Emerging from the rabbit hole of addiction

Lewis Carol's story of Alice in Wonderland has often been synonymous with underlying drug references and addiction. Some feel that it was written whilst he himself was “enslaved” by his own opium and laudanum addiction (in Roman law, an addict was a person that became enslaved through a court ruling). 


On the surface, it would seem that Alice had somewhat of a perfect life - idyllic, even. But, under this lie, there was discontent. She is portrayed as having a feeling of “ennui” - boredom or never feeling really satisfied with what life was offering up.

Whilst trying to satiate that feeling, searching for something more, a white rabbit appears. Curiosity grasps hold of her and, inevitably, she falls down into a magical, world of wonder. She meets many shadowy and colourful characters along the way who entice her to try many mind-altering substances with the promise of escape.

This story, although whimsical in portrayal, is not uncommon when in the depths of addiction.

Everyone who enters recovery has a different story. However, the common theme is falling down the 'rabbit hole' and wondering if they will ever emerge out of it and if they will be able to live a fulfilling life.

This road can be a relentless task of trying and failing; so much so it feels like you’ve been stuck in the maze for so long, and your hope of getting out is beginning to wane.

You may even start to feel that sitting next to the caterpillar smoking his pipe whilst listening to the Mad Hatter's ramblings doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Especially when you are contemplating at the same time, whether to go for the “eat me” or “drink me” option. After all, who wants to subject themselves to a life of repeated failure. 

Before you know it, that negative self-talk can creep in and flood you with self-doubt and shame. You may even begin to welcome the Queen of Hearts offering of “Off with her head” that was once so feared.

However, the addicted mind is a resourceful one and not to be underestimated. It doesn’t rest for too long. Like the caveman, it needs to go out and bring back sustenance or, in the case of the addict, substances.

That drive and determination still remain. It’s the motivator. The spark that keeps the engine ticking over. Every misinterpreted 'failure' to give up is actually a valuable learning experience. 

How can therapy help?

Residential rehab and other treatment medications used in the community can be useful in supporting the addict to stop using the substance. But, what the real battle can be is in learning how you harness and tame that drive in the direction of recovery. It is essential in being able to stay clean and sober. 

Accessing a therapist who specialises in this field can be like a lifeline when emerging from the rabbit hole of addiction. Helping you to 'wake up' and recognise your full potential to feel satisfied with life and recognise what your life means to you.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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St. Neots PE19 & Bedford MK40
Written by Donna West, MBACP (Accred)ACTO (Snr) Psychotherapist/Clinical supervisor
St. Neots PE19 & Bedford MK40

I have worked with an array of clients whom have accessed counselling for varying reasons that they feel are inhibiting them from living an authentic life. My role within the therapeutic relationship is to work alongside an individual to facilitate self-exploration and consider alternative routes that may lay before them.

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