Addictions - same same but different

Is it fair to say that when we hear the word addiction, we most commonly associate it with problems relating to alcohol, drugs, gambling, smoking, gaming or even porn? Yet, when we start to unpack what addictions actually are, we realise that whilst the subject of our addictions may vary and some may appear a lot worse than others, they are all same. Same, but different in that they all provide us with a means of ‘checking out’ to avoid having to ‘deal with’ how we’re feeling.

An addiction is a repetitive behaviour, which we ‘think’ we enjoy as it appears to make us feel better, or perhaps more truthfully said, it enables us not to feel as much. It provokes some kind of chemically induced ‘high’, natural or otherwise, followed by a ‘low’, which we’re willing to endure as the ‘high’, makes it all worthwhile, while it lasts. When this pattern of behaviour starts to interfere with our everyday life, it’s considered to be an addiction.

We are very good at convincing ourself that we have control until we’re willing to be honest enough to recognise that the opposite is true. It’s at this point that everything can start to fall apart, as whilst we may be willing to accept that we have an addiction, we may also feel that we can’t survive life without it. This is a logical decision on one level but illogical if we’re willing to consider the harm the addiction causes us, both physically and emotionally.

Let’s unpack this a little further and consider what is it that we are we escaping from and why are we doing this to ourselves, why are we choosing to ‘un-see’ or ignore that we are choosing to escape into behaviours that are harming us?

If all addictions are a form of ‘checking out’, a distraction so we don’t have to feel and deal with what’s actually going on for us, whilst we may get instant relief from the tension, we also have to ask ourselves, ‘but at what cost?’

In choosing to check out, we are disconnecting from our body, abandoning the one thing that supports us to deal with life, to manage the difficult situations and learn from them – our essence, the truth of who we are.

Every single day we’re witnessing, reading or hearing about things that we may find very disturbing, but perhaps feel unable to change, we’re confronted with situations that may make us feel uncomfortable and maybe we agree to things we really don’t want to do, or we’re provoked to a point where we say things we don’t actually feel. All these moments, build up incrementally so it’s not surprising that we crave something to stop the tension – whether that be chocolate, a gym work out, alcohol, binging on Netflix, diving into a novel, smoking, whatever it is, there is a sense of urgency about having a fix and numbing out as quickly as possible.

At some point we start to clock that giving in to the ‘fix’ is just burying our heads in the sand, and that at some point we will have to face up to the reality that we will continue to experience the tension, we can’t avoid it. Rather than continuing to ‘abuse’ ourselves with our addiction perhaps our ‘way out’ is to deepen our relationship with ourselves, to choose to take better care of our bodies, to make more loving choices. We could consider the possibility that allowing ourselves to be vulnerable could be a strength, and that when we express ourselves in moments of tension we’re backed up by what we know to be true from the livingness of our body, allowing us to share the truth of how we feel in these difficult and challenging situations, rather than using our addictions to avoid them.

Whatever our ‘addiction’, and whilst some may have been perceived by society to be more physically, psychologically or emotionally harmful than others, could it be that they all have the same effect of disconnecting us from our body, our source of truth that is our greatest strength?

Addictions - same, same but different.

Further Reading

Gaming Addiction

Parenting doesn't start with the child

Short-term respite versus long-term gain

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Understanding your gamer