What Is Addiction?
First let me explain what addiction is. Addiction is frequently being compelled to indulge in a behavior that offers short-term relief, but long term damage in any area of your life (health, relationships, finance and work to name just a few areas). The important word here is ‘compelled’!
Addictive behavior is often not recognized initially by the sufferer because they think they are deriving great pleasure from their addiction of choice. It is only when the addictive behavior hits tipping point and starts to cause damage in some area of the sufferer’s life that they realize they may have a problem.
The addict then decides to stop or control their behavior and discovers that they are unable to do so. This then causes a very painful internal emotional discord as the addict tries to control their addictive behavior, but feels powerless to do so. This leads to feelings of guilt, shame and weakness within the sufferer, further fueling the addictive behavior.
Types Of Addiction
Now let us explore addiction itself. All addiction has exactly the same roots regardless of the substance or behavior that makes up the addiction.
So addiction could be to substances such as alcohol, drugs or food, or it could be to behaviors such as gambling or shopping. All addictions are there to serve the same purpose, which is to change the way the addict feels. All addiction is masking unresolved pain.
How Does Addiction Work?
This is how it works! The addict has a feeling. Now the feeling could be good or bad. A good feeling will lead the addict to celebrate. If they are addicted to food, they will celebrate by eating. An alcoholic will have a drink and a gambler will treat himself to a little flutter. If the addict has a bad feeling, they will indulge in the addictive behavior to try and make themselves feel better.
This is the paradox of addiction. One cure for all feelings! So, as the addictive behavior continues it naturally gathers momentum and becomes a bigger and bigger part of the addicts life. In extreme cases, if allowed to continue, it becomes the only thing in the addicts life.
Addictions naturally gather momentum for numerous reasons. One reason is that the addict perceives that they gain some kind of reward from their addiction. This is never the case. If you enjoy something, you can take part in the activity and feel better for having done it afterwards.
An addict usually feels worse following the addictive behavior. A drinker will have a hangover, a shopper will feel guilt about the bills they now have to pay, an emotional eater will feel guilt about their latest binge etc.
As discussed earlier, addicts indulge in their addictive behavior to change their emotional state. Once the bad feelings surface after their latest indulgence, what is the first thing you think they will want to do?
Yes! They will indulge once again in their addictive behavior in order to get rid of their unwanted feelings. This is obviously a downward spiral.
How To Overcome Addiction?
So we now come to the point where we can explore how to overcome addiction.
1. Change Your Self-Perception About Addiction
As previously stated, it is not the addiction that is the difficulty; it is the addicts perception of their addiction that is the challenge. If the addicts perception is changed, the addiction could be overcome with relative ease. The addict feels helpless to overcome their addiction because they perceive their addictive behavior as being precious to them.
This is denial. It is this denial that needs to be addressed and then the addiction can be resolved because the addict can see clearly that the addiction is not serving them. It is in fact doing the opposite. It is destroying them.
2. Beat The Mental Side Of Addiction
The strongest addiction is actually psychological addiction rather than physical addiction. Physical addiction can usually be resolved after a few days of detoxification. If physical addiction was the strongest element of addiction, then it would follow that after a few days of detoxification, you would be free. As we all know, this is not the case.
Psychological addiction is the root and is caused by faulty thinking and denial. Change the thinking and the addiction no longer exists because it is no longer “needed”.
If you think you have a physical addiction, please seek help because you may need a supervised detoxification program. For addictive behaviors, your first step is to admit you have a problem. You do not have to hit rock bottom to overcome an addiction.
People hit rock bottom because they fear their life without their addictive behavior so much that they continue with the behavior until they have nothing left. I promise you. Life without addiction is wonderful. It is faulty thinking that is telling you otherwise!
3. Heal The Source Of Emotional Pain
Beneath addiction is often unresolved emotional pain. If you have suffered any type of trauma in your past, please go and seek help now to resolve it; and then resolve to make meaning out of your suffering.
There are probably thousands of people who have suffered a similar trauma and/or addiction who could really benefit from your help even if it is just hearing your story!
Avoiding emotional pain will not help you. You have to learn to walk through emotional pain. Do not allow your past to dictate your future.
4. Seek A Motivational Purpose In Life
Addiction often also masks a feeling of lack of purpose. Addiction can allow someone to “opt out” of life and sit on the fence just observing from a distance. We all have skills and gifts to share with the world.
You are no exception (although you may feel as if you are). Trust me, you have a purpose. Decide today that you are going to commit to finding and living that purpose.