Addiction is a word that can inspire great fear in people, however today we are beginning to see a shift. Although it's true that addictions can be dangerous and even deadly, it's also true that we have come a long way in the understanding and treatment of this dis-ease. There is much hope in what previously was a hopeless situation.
First we'll take a moment to understand what addiction is. According to medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com, it's defined as a persistent, compulsive dependence on a behavior or substance. Also mentioning that addiction is a progressive syndrome, which means that it increases in severity over time unless it is treated.
Addiction takes many forms, some of them obvious and some of them not. The more common addictions are alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, sex, gambling, relationships, nicotine, work, attention, isolation, exercise, and the internet. The actual list could go on almost infinitely since the problem is a compulsive dependence on a behavior or substance. The common denominator being an inability to stop a behavior that's become detrimental to one's life.
Looking deeper into addictive behavior we can see the problem is that life is unmanageable without turning to the addiction to manage the pain. The problem isn't the substance or behavior, the problem is the fact that people need to turn to those substances or behaviors because life is unmanageable without them. This is the core of the problem.
When someone is willing to hurt or hinder themselves in order to fulfill a need, there is a lack of self-love. No one would consciously hurt someone they care about...especially themselves. Which brings us to a key word - “conscious”. Although an addict may have varying levels of consciousness concerning WHAT they're doing, they are not fully conscious of WHY they're doing it or HOW to stop. Again, if they had a conscious “choice” they wouldn't be choosing destruction and turmoil over peace.
Walking towards recovery consists of getting a clear understanding of why turning to the addiction is necessary, shifting the current perspective and finding a better way of dealing with life. This is done by looking at the present, processing the past and learning a new way to deal with the future.
The truth is different people get caught up at different places within the journey of recovery. Sometimes it's the “what am I doing to myself and those I love?” or the “why am I doing it?”, many times it's the “how do I stop?”. Last but not least it's the “okay, I've stopped but now what? How do I learn to live without the behavior or substance I leaned on so strongly?”.
To understand how these questions can be answered, it's important to grasp the importance of getting an outside perspective. This is explained in Einstein's quote: “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.”. Previously the processing of life and it's dilemmas has been done in a way that led the person into an addiction. This is what they know, this is how they think. The treatment lies in learning new avenues of consciousness, new ways of looking at things, new ways of Being. The old way of doing things isn't working so now it's time to find a new way of doing things. The only way to do that is to learn a new way from a different consciousness, a different person who is having success looking at things in a different light. It's important to note that often times people are able to connect more easily with someone that has experienced the common emotional turmoil that an addiction carries with it...someone that has walked in their shoes and found a more successful way of Being.
As we know the problem of addiction is real, it is rampant in our culture and there is much work to be done in this area to help those afflicted as well as the loved ones affected. Fortunately, hope exists and so does recovery! We as a people have an innate need for community...this is because we need each other to thrive. If addiction is affecting you or a loved one, reach outside of your current paradigm to others that understand addictions and the process of recovery. We are here to help and for many people it's their life mission.