This question is probably plaguing the minds of so many who struggle with the pains of addiction. It is also plaguing the minds of the people who love an individual struggling with addiction. The reason that the question causes so much pain for so many people is that we have so many misconceptions about addiction. I recently was listening to a fascinating interview by Johann Hari on the war on drugs. Because I was so fascinated by his interview, I looked up more information on him and discovered his article in the Huffington Post “The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think.”
The quote in his article that stood out the most for me was “the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.” If the antidote to addiction is human connection, what stops people from developing these connections? Not all addicts are living alone on the streets. If someone is surrounded by people who want to see them living a life of happiness, free from addiction, shouldn’t they be cured according to this belief?
Unfortunately, many addicts have traumatic backgrounds that make connecting to others very threatening. Since our bodies are hard-wired to protect us against all threats, real or perceived, the most important connection to nurture is often the connection to oneself. Connecting to oneself in a loving, nurturing way, may be easier said than done because it is easy to look at the negative consequences of the addiction and be very hard on yourself. In order to begin to nourish that nurturing connection to yourself, one important question to ask yourself is “How is (insert any negative behaviour) serving me?” You may be reading this post puzzled and believe the behaviour is not serving any purposeful behaviour. That is not true. It may be hard to see the purpose but every behaviour serves a purpose. So, what purpose does addiction serve in your life? What purpose does staying disconnected from those around you serve in your life? The answer to those questions begin your understanding on how to stop your addiction.
Tessa, Owner/Registered Psychologist
P.S.- I understand if these questions may feel like a stretch for you so if you need some help finding the purpose of these behaviours, send me an email.