Beyond Balance: Addiction

Beyond Balance: Addiction

Welcome to everyone! This post is intended to be for informational purposes only, and is a product of my opinion and experience as a massage therapist and life coach. Please consult with a medical provider and do your own research with any tips or suggestions I present here, and do not disregard any treatment or advice given to you already. And also please do seek help if you struggle with anything I write about in this blog. 

There are many types of addiction, including some that include using a chemical substance. For the purposes of this post I will be referring mostly to those addictions that are not dependant on a substance. The principles might be applicable in all cases, but use judgement, caution and advice from professionals with anything you try. This post discusses a sensitive subject and the language within will reflect this, just so you know now.

The brain is an amazing organ. It controls everything in our body, produces thought, and makes us who we are as intelligent beings. But the brain can also be a huge obstacle when it comes to overcoming any form of addiction. The hormone known as dopamine, which is helpful for multiple body functions, gets released whenever a person participates in their addictive behavior. In this case, it becomes more of a reward system in the brain, one that continues even if the body starts to suffer for it.

Addictions can come in any of these categories:

  • Substance addiction–this includes things like alcohol and drugs, including prescription and opioids.
  • Impulse control disorders–like pyromania, kleptomania, or gambling addiction.
  • Behavioral addictions–such as pornography, excessive working, and all types of food addictions.

There has been some controversy in the medical community about what classifies as an addiction. Currently, some might hesitate to call anything behavioral as an actual addiction. But what I want to present to you here is that there are many different addictions, even if not officially defined as such. And, not to cheapen the word, addiction can be used to define any action or behavior in our life that is overly distracting, impulsive, or out of control. It just goes back to the reward system that our brain develops when we give in to the action, substance, or behavior.

Image by WikimediaImages from Pixabay

Because of how easy it is to develop one, it is no surprise to me when I come across a client that struggles with an addiction of some sort. But most of what I come across is an addiction to pornography. In most cases it is a male client, or a troubled female client expressing concern to me about her loved one’s addiction. All of this has had me investigate the source of addiction and why it happens. 

The theme of addiction is that of trying to “check out” of reality and live in a safe world. When you finish that long work day, do you sit at a computer, play on your phone, or watch Netflix and chill? These activities are all ways of checking out: we don’t want to deal with our reality and choose to participate in something else. The more troubling the day, the bigger the “checking out.” The comfort is that we have complete control over these new situations (or at least we think we do). What we really want is to move from a chaotic reality to one that we feel safe and in which we have control. And what if instead of a hard day, we experience something that triggers a traumatic event in our life? Wouldn’t we want to escape that situation even more so and go somewhere safe? Well, now you see why addiction can be so easy for people. Particularly those that have been through a lot of trauma in their life. And though addictions may not start at substance abuse, the trend may lead there as a person needs a stronger way of escaping their own reality. 

So now the hard part. If you do have an addiction of some kind, ask yourself what you are trying to run or hide from. Is it some experience you went through? Was it abuse, bullying, or shaming? Was it you that perpetrated it? Did you see, hear or experience something as a child you shouldn’t have in an ideal world? Was your family dynamic not a healthy environment? Chances are, if you are a human, you can say yes to some of these questions. It can bring up pain, fear, sadness, or guilt just thinking of something like this. But if you do find a source of trauma this way, the good news is that you are one step closer to resolving it. 

But it doesn’t stop there, we have more to bring up.

The next step is finding out a core emotion that influences you today. Was someone mean to you in school? This trauma could only be the first step in a long staircase. If so, this hypothetical  trauma could be a reminder of a time you were hurt in grade school, and that could be a trigger for a time when you were hurt by family or a parent as a young child, which could also be a trigger for a core emotion of being unwanted or unloved. This whole thing is just cascading emotional trauma, starting with one instance and continuing on through our whole lives. Yes, this process is not easy. I like to call this a core emotion because that is the last step, the root of the problem, and usually it’s a doozy. But healing that emotion may have a great impact on your current life, and not only just for healing addiction.

Another way to potentially heal an addiction is to–and bear with me here–allow yourself to participate in it. To help you get through the shocked expression or the desire to blast me in the comments, let me elaborate on why I think this way with a story.

I have a client that came to me for a life coaching session. Among the things he wanted was some help in his addiction to masturbation. Since I knew he had struggles with guilt in his life–and masturbation was a symptom–I suggested he allow himself to participate and focus on not being guilty afterwards. I had him schedule a day and time to masturbate, accompanied with an idea of self-care through the whole process. He told me later that he left my office very excited at the prospect. An unintentional side effect of this suggestion, however, was that he actually experienced a decline in the desire to masturbate at all. What was once a thing that he struggled with multiple times a week turned into a once a week occurrence that had the bonus of no guilt association.

So could the act itself be healing? With the right attitude, that is. In essence with this one client, he found that masturbation was a symptom of something deeper and once that guilt was removed from the equation, that particular symptom abated. Now, this whole process that I’m suggesting is something that is highly dependent on the person and the addiction. This would only be recommended to those that suffer from a behavioral addiction, not a substance addiction. 

Before I finish, I want to make a special mention to the men of the world. In my experience, I have found that men are usually not very proactive when it comes to working on their personal addictions. Often it is a devoted wife or mother that tearfully tells me of what the men in their lives are going through but not trying to change. Men have traditionally been told that it is very un-manly to express thoughts, feelings, or emotions in our society. If you get hurt, you are supposed to “walk it off.” Or even to ask for help when we have difficulty with something. This translates into a culture of hiding, repressing, or ignoring things that should come out. And could it also be part of the reason why men are expected to live shorter lives than women? This doesn’t have to be the case, as far as the social aspect, anyway. We can change, talk about how we feel, and shift what is to what could be. And in this aspect, what could be is getting rid of addictions even if we feel like it’s impossible. So wake up, men. 

I specialize in helping men overcome their addictions and feel excitement for life again. If you, (or someone you know), are lost in something like this reach out to me and check out my Beyond Balance program here.

And as always: smile, you are doing the best that you can in your situation!

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