Although it’s not absolutely necessary, it can be helpful for people to understand the origins of their addictions.
Of course the first thing that one must do is own the fact that they have an addiction; many people won't do so. I often encounter people who drink excessively and claim they don't have a problem or that they can quit whenever they want to.
Many people don't understand the nature of addictions and dependencies. Such people might concede that addictions to substances such as alcohol or cigarettes constitute dependency, but that addictions to smart phones, worry, anxiety, spending, sex, and other things do not.
Dependencies to nearly anything have negative side effects of various sorts. An addiction can intoxicate your chemistry, damage your liver, harm your lungs, or alienates you from close relationships. Your dependency may be making it difficult for you to feel connected to your mind and body. The consequences of your dependency will make it difficult for you to live your life as you were designed to live it. We should be on this earth to create, be happy, and make valuable connections to our own inner world and with the creatures that we share the planet with.
It's a waste of life to just manage anxiety and push off depression. Rather than do so, it's best to just ask yourself what the cause of all your difficulty is. You need to analyze your life's behavior. When you do so, you'll likely find that your problems, like those of most others, began in your youth.
Something went wrong in the upbringing of most of us. We had fractures and ruptures in our development. We may have lived extraordinary lives. In fact, some of the most accomplished people in the world were Alcoholics and addicts.
Many who quit something such as drinking or smoking subsequently move on to other dependencies. Those other dependencies might include eating problems, relationship problems, or workaholism.
This begs the question of why it's so difficult to master the original problem of dependency to anything. The difficulty is rooted in faulty brain functionality. Events in our past have affected us in such a way that we cannot effectively solve mental and emotional problems unless we “rewire” our own brains. The good news is that we can do so. If we're truthful with ourselves, we can find the inspiration that we need to do the work that we need to do to fix ourselves.
Difficulties in childhood are among the primary reasons that we have mental and emotional difficulties that we need to address. Another primary reason is that life in the modern world is such that it distracts from knowledge of the truth about ourselves.
We're missing the proper tools that we need to help us heal mentally and emotionally. We can get those tools, though, and the tools are essentially processes that we must put into place. We will need to educate ourselves and rewire our brains, indoctrinating ourselves with principles of psychology and changing certain aspects of our philosophy of life as well as our behavior.
Doing those things is difficult, and the amount of time that it takes to do them is different for every individual. Changing our behavior patterns is key, and the reason that that’s not easy is that we are creatures of habit. When we do things over and over again, it's very hard (and even against our nature to a degree) to stop doing them. Something has to be very compelling to force us to stop engaging in bad habits.
The compelling event or series of events that will undergird such behavioral change is called “hitting bottom.” An addicted person must become so unhappy with their situation that they will fight their addiction tooth and nail despite their predisposition to indulge in it.
Addictions and dependencies are fueled by character problems. When we reach for an addictive substance or indulge in an addictive behavior, we do so because of a weakness in our character. Perhaps we don't tolerate boredom well. Maybe when we encounter stress or pressure of some sort we don't tolerate that well. Those and a great many other things are character problems, and those character problems are in turn driven by a missing connection with self.
I'd like to speak about my youth to give some detail about what I mean by a missing connection with self. In my teens I didn't like my own body or my own face. I even obsessed about whether or not I was going to lose my hair when I got older. I was uncomfortable in my own skin, and I had to find ways to soothe that anxiety and comfort myself.
In those days I did not have the mental fortitude, honesty, or strength of character to trace my anxieties to earlier stages of life in which I didn't feel as if I belonged and didn't feel as if I was accepted. I didn't feel nurturance, consistency, reliability, and love in my household. People made fun of me in different stages of my childhood.
Growing up in California, I got messages from society that I was inadequate because I was not a blonde-haired, blue-eyed surfer. I desperately wanted to fit in when I was a child, but I didn't. I had so much self-doubt and I was very insecure. The feelings became very painful, and it was just a matter of time before I would choose to act out to try to soothe that pain.
Why didn't I turn to art or music or some other constructive endeavor trying to soothe that pain? To a degree that had to do with my surroundings. My father drank alcohol, smoked, overate, was a rageaholic, gambler, womanizer, workaholic, and lover of money. He indulged in other behaviors that I considered to be dysfunctional as well (based on what I observed about how those behaviors affected him). His friends had similar behaviors, and I was continually surrounded by people who were obsessed with money.
My relationship with my mother was dysfunctional as well. I don't have a single recollection of her sitting down with me and calmly asking how I felt about anything. I have many recollections of seeing her unhappy, worried, and overly emotional. I don't remember receiving any important life lessons from my mother.
My dad was quite different. He was a philosopher who had endless opinions and ideas about things. He was in therapy as far back as I can remember. He was a peaceful man, fortunately, and I think that if he had not been in psychoanalysis he probably would have committed suicide.
Those were my parents. Who were yours? As painful as it might be, it's an important piece of the puzzle of your psyche to understand who your parents were and what they did. The purpose of doing so is not to assign blame. It is to do research regarding how you developed to uncover deep wounds within you and then come to a place of healing.
Sometimes such wounds are not that obvious. I've seen remarkable families characterized by tremendous love, safety, and support who were still plagued with mental sickness among its members. This can be the case simply because the human mind is fragile, particularly when it's in its early stages of development.
Nearly everyone had a dysfunctional childhood to some degree. Often subconsciously, we try to repair the mental and emotional discomfort that our dysfunctional childhoods caused us. Addiction is one method of repair.
Addiction works—for a while. If it didn't, we would not become addicts. Addictions have a positive effect on us for limited periods of time.
Addictions have been a part of human behavior since the beginning of time. And addictions have evolved as human beings have become more clever. I think that 500 years from now we will be addicted to things and behaviors that we don't even dream of today.
Ever since humans became conscious, thinking creatures, they have sought to change their chemistry by using substances. This is normal, and understandable, because we have to take things into our bodies in order to survive. For example, we need to drink water. Water has an enormous impact on our chemistry. but one cannot have an addiction to pure, clean, non-toxic water.
But it's a different story if you add some roasted coffee beans to water. When you do so, you have a powerful chemistry-altering and mood-altering substance. It stimulates your body and your mind.
Consider alcohol. In the beginning it's a great connector of body and mind. This is in part because it blurs and numbs emotional stress. That attracts us to the substance. But it is toxic, and we put ourselves in denial of alcohol’s toxic effects when we use it to excess.
The body and mind are united in a very real sense. But they can come apart. The mind will drift. We then become so wrapped up in the mind’s activity that we can no longer feel the world.
Under certain circumstances the mind and consciousness are not at home in our bodies. That situation begs the question of when the separation occurred. Was it because of a single moment in childhood, or a series of events that occurred over many years? And we also have to ask ourselves if we ever remember being happy and connected.
We can come to understand why our minds and consciousness and bodies became separated. When we do so we can reunite them. We can move towards unity within ourselves and achieve happiness. The process of causing the reuniting to happen will entail hard work, but it will be work that we can take great pride and joy in. When we understand the origins of our addictions we can then overcome them.