(Read this even if you’re Not an addict, read if you’re open-minded)
Addiction comes in many forms-
Overeating, Alcohol, Gambling, Drugs, TV, and the list goes on.
I believe an addiction becomes an addiction when it starts to have a self-sabotaging effect on the user. Unfortunately one of the sinister effects often of addiction is to convince the user that the addictive pattern of behavior is not having a negative effect on them personally. Often to the extent where the negative and harmful effects of the addiction are visible to everyone, except the user.
Having been here myself, I can understand how easy and repeatable addictive behavior is, but also how long term, it stops you from fully realizing how awesome your life can be in every moment.
Upon reflection of my life today, I can at least share that in my experience, the magic of life is in its sober moments, and realizing you can have all the experiences you desire within sobriety.
At one point in life, I would have thought that the sentence I just wrote was incredibly lame. But, back then, I guess I just didn’t know how good life could, and should be without getting inebriated in some form or another.
1. What is an addiction?
John Demartini defines addiction as: –
‘Self-sabotaging Habitual patterns of behavior that are used to fill the void between the fantasy and reality of your life.’
What I have found in my personal experience is this:-
We may want our lives to be a certain way. When the truth is that they are not this way, which creates pain for us, and subsequently, we ‘escape’ the reality of our lives via patterns of behavior that can become self-sabotaging.
I think behaviors become self-sabotaging when they are used as escapism on a consistent basis. Whether that’s daily, weekly or monthly.
That it becomes a problem when the user uses the addictive behavior instead of dealing with the thing that isn’t as they would like in their life head-on.
2. How addiction forms in the brain
When you seek chemical relief (so to speak), from your problems, you are effectively hardwiring your brain to deal with difficult moments in your life with things that can turn into self-sabotaging patterns of behavior.
In layman neuroscience terms, think of these neural pathways as starting off as little rope bridges, hardly noticeable, then over time, getting thicker and stronger, before eventually, they become thick set highways, then eventually, you got a motorway of neural hardwiring that is set to deal with certain problems with the solution of a certain behavior (eg drinking), which manifests itself as a very strong addiction.
Problems/Stress is met with an overpowering desire to repeat addictive behavior.
3. I believe that the real impact of addiction whether conscious or not is that the addict uses his/her substance to escape life, rather than trying to deal with its challenges.
I feel dealing that being able to deal with challenges is the most important thing for success in life. The better you get at it, the happier you can be.
I think we all need some form of escapism from time to time, and not taking that escapism too far to have a negative impact on our lives is a delicate balancing act, and down to personal judgment.
I know at the time of learning the things I have written here, that these thoughts were useful to me. Especially at a time when I was hitting the bottle way more often than I should have been (yes I know I am a personal trainer but I am human also).
Coming back to what I have written here has reminded me of a few things that perhaps I had forgotten.
Life can be great my friends.
Let’s embrace it.