By Brandon Pedersen, PLMHP, PLADC
As an addictions counselor, some people come and expect me to fix their addiction. Yet, “fixing” an addiction is not always that simple. Let me explain.
First off, addictions are defined as the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice. Something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming. (Dictionary.com)
Addictions have a number of different components. I will explain them simply.
Addictions come from people’s efforts to cope with trauma, negative emotions, undeveloped coping skills, and stress. Addictions are typically failed attempts to overcome a particular trial faced throughout life. Leading to becoming enslaved to a behavior/coping mechanism.
In light of this, people who are trying to quit their addiction will go “cold turkey.” Sometimes this seems successful. They will often substitute their addiction with something else. This is because the addictive behavior serves a purpose for the person. It may reduce stress, take away pain, or numb emotions. Taking away an addictive behavior may reduce a person’s negative consequences, but it will leave the real issue very much alive.
I have not met a person dealing with addictions that did not have some emotional burden. This emotional baggage is often times the real issue. As a society, we really have not been taught how to deal with our emotions. Two important things to remember are 1. Emotions need to be identified. and 2. Emotions need to be expressed.
Once a person is able to identify and express their emotions appropriately and consistently, they can obtain the power to deal with their inner-self without the aid of an enslaving, addictive behavior.
Overcoming addiction is far from easy but it is possible, with good tools, support, encouragement, and a willingness to start unpacking the emotional baggage.
Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash