Of course, that’s an extremely simplified answer to what can be a very complicated problem, but it doesn’t matter if you’re addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, shopping, food, whatever. These things are the blanket of comfort you turn to when life is out of control, painful, or you’re angry.
Addicts engage in this type of behavior because they literally get a chemical high from their “drug of choice”. There is a momentary feeling of, “ahh, that feels better” as the chemicals rush to the brain to calm whatever uncomfortable emotions were beginning to surface.
Unfortunately, this rush doesn’t last and the more addicts turn to an outside source for comfort, the bigger that comfort has to be the next time they turn to it. This is why addictions are so destructive. No longer is it a glass of wine to relax, it’s a bottle of wine before every social situation. A line of cocaine doesn’t do it anymore, now several are needed to get the same high. When a piece of cake used to do the trick, now the whole cake needs to be eaten in order to feel better.
The cycle goes on and on and on and for someone with an addictive personality, it can be extremely difficult to release this type of behavior because often it has gone on for so long, it has become a habit. The person engaging in this behavior may no longer even remember why they started doing it in the first place and it finally reaches a point where the addict can no longer control their behavior. Their auto-pilot takes over and before they know it, they are drunk, high, gambling, etc. The guilt that follows is often so debilitating, that the addict just keeps the cycle going.
The key to any successful recovery program is to first identify the addiction, then uncover the trigger, and finally get to the root of the feeling that lives at the heart of the addiction – that first hurt.
If an addict is willing to really, truly look at themselves and their issues, then real recovery is possible. But it takes a lot of courage and a supportive nurturing environment to help the addict feel comfortable enough to forgive themselves – which is ultimately what needs to happen to overcome the addiction.
A little self-love and forgiveness can go a long way.