They say ‘what you resist, persists’ and addiction can be the same way. Consider the labeling we encase around the idea of addiction and the path people take to ‘recovery’ wrought with repetition and continued identification with the past. This is an opinion piece about addiction and an entirely different approach to ‘curing’ addiction. The question being posed is – does embracing, rather than shunning the addiction, lead us closer to finding a cure?
You see and hear so many people who want desperately to quit smoking, stop drinking or stop ‘using’ all together, however these people are largely motivated by guilt. The inner voice, which speaks of self-sabotage and ill health resulting from their continued actions, drives many people who are facing ‘addiction’ to wish they could stop. Guilt, unfortunately, is the prominent voice of our society telling us that living a ‘certain’ way is more acceptable than another.
Because of the issues resulting from many people who have become addicted to drugs and alcohol, sex and food, we have a variety of ‘shining’ examples to back up these societal labels and pressures. But what are the REAL underlying issue which drive all people who drink, do drugs, over-eat, crave sex, and do anything to an extreme which could cause harm to themselves or another?
In so many cases, the addictive substance becomes the symbol for love. When a person is feeling alone or insecure, they reach for a drink, a cigarette, that bag of cookies, or a hit of the closest drug. The real issue seems not to be the substance, which is being abused, but the emotion driving the reach. The substance has become nothing more than a symptom of deeper loneliness, personal regret and self-doubt. The deeper one slips into feelings of inner rejection, the more their ‘use’ tends to increase.
What if we shifted the cultural thinking to one of embrace, rather than ‘addict prevention?’ When we know someone who is ‘abusing’ our first thought is to get them into re-hab, which denies them the substance, but does very little to address the underlying cause of the behavior. I am not saying that rehab clinics don’t try to work through emotional issues during group and personal therapy sessions, I know they do – but is it enough? And is the structure conducive to full recovery and self-empowerment? I don’t know. I am simply asking the question to explore another way.
Can you imagine how different things would be if instead of teaching the repulsion of the addiction and encouraging movement ‘away’ from it – one was taught to embrace it fully? What would that look like? Some might say this would only encourage deeper abuse and ‘no way out’ of the situation causing harm. On the surface, it seems so. But if explored deeper, the questions must be asked – why the addiction? What basic need is it fulfilling? And if the basic need can be identified and the ‘substance’ viewed as the chosen avenue for filling the need – perhaps the emphasis would naturally shift.
I once asked a man, who admitted to being addicted to pornography, to explore why he was addicted with me. We discussed the possibility of surrendering to his addiction for an entire day on the premise of a fast of sorts – that every time he felt ‘hungry’, to look at his ‘addiction’ as the food he craved, and to give it to himself with the intention of discovering his deeper bliss. At first, he was puzzled. The more we spoke of this, we began to uncover, HE began to uncover the truth about his addiction and what drove him to pursue it. He admitted that at that moment of ‘release’, the one he engaged all of his activity for, was in attempts to ‘remember’ the bliss of who he really is – at the core. I believe this is true for all people. We are all seeking that deep, inner connectivity and the remembrance of our true bliss, a deep inner embrace.
Mindfulness might be another way to describe the ’embrace’ I am speaking of. When one can bring awareness and observation to the acts they are performing, and then choose them with full knowing, full consciousness that they are doing so – it is a very different reality than selecting experiences unconsciously. In awareness, the higher aspect of a person is brought into the game. For example:
Someone who has been drinking, regularly for many years, does not even think about why they drink. A surface answer may be given, “I like alcohol”, “It helps me to unwind”, or “I always have a drink after dinner.” The true reason for the drink is not even realized by the drinker. The truth may be closer to ‘I feel more comfortable with myself after a drink’, ‘I can socialize better’ or ‘I don’t have to feel what I am really feeling when I’ve had a drink or two.’ But if these realities can be surfaced, and acknowledgement, that the drinking, smoking, eating or whatever is happening in the name of personal defense and seeking of underlying bliss- then we are getting somewhere.
I know someone who eats when they are upset. Actually several someones, but one in particular I am thinking of. She knows she does it. When she is ‘binge-ing’ she says so. She will even go so far as to say why she is doing it and how long it will go one. She speaks to the food while she is eating it and tells it that it is assisting her right now in dealing with the emotions that are coming up for her. It is a miraculous thing to behold. Though one might look at her behavior and name it an ‘addiction’, I can observe her and know that she has the whole thing down to an art. It even seems healthy to me. The only part of it that doesn’t seem beneficial, is the societal labels that might creep into her minds, or the minds of those who might see her. This woman is empowered when she ‘binges’ and that is the difference.
I know another case, of a couple who fights on a regular basis. Others could observe them and call it abusive and destructive behavior, maybe even an addiction. There is sometimes mild physical violence involved and definite mouthing off. When I first watched them, I had to seriously question whether I should call the cops on them and do some kind of an intervention. The strange part about it – they are some of the most conscious, aware and present people I know. After an argument, no matter how explosive, they always sit down and work through the issues that surfaced and find constructive ways of resolving them. It occurred to me that the relationship was, by its very nature, bringing their individual issues to the surface for resolve. That for both of them, healing may not happen any other way than in this ‘seemingly addictive pattern’ again, labeled negative by society.
It is a tricky line to walk, as many of us have known someone with deeper issues, who hid behind drugs and other substances to their ultimate demise. But as a society, we are to blame. We have created a system that does not support ‘use’ in the way we could. I know this sounds strangely pro-drug, but I have known many people to responsibly use drugs for their own personal evolution and then stop them of their own accord. Some may say they do not have ‘addictive personalities’ and they are lucky. Well, yes, that is one opinion. I happen to think that we all have the same capacity for self-awareness and self-empowerment, just some of us believe it more.
To embrace the addiction in order to find the cure, one must stop buying into the cultural interpretation of what is ‘acceptable’ and what is not, and create truth for themselves. This is challenging in a society that would ‘put you away’ for following these inner impulses. We have designed a system that supports the non-addict…except for in cases of coffee, cookies, television, prescription drugs, porn…oh, wait. Hmmmm. An interesting predicament we have created in this country, and subsequently, the world.
What if we suddenly accepted everything as okay? I know it’s a stretch because we believe that ‘harmful people’ exist and ‘harmful experiences’ happen. And they seem to. According to quantum physics, what we observe, we see. What we look at – solidifies. And, now we are realizing our emotions affect our environment. Are we creating addicts by the very label of them? When we personally have difficulties, do we find the cave of ‘addiction’ as a suitable and ‘low’ enough station to sequester ourselves into – as if we deserve such a title? It’s all just conversation in the head to explore at the moment. I wonder what your thoughts are? Is it natural to become addicted? Or do we create addiction? Is it right to try and ‘recover’ or is there a more organic way to evolve ones experience?
Let me know your thoughts, I am curious.
Written by: Stasia Bliss
Sources: my own musings