Most people identify the “one and only” problem as in the alcohol/drug abuse, the drug addiction, the pornography compulsion, the sex addiction, the defiance, the depression, or the alcoholism. These are definitely major problems! Once addiction is developed it is an irreversible condition of the brain that the counseling field calls a disease. It is something similar to diabetes and a person must accept their addiction and learn how to live a life that is healthy, balanced, fruitful, and fulfilling. Addictions almost never exist alone, but instead usually are more than one that work in conjunction with each other is some way. One example is when a chemical addition to alcohol, cocaine, or pot that coexists with a process addiction to porn, high risk sex, or video-gaming. When an addiction is present it becomes the immediate and primary focus of therapy.

However, to portray an addiction as THE one and only problem is not only inaccurate but also a setup for relapse and a continued decline in quality of life. Capstone’s therapy approach is based on the premise that there are three aspects of treatment/therapy for every client: (1) the addiction(s) or compulsions (addiction-in-the-making), (2) the psychological-emotional-relational-spiritual problems, and (3) the lack of what we simply call, Inner Strength (which basically refers to the ability to prevail over challenges). These three components work against each other recursively to make the whole worse. The disease of addiction makes their psychological-emotional-relational-spiritual problems escalate and the lack of inner strength hurts their efforts to make good recovery / healing decisions and especially, to stick to them, and so on. Therefore all clients have a treatment plan that identifies the problems in these areas so solutions can be constructed and implemented.

In the Discovery aspect of our program we create a picture that answers the question, “What makes ________ (your son’s name) make sense?”

I’m going to list examples of some answers to that question from clients who have been at Capstone. Remember that many of these scenarios overlap with each other. A simple way of describing this is to just ask the question “Why is he doing this?”

We use the phrase “the drug culture” to describe the big picture of what’s going on in the lives of the boys we work with at Capstone. It is much more than drug use and it can look very different than classic “drug addicts”. If I had used the term “drug culture” in the sixties and seventies it would have been referring to a group of people that were “stoners,” “druggies,” or “pot heads” in their appearance, attitude, and behavior. Today however, the drug culture includes kids from all pieces of the social pie. We’ve had boys who were straight A students, all-state athletes, college scholarship material in athletics or academics, youth group members, preps, country boys, Goths, pot heads, stoners, etc. The behaviors also include much more than drugs and alcohol. Sexual compulsions including pornography and acting out behaviors are almost always coexist. Video gaming, food disorders, and other escape behaviors are also common parts of this culture. Our clients mostly come from Christian homes, so conceptualizing the real problem is more complex than it seems on the surface, because there is a spiritual component to all the above.

What all of our young men have in common is that something has gone wrong in life that has led them down the road to, what we call, The Wasteland of Ruin. All of our clients share some flavor of a Learned Instinct, usually “I am not good enough,” that leads them to this double life and then perpetuates it. Their Learned Instinct, and often their acquired addiction, keeps them there in sort of a downward spiral. In their distorted thinking, their connection to the double life / drug culture is solving problems that they haven’t been able to solve any other way (remember, from their distorted Learned Instinct perspective). As adults, parents and professional therapists, we know that their membership in the drug culture is worsening their problems and creating new ones. One secret to winning this battle is to start with creating doubt in the mind of the client that his problems are solved in the drug culture and lead him toward a total exposure of the truth.

An addiction or one-in-the-making, will make the following examples “worser,” as one of my coaches used to say, and left unresolved will make relapse to the addiction behavior more likely. In other words they feed off of each other in a negative spiral. These are common answers to the question, “What makes my son’s behavior, attitude, and feelings make sense?” or “Why is he doing this?”


The client has experienced so much rejection or perceived rejection from school, peers, church or family that he feels like a failure or a reject. In the drug culture he can be accepted simply by being in it. The strongest pull of the drug culture is a total absence of rejection and expectation.

Failure Avoidance Theme or Performance Based Acceptance

Our American culture has a performance based acceptance in which the client feels like he can never “perform” good enough so he just quits trying. In the young man’s mind, he’s not good enough; so if he tries, he’ll fail. The result of this thinking is that he ultimately stops trying in order to avoid failure.

Pleasure or Passive Brain

The client has a passive oriented brain and seeks the rise and fall of human emotional experience vicariously. If he has a mood or feeling that he doesn’t like, for instance, boredom, loneliness, hurt, etc., he wants something to take it away and replace it with something pleasant instead of him taking action to change his mood by healthy activity. In other words, he wants the feelings of a full life without the work and activity it takes to get them. This probably began with such extensive amounts of television/video games when he was little that he actually trained his brain to be passive oriented instead of active oriented. He goes to the drug culture to experience the instant gratification in drug/alcohol abuse, sex, pornography, defiance, etc.


The client has something going on in his environment that is so difficult for him to deal with that he runs to the drug culture to escape. This includes difficulties in the school, home, extended family, church, and neighborhood environments that make the situation so difficult that, in his mind, he needs to escape. Of course, this is based on his perception, which may or may not be factual in reality but is how he is experiencing his environment.


The client has lived such a life of overindulgence that unless he is having sensationally fun experiences, he is bored to death. This usually happens because good intentioned parents, with the noble goal of giving their children more than they had, have provided experiences and/or things that are aimed at creating a world of constant happiness for their child. This stimulates the pleasure center or dopamine neurotransmitter sites and actually trains the brain to seek out this feeling. Since that feeling happened because of what was given to him or provided for him, he didn’t learn how to kill boredom without instant gratification.

I Am Bad or Shame

Research shows that approximately 90% of adults with addictions have experienced trauma earlier in life. In America today, one study reported one out of five boys is sexually abused by the age of 15. Early exposure to pornography produces some of the same side effects as being sexually abused. The Learned Instinct that develops, their core belief about self, to some degree or another, is that “I am bad, dirty, unworthy, unlovable, so the only place I belong is in the drug culture.”


The client has experienced pain in his life from the death of a parent, sibling, or close relative or friend; the divorce of his parents; physical or sexual abuse; isolation from moving too much; etc. The drug culture offers multiple avenues of pain relief.


We’ve worked with a lot of boys who were adopted. They were all adopted by parents who chose them and love them. However, the fact remains that their birth parents gave them up for adoption. Relinquishment is a major wound. In the mind of an adopted child, the only reason a birth parent would give their baby away is that the baby is not worth keeping. Thus the Learned Instinct “Since I’m rejectable, I must be a reject.” There are multiple other scenarios from which a rejection theme can develop. The drug culture has a large population of people who believe they are rejects.

Sexual Pleasure

Many boys have their first drug-like experience in their brains when they masturbated to pornography, where the burst of dopamine release mirrors the dopamine release in drug use. When the boy gets to adolescence, he can get that same dopamine release with sex. The drug culture provides more opportunity for sex more than any other place on earth.

There are other answers and combinations of answers, but these will give you an idea. One of the strengths of Capstone is that we have no ego. We don’t care what a client's core issues are; we just care that we discover it. This is vital to successful treatment. His answer to the question, “What makes this make sense?” is already answered before he comes to Capstone. Our job is to expose it and develop a plan to change it.

If you or a loved one would like more information about Capstone Treatment Center, please call us today at 866-729-4479 for a free phone consultation or email

Capstone’s Lasting Approach