Many addiction sufferers are unable to experience a full range of emotional health within their day to day lives. This also leads to another issue of being unable to process and resolve interpersonal issues with other people and within themselves. The ability to manage emotions like anger, disappointment, fear, and joy all are affected and influenced by the addiction process.
Addictions follow a cyclical pattern. The need to use causes anxiety and ends in emptiness. Shameful feelings follow the acting out, which feels impossible to stop. So the cycle of shame and emptiness continues. The resulting self-sabotage and abandoning of responsibilities and commitments to others occurs since true healthy needs remain unfulfilled. Confidence, self-worth, unconditional love, are all too far away to be felt.
What are the types of addictions?
- Approval from others
- Technology, i.e. Facebook and Internet, Gaming
- Body Image
How can addiction be helped?
Treatment for addiction is not just about the substance used or the acting out being used, but more about the need. What is the underlying need for the abuse? What has caused the choice? What are the core issues? The acting out is simply the expression of the addiction. Addictions stem a belief system and the brain and body have adapted to the chemical process to feel at ease with the addiction. So understanding what is driving the need to act out is crucial to changing the addictive process. I work with clients who have approval seeking, pornography, and substance use addictions. Approval seeking is not healthier than substance use or substance use less offensive than affairs. All are painful for the addiction sufferer as well as the family members. Addiction sufferers are not able to fulfill their own needs. This inability leads to many life experiences of self-sabotage and abandonment. Being personally invested and present within oneself or a relationship is a high price to pay for an addiction.
Why is it so hard to stop addiction on my own?
Addiction allows the brain to temporarily feel relief from some stress, joy, anger, any emotional pressure, in an unfulfilling way. It literally short circuits the brain, allowing unhealthy learning. Decision making is almost impossible. After several years, this process becomes normal. That’s why addictions are so difficult to stop. The organ of the body that would normally allow for the decision to be made, the brain, cannot make such determinations. The brain has become modeled after the addiction. So stopping an addiction is no longer a matter of “strong will.” It simply becomes an internal war that usually ends badly.
What can I do?
Addressing addictions is a multi-layered process. Since the entire body is experientially involved many layers of care are required. Someone who is struggling with addictions needs to “borrow” another person’s brain, so to speak, to do the cognitive work. Changing belief systems, altering the brain’s ability to feel delayed gratification, manage anxiety, and emotions. This requires medications, a mental health therapist, group support that is safe and confidential, and friends and family. These are the first steps to recovery.
Since life experiences have become altered through addictive behaviors, the mind’s ability to maintain intimacy within itself has become weakened. Being unable to heal oneself and remain in a healthy place of self-worth, the addiction sufferer person seeks a pain killer to address these painful and stressful emotions. Seek a treatment plan that addresses the physical responses of the brain with medication. Use a therapist for cognitive changes and surround yourself with support to create your best chance for recovery. You deserve a full life that includes the range of emotional intimacy that you have been hungering for, instead of abandoning your personal needs of love and intimacy. May you gain peace and freedom on your recovery journey!