What is addiction?
“A person with an addiction uses a substance, or engages in a behavior, for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeat the activity, despite detrimental consequences. Addiction may involve the use of substances such as alcohol, inhalants, opioids, cocaine, and nicotine, or behaviors such as gambling” (Psychology Today, n.d.-b, para. 1).
There is no shortage of theories about what causes addiction. “There is not just one cause: although genetic or other biological factors can contribute to a person’s vulnerability to the condition, many social, psychological, and environmental factors also have a powerful influence on substance use (Psychology Today, n.d.-b, para.9)
My role is not to figure out the cause of addiction in this blog post. One thing for certain is that addiction can be a way of coping with one’s inner world and struggles. That is at the core of why some people use substances or behaviours addictively.
How does one recover from substance misuse? There are myriad programs that may be helpful, but they may not work for everyone. If people are misusing substances and behaviours to numb their feelings, then it would seem logical that they need to deal with the pain they are avoiding, process the experiences that have led them to addiction, and find better ways to manage those experiences. For some, addiction programs are enough; however, for many they are not.
This is where therapy comes in. Often, professional support tailored to the individual is what helps. One clear example of this is those who have had trauma in their lives. Often, they use substances and behaviours to deal with the trauma they have faced. Traumatized people require deep work with a qualified counsellor to assist with the processing of their experiences.
Therapy was the key to my healing. I had tried various programs and went to over 13 addiction treatment centres. I then sought out therapy and learned how to better cope and process my internal demons. That is how I began my recovery. I needed to work with someone who saw me for more than my addiction and knew that addiction was just a way I had learned to cope. I needed to work on the underlying issues that I was running from, so I no longer needed the coping mechanism of addiction.
Psychology Today (n.d.-a). Causes of addiction. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/basics/addiction/causes-addiction
Psychology Today (n.d.-b). What is addiction? https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/basics/addiction