Anatomy of Addiction

Why do some people choose self-destructive addictions?

Some people are just born unsettled, ill at ease with themselves, expecting so much that eventually they just throw in the towel. The pain of failure is too great.

Any addiction in some way lessens our sense of inadequacy. Extreme-housecleaning or obsession with becoming the absolute best in a sport to the detriment of the rest of our lives gives temporary relief; pleasure such as food, drink, sex, escapist reading or watching TV all can deflect us from facing our fears about ourselves. Some of us become addicted to drama by overreacting emotionally to anything even slightly alarming as an excuse to curl up emotionally in a fetal position and expect others to rescue us from any real or imagined dangers.  And any of these can move from just a way to relieve stress or feel better about ourselves to a need, an automatic response to unease or pain or fear: an addiction.

Some psychological addictions can be as hard to break as ones that develop a physical component. Some of us simply have addictive tendencies and may just have to work to find one that has the least self-destructive side effects and has the least negative fallout for others.
We can find relief in many acceptable ways to keep our demons at bay. I simply don’t know if we can get perfectly free of them.

One thing I have realized is that some of us not only feel basically inadequate, we fear that we are literally broken and live with a sense that we may at any time fall into the pit of despair or insanity.

Even alcoholism seems preferable to that, because there’s always a hope that you can manage to quit drinking, but you are not sure that you can quit being crazy once you get too out of control. Sometimes the only way to get past that is to go down into your inner bottomless pit and survive. Then instead of Jell-O at your center, you find a rock to stand on. Some of us call that God.

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About Eileen

Mother of five, grandmother of eleven, great-grandmother of seven, 1955 -1959 Rice University in Houston, TX. Taught primary grades; Was Associate Post Director of Religious Education at Ft. Campbell, KY; Consultant on the Myers/Briggs Type Indicator; Presently part time Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper for Architect husband of fifty-seven years. Blog: Laughter: Carbonated Grace

Posted on April 8, 2015, in Addictions, Decision Making, faith, fear, Healing, hope, Mental Health, Personality, spirituality, Suffering and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. This is an interesting thought to ponder: “We can find relief in many acceptable ways to keep our demons at bay. I simply don’t know if we can get perfectly free of them.”

    Your concluding statement makes me say, yes, addicts can be perfectly free. I suppose one would need to create new pathways in the brain, which grow stronger the more it is used ….

    I sent you an email. Did you receive it?

    • I don’t know about the email. I’ll check. Thanks for the response. I know we can get free of particular addictions. But, even finding a solid inner core doesn’t completely take away a tendency for self doubt. However, we develop strategies for accepting and living with some doubts without using destructive escapes from them.

      • Ah self-doubts, yes. And sometimes they surface when ‘desire’ for an addiction we thought we’d overcome ‘unexpectedly’ surfaces. It is then that words like, he who the son sets free is free indeed, become a solid inner core, I suppose.

        @email, thanks. I’ll reply 🙂

        • Yes, the goody for the baddy of self-doubt is we turn to God and the more self-doubt
          the more we turn to God and the more we turn to God the closer our relationship with God becomes. Those of us who live close to our feelings can’t control them, but we can control how we respond to them. Fall apart, project on others, or turn to God for grace.

  2. interesting, delicate and vast topic, Eileen… alcoholism is a real disease that needs to be medically treated… any kind of addiction is an illusion – lost from the very start… most of the addicted people are very anxious or depressed and lack of self-esteem, attention, affection, motivation, etc… sometimes, we just can’t people against their will… I do believe that as adults, we’re “the result” of the relationship we had(or not!) with our parents during our childhood and adolescence… balanced, responsible, harmonious adults did have alike parents.
    * * *
    @”or turn to God for grace.” – in theory, it seems easy and simple, but hard to put it into practice… in fact, God or someone else will NEVER-EVER do anything in our place…
    * * *
    my very best, lots of inspiration and have a pleasant weekend… cheers! 🙂

    • Must admit I disagree with addictions beginning as physical and needing medical treatment. I think they start out psychological, but with time, particularly with drugs such as alcohol and quickly with meth, become a physical addiction also. Since everyone is so different it is hard to generalize, but you and I both describe the self doubt and anxiety. I would include an underlying element of perfectionism or need or unrealistic expectation to be a “star” as a component of that pain.
      Some children show this need very early, but don’t have the combination of perseverance, talents, opportunities, support etc. that would enable them to achieve this. Some of us are possibility people, often we don’t “do” reality. I saw this early on in the differences in my five children and later with my eleven grandchildren. I agree that nature and nurture are in a delicate balance, but we don’t start with an even playing field.

      There is a place of grace within us that I(and others) call God. For many of us it is reached only in surrender when we “hit bottom” or somehow recognize we can let go of ego without losing our core. For me God is not a man with a beard, but the creative spirit or force within us and without us that makes us one and allows us to draw on resources not limited to our personal part of the universe. It’s a letting go of our need to be separate from/better than the rest of humanity by realizing we are only called to be one tiny unique aspect of an awesome whole.

      Yes, I agree it isn’t easy to turn to God for grace…..we are like the old song, “I’ll do it my way.” But when we manage it, miracles happen, even deliverance from an addiction. I can testify to that personally.

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