Our society has a funny way of viewing addiction. Most often we blame the substance. Drugs are outlawed out of fear that they are the cause of so much pain. Because of their addictive qualities they actually are the cause of addiction. But I call bullshit. I believe that the war on drugs is a cop-out and that drugs are just a way to express or deal with an underlying and much deeper issue.
I’m no stranger to addiction, I have been addicted to pretty much anything you can be addicted to. I have what you might call an “addictive personality”. I’m not entirely sure what that means but apparently its a thing.
At the age of 16 I became very addicted to meth. The root cause of my addiction started long before this but meth became my substance of choice for almost 3 years. When I was 18 I realized I had a serious problem and made the decision to quit before I ended up even worse off. I wasn’t sure how to quit so I called the local rehab, they told me it would be 6 months before a bed would open up.
I couldn’t believe it! But it was honestly the best thing that ever could have happened to me. At the time I was scared, super scared. When I get scared I start making all kinds of vows to myself so I vowed that I would get myself clean and then figure out what this addiction stuff was all about so I could help others too.
I quit meth all on my own within 6 months of making that phone call to the rehab. I did it by simply making a decision and allowing myself to guide me to the next step. It wasn’t easy, it was horrible! But, even though I quit the substance I still had the addiction issue.
After I quit that drug I just found other things to become addicted to – sex, work, relationships, supplements, etc. I realized that substances aren’t the problem. You can literally be addicted to anything! The root cause is what we should be focusing on. So I turned my attention inward and over the years I’ve learned quite a few things when it comes to addiction.
Little Lessons I’ve Learned about Addiction
Substances aren’t the issue
By placing our focus on alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, etc. we take away from the root cause of what addiction truly is.
Most all of us have experienced addiction in some form or another.
Someone who is a workaholic can be hurting themselves and others with their addiction just as badly as someone who is addicted to alcohol. Why, as a society do we look down on one and glorify the other? A mindset change on what addiction truly is and where it comes from is desperately needed. We need to be asking – What is the cause?
Addiction comes from a deep sense of emptiness and lack of connection.
We all want to feel connected, like our lives mean something and we are worthy. When we don’t feel this way we end up feeling pain and to fill the void we turn to outside sources of comfort. This could look like shopping, eating, drugs, working, or any number of other things that make us feel better about ourselves.
(For some fun science on addiction and connection CLICK HERE to read a post from Psychology Today!)
Just because we quit our “drug of choice” doesn’t mean the addiction goes away.
I quit meth and never looked back. I didn’t think of myself as still a meth-head that was all behind me but I still looked for things to fill the void, so while I was no longer addicted to that drug I still needed something, anything, to make me feel less empty.
It’s our inside beliefs about who we are at the core that create addiction.
Our beliefs about ourselves create who we are. From there we act. Our actions are always in alignment with what we believe about ourselves.
The key to healing addiction comes from within.
When we can believe that we are worthy, that we have something to contribute and make decisions based on that we start to heal!
My addictive behavior started with a deep sense of shame.
As a little girl I had a deeply shaming experience that taught me I was bad – inside. From that point I felt so deeply ashamed of myself and completely unlovable. Once I became a teenager I started looking for ways to get rid of that pain and I ended up using drugs to do that. Shame disconnects us, it tells us we are wrong and bad inside and keeps us separate. What causes most addictive behavior and what really needs to be addressed is shame and separation. (Read: Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly for more on this!)
Healing an addiction, healing that void inside is a journey.
It takes time and decisive behavior. It doesn’t happen overnight. I have spent more than half my life living with addiction after addiction and discovering more of myself through these experiences. It can be a beautiful and painful process but the more we connect with who we are the easier it gets!
I believe to some degree or another we all experience addiction, just like we all experience shame. Its human.
It is possible to completely heal addiction – I truly believe that. We don’t have to be in recovery the rest of our lives. Or fight “temptation”. Let’s simply recognize this for what it is; not the big scary thing its become in the eyes of society. We can shine the light on what is dark and see that its all very simple. And I believe that connection is the key.
The more connected to ourselves we are, the more connected we feel and that leads to a sense of worthiness and fulfillment that comes from the inside and is expressed out into the world.
What do you think or believe about this issue? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!