Counseling for Addiction & Codependency

Counseling for Addiction

Do you find yourself going out for a beer or a glass of wine and somehow you end up drinking way too much? Or turning food or marijuana too often to relax. Or repeatedly spending money you shouldn't on things you don't need, and getting upset when the bills arrive? Or looking at pornography even though you promised your spouse that you would stop?

Do you tell yourself that this will be the last time - and then you end up breaking that promise to yourself again and again?

Many people turn to alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, sex and social media to relax or to cope. Life is stressful and these are common ways that we comfort ourselves, distract ourselves from our feelings, or numb out. But when we find we are having trouble setting limits on those behaviors, and when those behaviors start impacting our lives or relationships in negative ways, there is a problem.

It can be confusing to determine if a comforting behavior has become an addiction. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Loss of Control - Do I frequently engage in these behaviors to a greater extent or over a longer period of time then intended?

  • Compulsion - Is there a repetitive pattern of engaging in these behaviors that has become difficult to resist? 

  • Unsuccessful Efforts to Stop -  Have there been repeated, failed attempts to stop engaging in these behaviors?

  • Loss of Time - Do I find I am spending significant amounts of time engaging in or recovering from these behaviors?

  • Preoccupation - Do I find myself obsessively thinking about the next time I can engage in these behaviors?

  • Interference with other Obligations - Do these behaviors interfere with my work, school, family, or social involvements?

  • Continuation despite Consequences - Have I continued these behaviors despite clear negative repercussions socially, financially, psychologically, legally, or physically?

  • Loss of Other Involvements - Have I limited or given up valued parts of my life such as hobbies, family time or work due to these behaviors?

  • Escalation - Have I needed to increase the intensity, frequency, amount or risk of these behaviors to achieve the desired effect?

  • Withdrawal - Do I experience distress, anxiety, restlessness or irritability if I am unable to engage in these behaviors?

If these questions raise concern for you or a loved one, it makes sense to speak to a professional who can help you assess the situation and create a plan to address the problem. For some, learning to be with our emotions and developing skills to self soothe in more adaptive ways may be all it takes to get a handle on things. 

For others, individual therapy can help you look beneath the surface and get to the root of the problem. You can learn to identify, express and manage your emotions, observe and change negative thought patterns, and come to terms with deeper issues that may be driving the unwanted behaviors.  

Still others may need more support and find comfort and community in 12-step recovery groups, which offer a format to help people accept their problem and take specific steps to get better, with support from others who have been there too.

I have many years of experience working with people with these issues and would be happy to help you evaluate your needs and get on the right path to a more balanced and healthier life.

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"At a very difficult point in my life, I knew I needed some sort of help. I found Dr. Zwerdling to be an extremely effective therapist. His expertise in both marital relationships and alcohol dependence were most beneficial. His innate kindness and patience helped me to relax and explore difficult areas of my life. He was always available for appointments and returned phone calls promptly."

"I am writing this for those who, like myself, feel trapped, lost, desperate and full of fear about their actions and confused about what is going on with them... My road to recovery was not an easy one but the Doctor gave me the understanding of my problem and action plan for a recovery that I enjoy each day.  He gained my confidence and trust quickly.  This enabled us to work together toward a clearly defined recovery.  My time and effort here is to encourage you to address your fear and find a happiness beyond your imagination.  Call him.  You will not regret it." 

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Counseling for Codependency

People with codependency have low self-esteem and have trouble saying no to others. They typically put others first, so much so, that their own needs are often neglected and unmet.  They may worry that saying "no" or advocating for themselves could ruin a relationships or lead to being abandoned.

People with codependency are often "people pleasers" who end up in relationships in which they care-take others who may have issues with addiction or irresponsibility. Although their intentions are good, they typically get too caught up in the other person's life and issues, and can end sacrificing their own needs and losing themselves.

People with codependency focus on other people to gain a sense of self-worth and self-esteem, and look to others for validation and security. As such, many times they stay in one-sided relationships which leave them feeling helpless and victimized.  These relationships can become unhealthy and emotionally destructive.

Some characteristics common to people with codependency are - 


  • Feeling of low self-esteem and inadequacy.  

  • People pleasing and difficulty setting boundaries.

  • Often feeling taken advantage of.

  • Doubting your own judgment and emotions.

  • Disregarding your own needs.

  • Feeling overly responsible for others.

  • Trying to control the behavior of others.

  • Trouble expressing your true feelings.

  • Feelings of guilt and shame.

  • Seeking approval from others to feel good about yourself.

  • Difficulty asking for help.


Because codependency is usually rooted in a person’s childhood, counseling often involves exploration into early childhood issues and their connection to current emotions and behaviors. I help people get in touch with feelings that may have been buried for a long time, and look carefully at the dynamics of their family of origin.

Many people find that they grew up with unhealthy messages about emotions, communication, responsibility, self-direction, assertiveness and boundary setting. They may have developed survival strategies to deal with family dysfunction, ways of coping that were adaptive at the time but are no longer working for them. These old strategies can interfere with healthier ways of living today.

By focusing on family of origin issues we can uncover those old, negative beliefs and understand where they came from.  We can focus on your "inner child", the part of you that was harmed by those early messages and experiences, and begin a process of healing.  We can repair and enhance your self-esteem, and empower you to discover your authentic self.

Through therapy, you can come to accept yourself and love yourself in a new way, that will help you let go of the old unhealthy patterns of behavior, improve your relationships, and find greater joy and vitality in your life. 

  "Dr. Zwerdling helped me through a difficult time when I was struggling with issues of self worth. During that time my best friend moved 2,000 miles away, my boyfriend broke up with me, my mom got sick, and my dad passed away. During those very dark days, he was there consistently and gave me the strength and coping tools to get through it all. I don't know where I would be today or even if I would be at all without him." 

Dr. Alan Zwerdling's private office serves all of Monmouth County & the Jersey Shore, including Red Bank, Middletown, Shrewsbury, Rumson, Navesink, Fair Haven, Little Silver, Holmdel, Colts Neck, Ocean Township, Lincroft, Marlboro, Manalapan, Oceanport, Monmouth Beach, Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Manasquan, Oakhurst, Eatontown, Tinton Falls, and West Long Branch.