The Root of Addiction
We are challenged to release that which binds us and keeps us small, heal the wounded child from deep cellular despair. We are peeling down the layers of self-definition and fear. It’s time to reconcile the pain, accept responsibility for our story, and critically examine our beliefs and actions. It is up to us to make the change. We have the power. It’s our choice to shift perspective and choose our actions wisely. This is a powerful opportunity for transformation, a time of deep cleansing and purification, unraveling wounded memories. The outer world reflects our inner discontent. Happiness is not just external trappings, but solace of internal stillness.
- Shari -
What drives us to reach for drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, overeating, sugar, gambling, overwork, sex, gaming, cell phone technology and pornography when we know the excess of these substances or activities are not good for us? Studies show addiction to substances can be genetically based with a physiological and psychological hook. We know intoxicants play with the Neurochemicals in the brain pushing Serotonin, Dopamine and Noradrenaline. We feel the rush of an Insulin spike from lots of sugar that kick starts our energy before the blood sugar drop only minutes later. We feel juiced by the surge of Cortisol and Adrenaline in our central nervous system pushing our Parasympathetic nervous system and Adrenals into over drive with the use of stimulants. We overload our Liver, Pancreas and Kidneys with alcohol, chemicals and fatty processed foods. Yet we crave the energy, the high or altered state, even though we recognize the consequences of the crash of blood sugar, the depletion of Catecholamine’s and our nervous system which may result in lower Immune Function, Inflammation, Hyper Acidity or Liver Toxicity. With headache, exhaustion, sluggishness and sickness from hangover and withdrawal, we come back again and again for the fast fix, sometimes even after a dangerous over dose. We try to abstain and some of us come clean. However, many of us stay on the treadmill caught in the highs and lows of addiction.
The push/pull of the addictive urge is intense, especially coming off Heroin, Crystal Meth, Cocaine, cigarettes and alcohol. Even clean, craving remains. The symptoms of withdrawal, headache, vomiting, mood swings, chills, fever, hallucinations and confusion are full on. The drive toward relief is overpowering. Some addicts lead a life of prostitution and crime, anything to get the fix. In America, many people are living on the streets, penniless and homeless, without family or government support, scrambling for their next high. Their life is driven by intense cravings. Life crisis and the physical, neurological and emotional dependency stimulate the need of chemical relief. The addict is obsessed and can’t focus on anything else until the next high. And once he/she comes down, they want it again and again. Many addicts lose their sense of self, pride and dignity living from fix to fix, never getting their cravings under control, fighting these powerful urges. Though there are Methadone Programs, Rehabilitation Clinics, twelve step programs and addiction counseling, many addicts never beat the battle with drugs and alcohol.
Aside from the physical hooks, “what prompts us to keep coming back to our addictions?” Some of us are troubled by the traumas of our past, wounds and upsets from childhood or past relationships. We remember feeling betrayed, abused, abandoned, unloved or unacknowledged. Some of us question why our parents or partners didn’t love us better and feel resentment, anger, pain and frustration over the loss of that love and nurture. We protect ourselves, shut down in our relationships, block our successes and stay small because we don’t think we deserve better. We push down the pain with a glass of wine, a bar of chocolate, tranquilizers, running from ourselves and the burning volcano threatening to erupt inside. It takes courage to face ourselves in the mirror. Internalizing family pain or heart break from the past only reinforces the addictive hook. To heal and move forward, we have to take responsibility and work through our emotional issues.
The pressure of daily life, the job, paying bills, taking care of the kids, managing the home is full on. “Where is the time to do the things we enjoy?” Some of us may be caught in the survival rut and don’t have motivation, time, energy or space to feel passionate and inspired with our own projects. Society conditions us to work hard, be responsible, practical and grounded. Though many people actualize their dreams, some of us are still waiting. We say to ourselves “I’ll take that painting, photography, singing or dance class, write a novel, travel to the Bahamas, build my dream home later, when I have more time or money, the kids are grown, my relationship improves, I lose weight, retire or feel good enough about myself to try, or when the universe hands me a new life.” Maybe someday when things change, but some of us wait too long. Change doesn’t happen on its own or overnight. We must change and take action to create what we want. If we don’t take risk, life stays the same.
Most of us fear change. Though we complain about our challenging plight, some of us unconsciously feel a sense of security, safety and familiarity in our Comfort Zone. Though not perfect, this is the life we know. It takes courage to face our fears, blocks and resistances, the unknown and create new goals. Our self-talk is critical in what we allow ourselves to have. We run negative tapes from the past or simply don’t feel good enough to try. Some of us unconsciously think we shouldn’t have or achieve more than our parents when they struggled so hard to raise us. Saying “No” to ourselves and our deepest yearnings is a killer to the spirit, locked in the need to constantly escape our created world of discontentment. Some of us stay in unhealthy intimate relationships that don’t nourish our needs, even when they are abusive. We say to ourselves “this is what it is.” “I can’t get what I want.” “I need the financial security, have a stable home or support the kids.” “This is my lot and it’s too hard.” “I don’t know how to change.” We keep ourselves down. We play small and feel unworthy of a meaningful life. The learning curve is to trust, have faith and follow our deepest knowing.
Addiction reflects a deeper hunger for something greater than what is apparent from the outside, discovering depth and meaning beyond mundane physical life. For some, drug use or intoxication is not only an escape, but a desire to feel euphoric lightness, a deeper spiritual connection or esoteric awareness, feel freer, open and less inhibited. Some may ponder the deeper questions, “who am I beyond the physical game, the face of my existence and the roles I play?” “What gives my life meaning and purpose beyond Social Conditioning and the expectations of others?” “What juices my spirit, my core being and breathes life intrinsically beyond external reflections?” “Is there something beyond this physical state?”
We use our addictions to get through the everyday grind, to escape the constant pressure of producing, making money and surviving. We look for that rush or immediate pleasure of intoxication to make the worries go away, take time out, run, look away and somehow get through. Sometimes life seems laboriously long, the minutes ticking like hours and if we get to our next fix, it will be ok. I can party, down a few red wines or maybe becomes someone else for a while. I can loosen up, let go of inhibitions, not be so serious or responsible, and deal with the repercussions later. However, there are consequences such as driving under the influence, being late or inefficient at work, becoming angry or aggressive and emotionally unavailable at home, being unreliable with commitments, and letting other people down. Some people lose their loved ones because their behavior has gotten too volatile or toxic or suffer from self-hatred and lack of self-care, needing others to look after them. Addiction can be a form of self-sabotage, breaking down solidly placed structures in order to punish ourselves or our loved ones. We hurt ourselves for our past mistakes, hurtful experiences, wounds or traumas. Some of us don’t want to accept responsibility for our lives and our Soul lessons. We cop out, hide, avoid or run away.
But for most of us, at some point in our lives, catastrophic events happen, often unexpectedly, that tip us over the edge where life is never the same. Someone we love dies, we lose our beloved partner, child or pet, an accident happens, a rape, someone gets hurt, a disability, disease strikes, infidelity or conflict breaks the marriage, we get divorced, a business goes bankrupt, we lose our home and we become anxious, angry or depressed. The list is endless. Life goes on and somehow, we must to.
For many people, life stops there and there is no sense of moving forward, coming to terms or creating anew. We know we can never have that person or experience again. It is an irreplaceable loss. Overpowering grief, anger, and a deep guttural pain sets in. It becomes a burden being alive. The frustrated grit of life becomes raw and unbearable. The pain sucks us down to the bone. But yet somehow, we must endure. At this point, especially on the shock of impact, many of us don’t care. The rules have changed. What we thought about life no longer matters. Some of us start drinking, overdose on pharmaceutical medications, sleep tablets, pain killers or amphetamines, anything to get through that overwhelming sense of hopelessness, emptiness or despair. We want to run away and escape. The vodka and cigarettes are a long-cherished friend comforting us, making us feel safe. It’s what we rely on that will never leave us. Many of us sit in fear believing life will never be what we want. Our faith is challenged. We feel heartbreak and despair. We disconnect from our core self.
Everyone wants joy, happiness, love, and validation, knowing we are good enough and loveable just as we are. We want to be accepted, especially when we can’t accept ourselves. We need connection, a reason for living, be part of something greater than ourselves and our insular world. It’s a spiritual hunger for a deeper connection with each other. It’s a search for intrinsic meaning, connecting the dots to life’s mystery that makes sense between the personality and Soul. There needs to be a reason to get out of bed in the morning, knowing there is something to live for, our life makes a difference, and we are not alone. We are important regardless of what we do or who we think we are. We have a deeper hunger for nourishment in all the places we don’t feel nourished.
It is the quest to find this inexplicable and intangible substance that connects us to life. The meaning is the Digging for it. When people give up, the addiction intensifies, feeling there is no way out, the situation is out of control and too painful. We want to escape. It is blocked energy, trapped life force with no outlet or expression. We don’t know how to move. Sometimes we can’t figure it out or create something different than the life we know or we just don’t have the motivation or energy to try. The physiological and psychological hook is intense. We are in stale mate locked in the daily grind. Drugs and alcohol put a lid on that and make the intolerable almost tolerable. Anything to pacify the time and get through becomes the Motto. Life waste away being high, somewhere else, anywhere but here.
We play out karmic scenarios with our colleagues, friends and loved ones to work through our emotional issues, resentments and hurts, to push us deeper, open our hearts speak our truth and show our authentic selves. Interactive dynamics can be challenging and painful. Rather than confront the situation, it’s easier to pull back and avoid. But it’s in the turning inward that clarity comes. It’s accepting responsibility to make constructive change for a better life. We can only do this ourselves. There is no magic bullet or quick fix. No one can do this for us.
Addiction is a journey. It’s a painful struggle with lots of pitfalls and potholes. At times the pull toward the hook overwhelms our rational control, especially dealing with strong addictive substances like Crystal meth, EMDA, Alcohol, Cocaine or Heroin. This stuff can kill us. We need to be gentle with ourselves, take it one step at a time, and get the support we need. It’s the falling down and picking ourselves back up again that stimulate self-awareness, learning and growth. We are here to discover our strength, the tapestry we are made of, embarking on our healing and recovery.
Life is a journey toward wholeness, peeling down the layers and discovering ourselves. We are here to work through lessons to build character and learn about addiction to develop greater compassion, tolerance, and forgiveness, build greater empathy for ourselves and others. The world is full of colourful travelers. We are all working out our stuff. We are love disguised in different faces. We need to ask for support. Seeing a doctor or counselor, participating in workshops, retreats, support groups, rehabilitation clinics, alcoholics or narcotics anonymous and other twelve step programs are great resources. Help is available when we reach for it. We are never alone. Each moment presents an opportunity to change and reclaim our life. It is our birthright to be all we are meant to be.
It is our choice.
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