By Laura Castanza and Julia George ©2009
Addiction appears in the lives of every human being in many forms; some very obvious and others, very difficult to detect. Defined as “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice and/or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming” our addictive tendency is a relentless pursuit to capture a feeling while simultaneously attempting to avoid another feeling. We try to reach our desired sensation or achieve our non-feeling through the use of substances, processes, or both. It is duplicity at its finest, and instead of capturing, we become prisoners of our own pursuit.
Substance addiction involves the use of alcohol, drugs, and chemicals to alter our state of mind, and is the more obvious reference when we identify addiction. Our society has developed recommended guidelines, rules, and laws of use regarding “controlled” substances. But, many of us have little “control” over substances or anything else for that matter. More often we blame every thing outside of ourselves for bringing us to our demise, skirting core emotional issues and behavioral “red-flags” that could otherwise indicate a tendency toward addiction.
Process addiction is much more prevalent in our society but less obvious to discern. It is “the state of being enslaved to habit or practice”; it is rooted in our thought process and can affect every aspect of our being. Why? Because it is an active part of our lifestyle which defines our normalcy and is therefore supported by others whose mode of operation is similar. Workaholics, love/relationship addicts, sex addicts, cyber/internet addicts, cell phone addicts, gamblers, food addicts, exercise addicts, codependents… are all in process addiction. “Enslaved to our habit or practice”, we seek others who support our behavior. This negative cycle becomes our normalcy, and sooner or later our normalcy becomes counterproductive to our growth. There are proven ways to break these cycles.
The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and other affiliated groups (Al-Anon, NA, SLA…) has been the most effective means of recovering from the disease of addiction since the 1930’s. Bill W. and Dr. Bob were pioneers in the recovery process as Bill W. struggled with addiction: alcoholism (substance) and depression (process). Because of the social stigma attached to being an admitted addict, anonymity has been imperative to success in recovery. But as we expand our awareness, the truth reveals that there are very few, if any, human beings unaffected by addiction. Understanding that addiction is more behavioral than physical, especially in terms of process addiction, we narrow the gap between addicts (active or recovering), enablers and codependents, and moderates. And really, there is no difference between us except for the choices we make.
Choices… the only difference between the addict and the moderate’s mind is the concentration (or compulsion) of need. Both experience a need, but the intensity level is different between the two; the addicted mind obsesses and/or acts on impulse while the moderate does not; the choices made will reflect the state of mind. In terms of codependents and addicts, there is little difference as the addict can be addicted to anything and the codependent is addicted to the addict.
We are all of this and more. We can be the addict, codependent, and the moderate and are most likely a working combo as these characteristics emerge at different times. No one escapes addiction because of this relational aspect. We cannot ignore our own potential to become a self destructive addict given this new knowledge. Anytime we are driven to pursue something beyond reasonable means or we seek instant gratification, we are in our addiction. These behaviors are socially supported with zero payment credit cards, fast food restaurants, drive-thru liquor stores, online dating…etc. No one and nothing can stop us…except our self.
Practicing emotional awareness can break through the wall that keeps us locked in the cycle of self abuse/addiction. Because our mind affords us the opportunity to “act out” and dive into the smorgasbord of vices at our disposal, we must train/retrain our mind to become aware of our emotional state, taking control from within. Without our awareness, our thoughts, feelings, and actions have a mind of their own, acting out the repetitive patterns that have been in process most of our lives.
How we feel attributes to how we act. If we feel “good”, we can be at ease in that knowing (our nature); or we try to preserve our “good” feeling through resisting and denying other feelings that are “not so good” (our disease). Tapping into our nature to feel the gamut of emotions residing within us allows us balance. When we deny our emotional body, we exile an important part of our self. We become imbalanced and subconsciously seek to find an even keel through artificial means: people, material things, situations, substances… these things can appear to work for some time, maybe a lifetime, but eventually the truth prevails and we are forced to face our self in the final moments of our existence.
With the awareness that we can master our mind, we can change the course of our thinking and therefore our actions. Our addictions can be curbed when we incorporate a healthier “process” into our being through the consistent practice of being in-touch and in-tune with our self. We are less likely to take a wild ride on an emotional rollercoaster when we recognize how we feel when triggered. Understanding how to become an objective observer of our emotions and refrain from “acting out” can be discovered and supported, with the help of those who consistently practice emotional awareness and can teach others. With consistent practice and support, we can access the “tools” we were all born with that will change our choices, and our lives. All we have to do is face the truth and choose to change.
For more information or to discuss this article one-on-one, contact Julia George/Aquarian Age @ 561.750.9292