What is an addiction?
By Eva Angvert
I heard once, “Addiction is any behavior you have to lie about.”
I agree. In my world, addiction means any type of repetitive action we do to avoid the body’s dis-ease and dis-comfort.
When the behavior reaches a point at which we find ourselves lying about it (“I can’t come to the party; I’m sick.”), we have crossed the line between “I do it because I like it!” to “I do it because I have to.”
Hi, my name is Eva...
For more than 30+ years, I have guided clients through emotional difficulties, addictive habits, anxiety, and depression to successfully move beyond their limiting beliefs about themselves and their possibilities.
I also believe that addiction is an action we take to distract our Self from our internal pain…to numb, soothe, and / or block the emotional, psychological, somatic…even spiritual torment we may be experiencing.
When I was growing up, we didn’t discuss how we felt. If I were angry, sad, or anything in between, I was told, “You shouldn’t feel like that.” Well, I did…still do…sometimes!
No one told me it was okay to feel…at all.
Consequently, I understood that there was something wrong with me. Because I felt things, and obviously others didn’t.
My first addiction was ice cream. I couldn’t wait until I could get more. I couldn’t eat it slowly.
I inhaled it and wanted more and more and more. Anything I ate would, for the moment, distract me from my dis-ease. But, then I would fall back into my dis-ease and want “more”.
As I became a teenager, I learned how to smoke and needed more cigarettes.
And my first drink, a glass of red wine, didn’t taste that good, but wow…I loved the effect! The wine more effectively numbed the dis-ease and dis-comfort I felt than any ice cream or cigarettes ever did. So…I wanted more!
I was 13 years old when I had that first glass of wine and I couldn’t wait until the next opportunity to get numb, to not feel the weird tension, itches, pressure, heat, cold, hollowness…to get a break from my thoughts!
This relationship with alcohol lasted until I was 32 years old.
During those years, I was held hostage by the numbness, by the wonderful void in my body that came with the alcohol.
And I learned to recognize what was easier to drink, what drink could get me numb the fastest. Again…more!
After a few years the alcohol wasn’t enough, and I was introduced to cocaine. Now, I could drink even more.
How addiction makes us into liars
Remember: Addiction can be any behavior we need to lie about, to hide, to justify, and tell our Self, “I got this; I know what I’m doing.”
And…even a “good behavior” can become an addiction when it’s distracting us from our dis-ease and dis-comfort, and…our responsibilities in relationships, at work, any part of our lives.
These “good behaviors” often come with hundreds of excuses and reasons to continue them…until they no longer work to distract us.
The dis-ease starts to creep back in, and our addictions need to get turned up to have any effect at all.
We need more…more exercise, outings, meditation, workshops, golf, video games, hiking, traveling, more…whatever.
“Wait!” you may say, “Are you telling me these hobbies are addictions?”
Only you can know that for your Self. Stop the activity, whatever it is, for a month and examine how you feel, behave, and function without it. Is your mood changing, are you pleasant to be around; how are you functioning?
Only you can tell. But you might need feedback from others who really know you.
How do we know when something has become addictive?
How do we recognize that it’s time to look at our behaviors?
When our addictions function as devices to “get out” of dis-ease and dis-comfort, they may never help us find body-mind peace.
Some people will even go on to the bitter end justifying their behaviors. Their pain might be too great for them to find the willingness to look at it…
…unless…it hurts too much not to.
When the price we’re paying for getting numb is greater and more painful than the dis-ease itself…
…then…we might be willing to stop repeating the behavior.
When the addictions “turn on us” and no longer numb our dis-ease, our dis-comfort, our pain, when we wake up and see what our addictions truly cost us, we are forced to make a decision.
Depending on the severity of our addictions, the price we pay for staying in them may differ.
Feelings of loneliness and isolation, consequences for our behavior, broken relationships, job loss, and the like.
How do we address what creates our dis-comfort?
When you begin to suspect that you are addicted to, for example, cigarettes, wait 10 minutes before you light up.
Tell yourself, “I’m going to have a cigarette…in 10 minutes. However, right now, I’m going to write down how I feel…what I am thinking. I’m going to identify the sensations in my body.”
Small steps, right? Don’t think that you’re going to quit forever.
That thought might just scare you into continuing to smoke.
Then, after the 10 minutes, by all means, light up, but at least you’ll know your “why”.
Stopping and riding the wave of your sensations will show you that it’s only a wave. It will pass.
Ending one addiction may help you see that you have others (like me after ending alcohol and drugs, and finding my other addictions showing up – cigarettes, food…). But, remember: One thing at a time.
The more able you are to ride that wave of your cravings, the more addictions you will find you can resolve.
We will talk about other addictions (internet, phone, porn, and those “good ones” I spoke of earlier) in future blog articles.
In the meantime, if you’re thinking you might be addicted to something – anything – please give contact me and we can talk about it.