Statistics show that 85 out of every 100 people either personally struggle with or know someone who struggles from addiction
I recently had the privilege to speak at TEDxAndrews on “Why Addiction Is Everyone’s Disease”.
We all have compulsive behaviors we use as a coping mechanism when we feel stressed, tired, angry, happy, nervous etc.. Examples of these behaviors might be nail-biting, overspending, underspending, overeating, drinking, drugging, worrying, smoking, pornography, video gaming, working, gambling, etc..
The difference between a compulsive behavior and addiction is the ability to control the use. Compulsive behaviors can become an addiction when the use is causing you relationships, health, legal, and/or financial problems. Once an addiction, these compulsive behaviors take over and become unmanageable.
There are different types of addictions. In addition to the chemical/substance addictions (drugs and alcohol) that most of us are familiar with, there are process addictions which are behaviors. Addictions develop from these compulsive behaviors that we often use to deal with stress, sadness, loneliness, abandonment, trauma, mental health diagnosis, etc.. In chemical and process addictions, the behaviors or substance has taken control of our lives and the conscious “choice” to use has been impaired.
The brain cannot differentiate between the physical or emotional pain and it will remedy the discomfort by any available means. When there is physical pain like a headache, we take a pain reliever. Emotional pain is more elusive and harder to identify which makes it hard to treat and heal.
What is the root of addiction?
Surprise, addiction is not the problem, it is a solution. Addiction is the solution to numb physical and emotional pain. Where does this emotional pain come from? Emotional pain comes from trauma and unprocessed emotions. Which we often are ill equipped to identify and treat on our own. We are seeking a an external solution to an internal problem.
An analogy of using addiction to treat emotional trauma is like using duct tape to heal an open and oozing burn wound. A wound will not heal by using duct tape and, to make matters worse, it would likely become infected without the necessary treatment and exposure to air it needs to heal. Like an addiction, the wound infection spreads to what once was healthy skin and creates a larger necrotic problem. Now think about that same wound and how with appropriate wound care as well as air applied to it would heal the wound. While it may leave a scar when it heals the skin would heal and the scar would be smaller than if we tried to cover it up and not expose the wound.
To heal from addiction, people must be allowed the freedom to share their experiences, to expose the wounds, and deal with its root cause. If you do not heal the trauma wound from the inside out, addiction relapse is almost always inevitable. Maintaining sobriety is exponentially more difficult.
People suffering from addiction have amazing qualities. They tend to have high IQ’s, and high EQ’s. They are sensitive to the emotions and energy of others. Simply stated they experience the world differently. They had to learn to do that to find relief from the traumatic events in their past. What may be traumatic to one person may not be to another. We all have different thresholds.
With brilliant minds and sensitive souls, addiction is often the way they numb their emotional pain, but the real solution is healing their underlying trauma and teaching individuals healthier tools to reduce and/or eliminate the control this past situation has on them.
Who is most at risk for addiction?
We are all at risk of addiction, given the right set of circumstances. There is a point where emotional pain and trauma become unbearable and where addiction becomes a physiological and psychological need to sustain life.
What is the opposite of addiction?
Connection is the opposite of addiction. The power of connection is strong enough to break the trap of addiction. You never know what trauma or emotional pain someone is suffering from and it is important to be open to moments of human connection. They are everywhere and you can have a profound positive influence in someone’s life.
How do you support someone in treatment?
You might think being supportive to someone in treatment means you drop them off at the rehabilitation facility and pick them up when their time is done. That is not how it works if you want to support someone. To support someone struggling with addiction you must do your own work and it is not easy.
That personal work is a different kind of recovery and includes reflecting on what part you might own in this person’s environment, how you may be contributing, and how you may be creating an atmosphere that fosters the ripe environment for your loved .
Only after you work through your own recovery, can you be a positive contributor.
The role of forgiveness
Forgiveness is a complex word and it is a gift you give yourself. It is a form of self-care. Forgiveness does not mean you forget the hurtful situation or the person. Rather, it is an active mindset shift of untethering oneself so that the person or situation no longer maintains power over you. Compassion, acceptance and grace are other important lessons learned in your self-recovery work. Accept the past is the past. Move on, extend grace, forgive and accept the opportunity to create an entirely new possibility. You and only you can own this attribute.
You may not know about boundaries but they are healthy, necessary, and powerful. Boundaries are what you are going to tolerate and what you are unwilling to tolerate to maintain you own emotional and physical health. When you set a boundary, you must stick to it. Staying true to your boundaries contributes to your recovery and allows you to care for yourself.
Self-care is important and a healthy part of life. Saying no sometimes may means disappointing someone and that is okay. There is beauty in the ugly. The beauty shows up on the other side of the hard work.
In self-recovery, you become a new person, just like the person who gets to the other side of addiction recovery becomes someone new. You may need to grieve the loss of the person that was and embrace the new person that is by recognizing they have something amazing to offer.
There is meaning and purpose in adversity and it is where I discovered my life’s purpose. I encourage everyone to seek and manifest their own destiny and purpose. It will be up to you to seize moment and create a powerful future by not becoming a victim to these circumstances.
You may struggle, you may have to recover from it, you may have to do a lot of things, but you will certainly become a better person for it. I encourage you to welcome life’s adversities, do not settle as if you were a victim of your life.
I am a speaker, business leader, and life coach. My mission and passion are to educate and share the skills I have learned in my life to people, business leaders, students, and professionals on how to transform and better their own life’s purpose through their skills and individual experiences. There are too many of us who go coast through life, and we don’t really understand why we are here or what are we supposed to be doing with ourselves. I am encouraging you to subscribe and follow my YouTube channel. I am committed to finding meaning and purpose through life’s challenges for you!
Are you struggling with life’s challenges? Do you need help find your meaning and purpose? I would love to hear from you.