Here Is The Reason You Are Addicted
Excerpt from the upcoming book ‘The Addiction Healing Pathway’.
This is the ultimate question. If we can answer this, then we have in our hands the heart of the problem, and the seed of the solution. As you may have read in my previous article (Do You Know What Addiction Is…Really?), addiction is a symptom of an undesirable situation, but what was this situation that resulted in such physical, mental and spiritual trauma? What was the common thread that drove people to the self-harm that is addiction?
When I first began contemplating this question, I thought it was ridiculous. Every person suffering from addiction has their own unique situation, so it would be impossible to find one common cause. And each perspective of addiction would have its own view of this as well.
The choice view of addiction would argue that people become addicted because they are inherently selfish and weak.
The chronic brain disease view of addiction would argue that people become addicted because repeated behaviour gets hard-wired in the brain
The mental disorder view of addiction would argue that people become addicted because of an ability to deal with faulty thoughts and distressing emotions
The deep learning view of addiction would argue that people become addicted because they are striving for unhelpful goals, or the actions taken to achieve the goals is misguided.
People have also tried to explain addiction by genetics. And while there is some influence of genetic makeup there is not enough correlation to make a definitive link. There is not one gene that you can pin down and blame for addiction. Instead, there are a number of hereditary factors that play a part and which have a genetic link, including the predisposition towards impulsiveness, the vulnerability to frustration and sensitivity to rejection.
Given that some of these factors could be described as personality traits, there was also the theory going around for a while that there was such thing as an ‘addictive personality.’ The argument was that if you had a certain set of traits that you would be more likely to become addicted. However, as people dug deeper it was found that there was not one type of person that became addicted. In fact, people from each end of the personality spectrum were affected.
With inspiration from questionologist Warren Berger, I decided to dig further using a series of questions known as ‘the five why’s’. Here is how it played out:
Why do people become addicted?
Because the behaviour becomes hard-wired into their brains.
Why does it get hard-wired into their brains?
Because they keep repeating the behaviour?
Why do they keep repeating the behaviour?
Because their systems of choice-making have been damaged?
Why have their choice-making systems been damaged?
Because they kept taking a harmful substance?
Why would they take something that harms them?
Because initially it helps relieve their suffering.
And there was the question that created my a-ha moment. Why were these people suffering? Marc Lewis suggests a number of reasons such as stress or shame, trauma, loss of a relationship or job, or societal oppression. Some or all of this may be true. But in my mind, there is one underlying reason that they are suffering because they have either:
·stopped loving themselves or
· never learnt to love themselves in the first place.
I know it sounds like a naïve, and idealistic view, but why would people put harmful substances into their bodies in the first place? Why would they get stuck on the internet or gambling if they respected their precious time, energy and potential?
Scrape away layer by layer of the addiction effects and you come to this root cause — people become addicted because they don’t love themselves. It is simple and yet profound. But again, the question must be asked. Why don’t people love themselves? From the wisdom gained from so many inspirational thinkers and researchers, I have come to believe that people don’t love themselves because they:
· Have lost touch with their own unique and precious nature (what I will call spirit); and/or
· They are not able to live their true nature and so have lost a sense of meaning and purpose.
This is why I state that addiction is a symptom. I believe addiction is only one manifestation of the disconnect that so many people are suffering from. When people have lost touch with their spirit or are in a situation where they cannot be true to it, then we also see other evidence of despair including anger, materialism, depression, chronic illness. People lose connection with their life-giving force and passion which opens the door for diseases of all kinds to march straight in and take over. After all, if you don’t have any passion left of purpose in your life, you are not going to put up much of a fight are you? It is therefore, in my mind, this loss of connection to spirit that creates the inherent vulnerability for a range of diseases and disorders in the modern world, of which addiction is just one.
“ It is the always soul that dies first. Even if its departure goes unnoticed. And it always carries the body along with it.
Humans are nourished by the invisible. We are nourished by that which is beyond the personal. We die by preferring its opposite.” ~ Lucien Jacque (French poet)
Follow this story in my next article…There Is A Path Out of Addiction