Addiction as a symptom.

Addiction as a symptom.

Asking the simple question to someone who suffers from addiction "What does the drink/drug give you?" can give us an insight into the driver behind addiction. A recent conversation on this with someone where I asked this question, the answer was a very standard answer.

They stated "it gives me a sense of being accepted, helps me to relax, and stops me from feeling lonely."

Although it may be framed in different ways, the answer is always along the same lines. I get to be myself, I feel like I belong, it stops the pain, I feel connected etc.

So I pointed to the fact during this conversation that is the drug/drink really the problem then? Isn't the addiction to the drug/drink just a symptom of the fact you don't feel accepted, you can't relax and you suffer from a sense of loneliness and isolation? If those things (drivers) where gone, would you have a compulsion to use your drug of choice? If you could naturally relax, if you felt accepted and connected, the drink/drug would loose its desirability, you may still choose to use at times, but the uncontrollable compulsion (which is the addiction) would disappear.

Its important to see that in this situation, someone isn't really craving the drink/drug, what they are truly craving is rest (relaxation) feeling connected and accepted. They are craving freedom from pain. And lets not skip over the fact that drugs and alcohol (or even certain behaviours) are very very good at stopping the pain.

These feelings of pain, loneliness, shame and isolation are so deeply conditioned within our unconscious that most of the time we are not even aware they are there. We are unaware that they drive most of our lives, not only addictions, but if we look very closely seeking relief from these feelings is what drives most of humanity.

As long as we keep denying this fact, and continue to avoid these energies we will always have something we use to avoid ourselves and we will never experience true freedom.

The more we go INTO our pain on a somatic level and meet these energies, the more we work through these layers of conditioning, the more compulsive behaviours drop away by themselves.

Otherwise we just end up swapping one addiction for another, or swapping one identity for another, never being able to just rest in the present moment. Because when we truly become present the first thing we usually meet is our carried pain, which is also the reason we stay lost in the past or the future, in thinking and thinking, as a way to keep us safe from what lies dormant within us.

If we keep this in mind when talking to someone who is suffering addiction, we can treat them with compassion and understanding and start to accept what they are doing instead of condemning it and actually adding to the shame and the pain that lives within that person, we can start to help this person heal.


Matt Nettleton

Senior NRAM Facilitator and Trainer.

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