Addictions are just coping mechanisms that have gotten out of control.
Heal your pain, heal your addiction.
You’ve gotta be willing to feel it, in order to heal it…
Substances help us “not feel the feels” – so god bless ’em…until things get sideways and new issues emerge as a result.
No one starts off smack in the middle of an addiction.
Our need for our drug of choice (I like to say coping mechanism of choice) is a pretty natural response to numbing out pain we aren’t usually aware is there.
We all have pain, and I believe we ALL have ways in which we avoid it – there are some pain avoidance mechanisms that are more socially acceptable than others. For instance exercise can be an avoidance mechanism for some – even though it is healthy and “good for you” – if you are working out to avoid feeling or dealing with something, it has become maladaptive. Because you are at the gym (and not the bar) society isn’t gonna raise an eye brow and judge you, thereby you are less likely to judge yourself.
The same goes for substance use. For example, alcohol is readily accessible and marketed to us as a form of relaxation, enjoyment + reward. And it can be all these things – but used in excess can become a pain avoidance mechanism, so much so that it can hinder our ability to meet our commitments, interfere with interpersonal relationships and certainly effect our overall health. This coping mechanism does raise eye-brows, and can incur judgement from self + others.
In both of the above scenarios, a person is using a substance or behavior to avoid something, albeit the 1st predominantly supports over all health and the 2nd detracts from it. If you find yourself in a sideways relationship with a substance (or behavior), it’s time to look at what you are running from.
The key to freedom from your addictive behavioral choices is to take a honest look at what is causing you pain, release it in a safe + effective way and replace your old ways of being with new, more supportive ones.
Healing from our pain allows us the capacity to release these coping mechanisms that are hindering us from thriving, and experiencing all that life has to offer.
Judging, shaming and labeling our over-use of substances to help cope with our pain doesn’t help us to heal – because from that vantage point we just continue to believe that there is something wrong with us – something incredibly broken that must be fixed.
I approach this work with an open mind, curiosity, and gentle (yet direct) feedback and questions on what I observe based on what I know from a clinical and personal standpoint. No one likes to be told what to do, so don’t expect that. Do expect a supportive healing practitioner who won’t let you hide behind old thought + behavioral patterns that have kept you stuck.
Stop judging yourself (because I certainly won’t!) and reach out for support.