By Reydon Stanford
An addiction or multiple addictions
are directly connected to psychology in that they are the direct result of personal, human behavior. Although in rare
cases someone may become addicted to a substance that is given them against their will...most addictions are a direct result
of our own behavior and mentality towards the thing(s) we become addicted to. Although society often gets the blame
for ‘creating the addiction-prone environment,' it is hard to place blame upon society alone, for our own choices, where
addiction is concerned. To believe that our current generation has a more difficult time adapting to the hardships of
our lives, than say those travelling across America in covered wagons would be a stretch. I'm not sure that we could
scientifically prove that the current levels of addiction within our society are the result of a greater need for self-medicating
than previous generations.
Although I'm certainly
not trying to sound condemning or accusatory towards those struggling with addiction, I do think it's important to begin
recovery by admitting that the addiction is the result, (except in rare cases), of our own choice to self-medicate, rather
than find healthier ways to adjust to our stress. In most cases addiction was not intentional, but the result is
still the same; intentional or not. Whether or not someone set out to get addicted to something, addicted is still addicted.
reason it is important to embrace our own role, (in our addiction), is that we will use those same personal ‘decision-making'
processes to overcome the addiction. In short, it was personal decisions, (and thus behaviors), that trapped us in an
addiction and personal decisions that will bring about our freedom. Freedom from addiction truly begins when WE choose
to break the cycle of our actions.
WHY WE BECOME ADDICTED
Just as with any major issue, there are multitudes of theories as to cause of the event. Addiction is no different.
My personal theory revolves around several triggers that tempt us, (as a society), toward addiction.
and Peer Pressure: In our society there are multiple things that are a threat to become an addiction that we participate
in on a social level or as the result of peer pressure. Gambling, drinking and recreational drugs, for example, are often
engaged in for the first time within a social setting. The "everyone's doing it," syndrome seems to be the gentle,
(or not so gentle), shove many need to engage in these potentially dangerous things. This is even more dangerous for people
who feel socially awkward already and have a greater desire to fit in. With alcohol or recreational drugs to ‘take the
edge off' of their awkward feelings, they can quickly associate one with the other. In these cases it is not a ‘real
party,' until they have used a substance to help them feel more at ease in the social setting. Addictions that come from this
dilemma usually involve a low self-esteem or great feelings of awkwardness in a social setting. These issues can be resolved
in counseling through healthy learning skills.
- Self-Medicating Against Stress: There are many addictions that
are associated with self-medicating against stress. Food, alcohol, illicit drugs, prescription drugs, tobacco, sex, pornography,
video games and television are a few of the things people use often to give themselves a short drop in their stress level,
or at least it seems that way. The greatest...and most obvious problem with these addictions and their cause is that is does
not DEAL with the stress, it only MASKS it for a short while, wherein another round of self-medicating is called for. Left
unchecked, these addictions almost always lead to much more serious issues down the line. Major health issues, relationship
failures, career losses and even death have been directly linked to addictions.
- Character-Masking: Some addictions
are the result of people who are deeply saddened by what they perceive as an ‘unlovable and non-valuable' self. Because
such feelings are so emotionally powerful and painful, addictions are used to ‘change the personality' of the person.
In short, they like themselves much better when they're drunk, (for example), than when they are sober. In many ways, the
addiction is an avenue for an ‘alternate state of being,' that allows them to hide from their true self...if only for
- Hiding from Guilt, Shame, or Painful Experiences: Some addictions are the result of self-medicating
against the mental torment of horrible past experiences such as war, rape, molestation, incest, family tragedies, mental illness,
physical illness and so forth. Many people who have suffered with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder have also fallen victim to
addictions as a way to ‘quiet the mind,' from the horrible ‘mind movies' that haunt them, regarding their past...or
even their present for that matter.
- Self Defeating Attitudes: On some occasions, people engage in dangerous
addictions as a form of rebellion against society. "This is my life and I can live it any way I choose." "Live
it hard and fast, that's my motto." These kinds of rebellious actions are usually the result of an immature psyche that
is crying out for acceptance and visibility. It's almost as if they're saying: "If you won't notice me when I'm normal...I'll
start killing myself slowly to get your attention." Sadly, in many of these cases...the behavior is fatal.
of "how" or "why" people become addicted, the results are rarely healthy or good. In fact, if you're
reading this article now, it stands to reason that you, or someone you love dearly, (or both), is struggling with an addiction(s)
that is slowing stealing your life from you and you desire to get it back. I applaud your bravery and pray something
written here will inspire you to begin taking the steps toward your freedom.
TWO SIDES OF
I truly believe that in order to tackle addiction successfully, we must usually deal with two issues. First is the "chemical
side of addiction," which can require hospitalization, medications, (such as anti-withdrawal meds), and plenty of
rest. Chemical addictions are difficult to break, there is no question about that and will power alone is usually no
match. Getting your body detoxified is the essential to breaking an addiction. Counseling is equally important
for long-term success and the mental and emotional dependencies associated with addiction.
The other of addiction is
the "mental and emotional dependence," which requires good, structured counseling to help a person understand
what thinking processes, behavioral and environmental aspects of their lives contributed to their addiction and how to reverse
that cycle. IT IS MY STRONG OPINION THAT DEALING WITH ONE SIDE OF THE ADDICTION WITHOUT DEALING WITH THE OTHER LEAVES
A VERY SMALL CHANCE FOR REAL OR LASTING SUCCESS. Working through the mental and emotional dependence aspects of addiction
is so important because it teaches us what mental and emotional processes and decision-making got us into addiction in the
first place. It also helps us restructure our thinking to avoid the same pitfalls in the future.
TAKING THE STEPS TOWARD RECOVERY
- 1. Admit (out loud) that it was choices that brought
about your addiction and choices that will bring you out.
- 2. Realize that recovery from addiction does not have to
be accomplished alone. Supportive friends, family, medical professionals, medications and counselors can help you make the
journey. If you don't know how to find this help or fear you can't afford it, find someone who can direct you to these services.
If support seems elusive, keep looking. Many people have dedicated their lives to helping, many without asking for a single
- 3. Studies show that prayer and renewing your faith can greatly improve your chances for success. Healthy spirituality
helps to provide peace, hope and strength to face our environment...and more importantly...one's self.
- 4. Be prepared
to do whatever is necessary to get yourself free. If that involves a stay in a rehabilitation facility and long-term counseling,
be prepared to say "Yes," to your treatment.
- 5. If your addiction has a chemical element, such as alcohol,
drugs or nicotine, steps must be taken to achieve detoxification.
- 6. Once detoxification is complete, good counseling
is needed to help you learn mental and emotional skills to alter your tendencies and behaviors.
- 7. Remind yourself
that you were not always addicted. You can be free again. Also, remind yourself that your addiction is a problem, but it is
not the real you. Refuse to allow your addiction to define you any longer.
by Reydon Stanford 2010