What is addiction?
Many of us can become engaged in activities or use substances without any significant difficulties in our lives. However, some of us may reach a point where we experience a lack of control over what we are taking, doing or using. In other words, we are unable to change our behavior, regardless of the harmful effects, it has on our lives, whether we are aware of them or not. Consequently, we find ourselves completely dependent on substances or repetitive unwanted behavior. We may want to give up or quit but find it extremely difficult to do so without help. Dependencies and addictions can be the cause of a wide range of issues in our life in all its dimensions: physically, personally, socially and spiritually.
People can be addicted to any one or more substances such as alcohol, illegal drugs, food, prescribed medication, coffee, nicotine, sugar, chocolate, and so on, or to something physically and mentally stimulating such as work, sex, physical exercise, gambling or other stimulants. We use substances and engage in stimulating behavior for various personal reasons. The manner, frequency, and reason we use them define the nature of our addictions. These reasons need to be addressed in a therapy room before the individual is willing to make changes. Addictions are complex in nature. We may choose to deal with our addictions by changing our relationship to them in a rapid and dramatic way or more gradually in a series of small steps. Most people with addictions are filled with ambivalence. In other words, parts of them want to continue using or abusing substances and parts of them want to change. These different voices, modes or selves we have will be addressed throughout the therapy process and invited to speak. Although addictions are often rooted in inner pain, fear, confusion and trauma the addiction process works on two dimensions. One which is concerned with control issues and the process of change, and another which is concerned with the underlying disturbance and pain that fuels it. Our therapeutic relationship and work will involve a) addressing our memories, stories, and ‘looking back’ at unresolved experiences from the past; b) confronting our fears, dreads and experiences of inner attack that govern the present; and c) envisioning and taking brave action to create a new, healthier and better future for ourselves.