Addictions: Their meaning and healing process
"Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain. Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. The greater the pain the greater the addiction." (Eckhart Tolle).
Treatment begins with an acknowledgement of the addiction as being an attempt to resolve a problem in the person’s life. The person takes responsibility and makes a choice to experience, experiment and test out whether this coping mechanism works or not. What needs to be explored is not so much what's wrong with the addiction, but what is "right" about it. Addiction can be a buffer.
1. Escapism/avoidance of reality vs accepting how your life is or where you are at the present moment.
2. Loneliness vs avoiding to experience fully the loneliness of your existence, connecting with painful feelings and seeing the lack of or loss of someone there in your life.
3. Self-confident, socialising becomes easier vs feeling not good enough, finding relating difficult.
4. You are not afraid of intimacy and be relational vs fear intimacy, difficulty negotiating/compromising and working on your ego.
5. Feeling accepted vs fear of burdening others/feeling unwanted or rejected.
6. Not afraid of exposure vs fear of exposure/showing your real self.
7. Not afraid to be intimate vs fear of getting overwhelmed/fear of being vulnerable/fear of connecting with pain/distress.
8. Feeling accepted vs fear of rejection.
9. Feeling powerful vs feeling powerless.
10. Feeling in control vs feeling unsafe/lacking control/not knowing.
12. Sexual desires vs suppression.
13. Connotations associated with drug use vs fragile sense of self.
Addicts already know that their habits are body and soul annihilating, not to mention socially nihilistic.
They require validation, not for the way the addiction wants to meet these needs, but for the fundamental needs themselves. Of course, an addict’s needs are the same as what all humans need: Self-acceptance, relief of pain, peace of mind, social connection, and a sense of power and place.
In treatment, thus, we explore how, in a person’s life, these needs were not fulfilled; Why so much pain? Why that person developed the belief that only through particular substances or behaviours would they be met: Or what, in other words, created the susceptibility.
Whatever you do, do not try and escape from your pain... be with it, be the pain. The more you suppress something, the more you maintain it. The more you avoid connecting with an emotion the stronger it becomes. In other words, what you resist, persists. Protection from pain does not work. The attempt to escape from pain creates more pain and that is the reality with addiction. When we defend ourselves from suffering we only suffer more and we do not learn what we can or experience.
The reconnection with the self, with all its aspects, does not happen from the mind but through your body and the heart. As the spiritual master A.H. Almaas writes,
“Only when compassion is present will people allow themselves to see the truth.”
In order to be with the pain, you need to find some compassion from somebody. That somebody can be another person or yourself.
Accept your emotions, your pain and remain vulnerable. Are you brave enough to try that? That requires strength. In fact, this pain is trying to hand you a precious gift, the chance of discovery through practice of what lies behind sorrow.
Addiction is all about conditioning your mind and controlling it. When you get in touch with your feelings, the pain that is masked by your addiction, you reach that moment where you are not controlled by your mind or personality. In that moment you are not aligned with the conditioned mind which controls who you are.
That moment requires training on tolerance and frustration, compassion, self-love, acceptance and courage to look at how things are internally and externally. It is about giving space to your pain which often comes from early experiences, allowing it to breath, connecting with it with honesty, compassion and kindness. This is where the possibility for transformation and growth lies for learning to be comfortable on your skin as you are.
Psychotherapy and counselling can facilitate this process and help you connect with yourself, build resilience and find balance in your life. Take action and speak to a therapist.
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About Chryssa Chalkia
Chryssa is a UCKP registered psychotherapist. She is passionate about supporting individuals to improve their well-being and live a more fulfilling life. She believes in personal and professional development through self-awareness. She works with individuals in the NHS and privately offering brief/long-term therapy in both Greek and English.