Ok, maybe not everyone, but chances are if you’re reading this, you’re very likely an addict. Don’t worry, though, you’re in good company. So am I.
What is addiction?
Before I answer that, let me offer the requisite disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner, and nothing I say should be interpreted as medical advice. You are responsible for your own well-being, and I strongly encourage you to do your own research before taking any course of action as far as your health is concerned.
Addiction, in terms of how we encounter it in hypnotherapy, is a pattern of behavior that has developed in order to desensitize the self to some pain, trauma or unmet need. For clarity sake, I choose to differentiate this from dependency, which can develop from the use/abuse of certain chemical substances. The two do not necessarily go hand in hand. A person can have a habitual addiction to, for example, browsing the internet, but there isn’t a chemical change in the body that causes dependency on Google Chrome. Likewise a type 1 diabetic may be chemically dependent on insulin injections, but no reasonable person would call them an addict.
Setting dependency aside, addiction is fundamentally about numbing, usually unconsciously. Often when the behavior causes unwanted problems (a food addict gaining weight is a common example) the person will consciously try to change their habits. Under the surface, though, the subconscious mind often sabotages these efforts because to release the addiction means to stop the numbing. And so the person experiences repeated failures to effect the change they want simply because they’re arguing with their own subconscious mind.
Drugs vs. Medicine
Stop. Reread the disclaimer above.
In my practice, I use these terms a little more deliberately than some people. A drug is the object of the addiction (i.e., food, internet, sex, alcohol, etc.). By using the drug (which is not always a substance) we continue to numb the underlying emotions and reinforce the addiction. Medicine, on the other hand, is a term I use for that which helps us to treat that underlying emotional issue. The tricky thing is, what might be a drug for one person could be medicine for another. A small amount of alcohol might help someone with social anxiety to face their fears, while another person might drink to forget that same social anxiety.
So what’s the fundamental difference between drugs and medicine (in this reference frame)? Intention. Everything comes down to intention. “But the road to hell is paved with good intentions” I hear you saying. No, the road to hell is paved with excuses. “I meant to teach my children better, but I was always too busy.” The intention here is a good one, and no one would have a beef with this person if that was where it ended. It’s the “but” that turns things south. Positive intention is the seed in every act of healing or progress. So the next time you see someone engaging in a behavior that would be a drug for you, remember that you can’t see their intention. Keep your compassion at the ready.
Treating The Addict Within
“So if everyone’s an addict, we’re screwed, right?” Not at all. Unless you’re addicted to excuses. Yes, that’s a real thing. Believe me.
What it comes down to is the intention to heal. Don’t think it can be that easy? It isn’t. While it’s not complicated by any means, it does require two things that can take time to cultivate: courage and willingness. Most people that come into my office think that I can just reprogram them to hate their drug and they’ll be cured. The truth is, depending on the client, I probably could, but they wouldn’t be cured. Removing the drug simply causes the emotional discomfort to return with a vengeance, so after a painful transition they will almost certainly take up a new drug to numb it back down again.
For an addict to find lasting remission requires the courage to acknowledge the addiction and seek help, and the willingness to face those painful emotions in a way that they can be healed and released. If there is nothing to numb, the behavior falls away almost effortlessly. The good news is that medicine (including a good hypnotherapist!) can help to ease that healing process and make it much less painful.
Building Up A Tolerance
With the veritable smorgasbord of drugs at our disposal, you might be surprised to hear that we’re starting to see drugs losing their efficacy for some people. The behavior or substance doesn’t numb like it used to, and the emotions begin coming to the surface without invitation. This can be a terrifying experience. You might feel like you’re losing your mind. Listen to me: take a deep breath and chase it with another one. You are not losing your mind. Your soul is simply tired of carrying the weight of this pain and is going to let go of it with or without your help.
At this turning point you can invest in “better” drugs, or in healing. The drugs might buy you some time, but will make the recovery harder when it does come (and it will). If, however, you can find some courage and willingness within yourself to take your life back, we would be honored to be a part of your healing.
Are you struggling with an addiction, or is your addiction falling apart on you? Give us a call and schedule a free consultation!