When you think of addicts do you think that is only drug addicts and alcoholics? Have you joked that your partner is a workaholic or that you find a particular TV show or food addictive?
There are so many things to be addicted to, do you have the propensity to be an addict?
Psychology Today states that addiction is not a substance disorder, it’s a social disorder. That addiction is not about substance abuse, it’s about the user’s “inability to connect in healthy ways with other human beings”.
Looking around at all the people on their smartphones, earphones in, not making eye contact with those around, I would have to agree – there appears to be a social disorder, and it probably happens in your home. Some things we can be addicted to:
It is important to remember that addictions don’t just happen. The trigger for addictions is now considered to be trauma in childhood. Events that may not seem like much to us as adults, can be a huge impact on a child. It might be abuse, but it might also be unintentional emotional neglect by parents who don’t know better, leaving you with emotional trauma and self esteem issues.
Codependence and Addiction
Codependency is psychological term, that outside of that field of study many people initially do not identify with. Let’s just accept it as the name of a disease and see how it relates to addiction.
Pia Mellody, Senior Clinical Advisor for The Meadows Treatment Centre, describes codependency (excessive reliance on other people for a sense of identity or approval) as a disease that lead to issues with control, resentment, mental illness, physical illness, difficulty with intimacy and addictions. In her work, Pia showed how “codependents carry their abusive caretakers’ feelings. These ‘carried’ feelings lead to rage, panic, unboundaried curiosity, dire depression, shame as worthlessness or shamelessness, and joy as irresponsible childishness”. Pia came to understand ‘abuse’ in a much broader context than it was previously understood. Not all abuse leaves physical bruises, but it does leave trauma.
Trauma, is sometimes caused deliberately, and sadly sometimes this is the only way caregivers know how to be. It is what they learnt from their family. Which leaves children of these caregivers potentially codependent, seeking approval and identity, and harbouring feelings of ‘not good enough’.
Easy to see why then self-harm in any form (including addiction) is not a big leap, and why self-care is such a struggle.
What can we do about it?
The beginnings of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) show the need for, and success of, the 12 step program. It is self help for those who are suffering, and provides connection, support, and identification with others going through the same challenges.
Since AA’s beginnings in 1935, there have been a number of 12 step programs that have sprung forth. These range from Narcotics Anonymous to Clutterers Anonymous and groups that provide support for the families of addicts. Addiction is a family, and generational, disease passed on from parents to children – even if you are trying oh so hard NOT to pass it on!
A visit to rehab centre is a great place to start, a chance to get clean of any substance you might be addicted to, including sugar and coffee. But rehab alone won’t be sufficient to overcome the inability to connect with other humans. This is where 12 step programs help, and as they say in the program “it works if you work it”.
Rehab or recovery centres are for more than just substance addictions, they also provide therapy and insight for anxiety and depression – remember the primary disease of codependence described above.
When there is a lack of self-care, resulting in the wrong diet, abuse of substances, destructive behaviours – they take their toll not only mentally, but also physically.
Understanding that big changes might not be possible for someone who struggles with self care, herbs and nutritional supplements can be used to help rebalance brain chemistry, manage moods and stresses. Then when you have achieved some recovery, informed changes to diet and lifestyle can continue to support your mental and physical health.
You matter!! Take care of yourself, and please let me know if I can help.
Maria Mitchell is a qualified herbalist, energy healer, aromatherapist, meditation and workshop facilitator, and author – with a passion for supporting your health wholistically. Having experienced her own life challenges and pain, Maria has now developed wholistic methods to address such challenges. Over the past decade she has refined these techniques to help bring rapid results for her clients.
A few recovery resources in Australia: