The cause of addiction can see obvious. We are living in a world that fosters it. We are addicted to our smart phones, to social media to TV, to exercise. Addiction serves a purpose: it keeps us out of our feelings, it keeps us safe. In addiction we are being controlled (by the substance or process) but we are out of control because we are at a loss to stop it. There is a stigma attached to much addictive behaviour that increases our tendency to deny it and not seek help.
Forms of addiction
Addiction comes in many forms. Some is substance related:
- Recreational or street drugs
- Prescription or OTC drugs
- Legal substances – alcohol, caffeine, pain killers, nicotine etc.
Some is activity related:
- TV, internet, social media
- destructive relationships
- food, sugar
- tattoos or piercings
Addiction gives us a temporary relief or pleasure. But it doesn’t not last long. Moreover, in the long term causes you (and/or others) harm. Addiction becomes a problem if it is taking up more and more of your time, attention or money.
When we do get caught in addictive patterns, it is because it is actually serving us in some way to meet unmet needs. Looking at it this way, addiction has good intentions but it does not serve us well at all.
Good feelings through escape
We invest our energy in addiction because it gives us a feeling of empowerment or peace, perhaps a chance to escape, or calmness, relief from (emotional) pain. Addiction is a source of comfort, oblivion, escape (not least from our own mind). But these benefits are very short-lived.
In order to overcome addiction, we need to recognise what deeper, unconscious need that addiction is serving in us and then decide we need to and want to change. Change will only happen if the ‘positive intention’ it gives us is honoured and we are able to make that which is unconscious, conscious.
It is here that psychotherapy can help.
Contact me to find out more.