In our society, when the word “addiction” gets brought up, it is most often associated with the extremes of drugs and alcohol. Truth is, anything can be an addiction: sex, shopping, working out, food, it is an addiction if it is habitual and is used as a means of escape. That escape is different for everyone. Both internal and external issues that are avoided can lead to addictions.
I have had my share of addictions throughout the course of my life, both personal and through friends and family. I can say that my eating disorder qualified as an addiction. I was obsessed with counting calories and working out. I needed, I craved that fix because I had low self-esteem and used this addiction as a means of control in my life. I dated an addict whose fix was marijuana and sex, both used as an escape for inner issues. I have had friends who were deemed “shopaholics”. My grandfather was a recovering AA member for over thirty years. I wasn’t kidding when I said I have come in contact with a lot of addicts. But this isn’t shocking. A large portion of our society has an unhealthy addiction of some sort that is causing them unhappiness. These problems aren’t easy to overcome. They can have physical and psychological side affects and more often than not, the addict is in a state of denial about even having an addiction, or the severity of their problem, even when the problem festers and spreads to one or more areas of their life: career, friends and family, romance, etc.
A key to identifying and working on one’s addictions is self-awareness. Ask yourself, when I am having negative thoughts and feelings, what do I turn to as a means of relaxation? Is this healthy? Why do I do this? Is this because of problems at work/home? Low self-esteem? Asking yourself these and other internal questions can help pin-point the addiction and reasons as to why you are turning to this unhealthy coping device. Self-awareness should be a daily task. It may take a while for your brain to get use to asking yourself questions and reflecting, especially if you’re not used to doing so, but like every skill, it takes practice and time, so be patient with yourself!
When you start realizing you are turning to your addiction, it is important to replace this unhealthy coping strategy with positive ones. When I was feeling depressed/anxious, instead of turning to my addiction, I started writing my feelings and thoughts in my journal, going on walks in nature, painting, and crafting. These were healthy ways to release my negative emotions and I felt better when I used these coping skills than when I turned to my addiction and was left with the guilt and shame afterwards.
A part of my belief is that, while making the shift from unhealthy to healthy coping skills is a positive change in overcoming an addiction, it is still a coping skill used to avoid an issue (just in a better, less destructive way). I am not saying you shouldn’t have positive coping skills, I am just saying recovery doesn’t stop there. You must figure out what these problems are that you are avoiding. Time for more self-reflecting! Figured out what causes you that discomfort? Time to take action and face your problems. Easier said than done, believe me, I know. It took me about three years of battling an addiction and trying to recover in the process. I didn’t do it alone. I had the support of my loved ones and help from professionals to get to the healthy state of where I am today. I’d recommend counseling or further help for anyone struggling with an addiction. It can be a tough battle to overcome alone, but it is worth it to keep fighting. You are worth it! When we overcome our addictions, we are balancing our root chakra, thus allowing us to move up in working on the other aspects of ourselves, which brings us closer to bliss, happiness and enlightenment. It all starts somewhere, why not start today?!
We numb ourselves from our struggles, fears and problems. So many repress these issues and turn to addictions to numb our minds from our troubles. But the thoughts always return. No object is going to make how we feel inside or our worries go away. Finding peace within yourself takes courage. It takes strength to face your fears, to look within yourself and find acceptance. Only then will the pain stay away.
Peace and love in your recovery process.