With beguiling eyes and sensuous words, addiction finds us in our most vulnerable moments. With promises of unlimited ecstasy and highs beyond what we have ever dreamed, addiction whispers of adoration and devotion, all the emotions we have ever dreamed of. Once addiction has us, it follows through with a onetime ecstasy, but never again will it give us that same experience. Forever asking for more and more from us, hinting we are not good enough. Temperamental and fickle, addiction’s adoration and devotion begin to fade, all the while demanding absolute dedication from us.
As with a vicious lover, addiction is never satisfied and looks outside the relationship for new addictive behaviors and substances to fulfill its needs, all the while dragging us behind.
How does addiction find its way into our life?
Addictive behaviors and substances have the potential to be “habit forming” to some people and not necessarily others. Behaviors such as gambling, gaming, sexual, eating, exercise, self-harm and many more are typically what we think of as potentially addictive. Substances also fall into this trap, misuse of prescription medication, street drugs, alcohol are usually what we think of. Consider other things that may fulfill the emotional need for reward and reinforcement. Anything can become addictive, it is how we use the behavior and/or substance and to what purpose.
Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences. (1) Addictive behavior is both rewarding and reinforcing. Reinforcing, stimuli that increase the probability of repeating behaviors paired with them. Rewarding, stimuli that the brain interprets as intrinsically positive and desirable or as something to be approached. (2)
But why do some people become addicted?
The behavior or substance fulfills something that is missing, and for a while it works….until there becomes more of a problem than a perceived solution. When we have a genetic history of addictive traits within the family, our psyche is receptive to the potential for the same traits to be activated. A Genogram detailing your family addictive traits and behaviors will show the trail of patters from one generation to the next. Addiction may not present as the same from one generation to the next. For example, alcohol addiction on a grandparent’s line may adapt to an eating disorder or self-harm behavior in the next generation. Cousins from the same family may have a variety of addictive traits exhibited as gambling, hording, cutting and not alcohol.
Likewise, a family history of abuse or traumas may pass down as learned behaviors, from one generation to the next. This can also be called emotional contagion (3), behaviors of one family member may become so ingrained, even ritualistic, within other family members. The psyche from previous generations may leave us vulnerable to not knowing how to cope with life stressors, thus the behaviors turn on almost by themselves.
How can we break free?
Understanding how addiction begins and accepting we are vulnerable begins a process of acknowledgement that we need assistance outside of our self. The opportunity also arises to learn how to apply alternative healthy coping mechanisms, rather than relying upon addictive behaviors and/or substances. Recovery does not end following rehab; the work of resolution involves recognizing what was missing. We will be introduced to emotions and feelings not recognized or allowed to come forward. Getting comfortable with our vulnerably and accepting our humanness will allow us to make better choices in all our relationships, not merely relying upon behaviors and/or substances to be our perceived protector.
- Volkow N.D., Kobb GF, McLellan A.T. (January 2016). “Neurological Advances from the Brain Disease Model of Addiction”. N. Engl. J. Med. 374 (4): 363-371.
- Nestler E.J. (December 2013). “Cellular Basis of Memory for Addiction”. Dialogues Clin. Neurosci. 15(4): 431-443.
- Hatfiled, E.: Cacioppo, J.T.: Rapson, R.L. (1993). “Emotional Contagion”. Current Directions in Psychological Sciences. 2:96-99.
Your Transformational Life Coach
Trained as a *counselor -therapist I’ve come to find a more fulfilling approach through the practice of Transformational Life Coach. Online therapy (coaching sessions) is available anywhere across the globe!
Transitioning from marketing and contract management, I was allowed the opportunity to return to school and study my life’s dream of working with people in overcoming childhood trauma and abuse. Education includes a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology through Argosy University (2007), and in the home stretch of completing a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Capella University. Also, pursuing my Doctor of Philosophy, Ph.D. specializing in Transpersonal Counseling through the University of Sedona. Trained as a psychotherapist I’ve come to find a more fulfilling approach to helping others through the practice of “Transformational Life Coaching” (online therapy and in person).
*counselor – therapist (psychotherapist), adheres to the concept of the medical disease model of mental disorders prescribes. Mainly, that the client is viewed as ill with a pathological or pathogenic diagnosis in need of treatment.
Recovery does not end after discharge! Aftercare following detox is imperative to your overall lasting recovery. Issues that were present before rehab may still linger. Complete Recovery is not an option! Online therapy available to all areas of the country. Alternatives in Counseling: holistic perspectives.