California since 2016, and for medical use since 1996. Cannabis has not been legalized federally, yet it is the most used of all of the illegal drugs in the United States (Hughes, Naud, & Budney, 2016). Some of the symptoms of marijuana use include relaxation, memory impairment, and heightened appetite ( Just as alcohol can affect the brain on a chemical level, cannabis can affect the way the brain functions.

If this is you, I can help.

“I was snorting a lot of cocaine and I had lost myself to a great degree. A lot of people, everybody was starting to realize what the coke was all about and they were all starting to get lost.” ―George Jung

Do you need to use meth or cocaine to feel energetic enough to take on the day? Is using this drug becoming a problem that you can’t escape? Do you want to stop relying on these drugs to get through the day? Are you afraid of the risks, but unable to stop using?

You are not alone.

Stimulants are commonly used in the treatment of many medical disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) but are also used outside of medical settings Stimulants can cause users to feel alert, attentive, and energetic, which draws many people to continually use them (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2017). The two stimulants that are commonly used are cocaine as well as methamphetamines. Used chronically, illegal stimulants such as meth can destroy brain tissue and disrupt neurotransmitters from working properly (see Buxton & Dove, 2008).

Although the health risks of these drugs are well known, many people who use these substances feel powerless and unable to overcome their dependency.

I can help you move closer to freedom from dependency.

“No one is immune from addiction; it afflicts people of all ages, races, classes, and professions.” ―Patrick J. Kennedy

Do you have to have your bottle of pills with you to get through your day? Is this something that you have to hide from others, and wish you could stop doing? Over-the-counter (OTC) medication is as convenient as it is possibly dangerous for those who have an addiction to a drug that can be easily accessed. There are many types of drugs that have a variety of effects on the user. I t is common to believe that OTC medications are safer than prescription drugs, but this is not always the case (Cooper, 2013).

The most commonly abused OTC drugs include:

  • Stimulants
  • Laxatives
  • Dissociative substances
  • Sedatives
  • Painkillers

It can be much less risky to attain OTC medications than illicit drugs, as they are available at most stores and do not require a prescription. This makes ending an addiction difficult because the access is better than for other drugs. Even though these drugs are more readily accessed, they can still affect the brain of the user and can cause functional impairment if they are used in excess. OTC addiction is serious and necessitates treatment.

If you want to end your days carrying around OTC medications to get through the day, I can assist you in getting there.

“It is easy to get a thousand prescriptions but hard to get one single remedy.” ―Chinese Proverb

Have you become excessively using your prescription medication? Is it making it difficult to function in your daily life?

Prescription drugs have a high rate of abuse in the United States. Painkillers were rated as the most abused prescription drug in 2014, which may be because many of them are opiates (American Addiction Centers, 2017). Opiates are highly addictive, and it is very difficult to break this addiction.

The most commonly abused prescription drugs include (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2017):

  • Opioids (for pain)
  • Central Nervous System Depressants (for anxiety and sleep issues)
  • Stimulants (for ADHD and narcolepsy)

It can be risky to continue with a prescription drug addiction because a provider must prescribe the drug that is necessary, and it is illegal to take prescription drugs outside of the doctor’s instructions.

You don’t have to continue living at risk like this.

Therapy will help you learn how to:

  • Construct goals in your recovery process

  • Learn skills to help decrease substance use

  • Cope with symptoms that occur when substance use is decreased

  • Improve your functionality across the domains of your life

  • Connect with a support system to aid in your recovery

I believe that you have the power to make real changes to your life. You do not have to let a substance dictate how you are living your life.


Buxton, J. A., & Dove, N. A. (2008). The burden and management of crystal meth use. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 178(12), 1537-1539.

Cooper, R. J. (2013). Over-the-counter medicine abuse – a review of the literature. Journal of Substance Use, 18(2), 82-107.  

Fein, G. F., Cardenas, V. A. (2015). Neuroplasticity in human alcoholism. Alcohol Research: Current News, 37(1), 125-141.

Giordano, A. L. et al. (2016). Addressing trauma in substance abuse treatment. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 60(2), 55-71.

Hides, L., Samet, S., & Lubman, D. I. (2010). Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for the treatment of co-occurring depression and substance use: Current evidence and directions for future research. Drug & Alcohol Review, 29, 508-517. 

Hughes, J. R., Naud, S., & Budney, A. J. (2016). Attempts to stop or reduce daily cannabis use: An intensive natural history study. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 30(3), 389-397.

McGaffin, B. J., Deana, F. P., Kelly, P. J., & Ciarrochi, J. (2015). Flourishing, languishing and moderate mental health: Prevalence and change in mental health during recovery from drug and alcohol problems. Addiction Research & Theory, 23(5), 351-360.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). Prescription Drugs and Cold Medicines. Retrieved from

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2017). Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved from

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