People who have decided to face their addiction have made a courageous attempt to reclaim their lives and cease self-destructive behavior. But stopping a single behavior does not usually end the disease of addiction. Addiction is a bottomless pit that always seeks fulfillment – forever searching without an end. Any old habit will do; co-dependency, drugs, electronics, food, gambling, nicotine, pills, pot, romance, sex, shopping, work – the list goes on ad-infinitum. Switching from one addiction to the next serves only one purpose. It prevents a person from discovering the true path to freedom – a cure.
I’m not talking about a cure in the traditional sense that you take medication and then you forever are asymptomatic. I’m talking about a different kind of medicine – one that means you lose all desire to use anything ever again. To recoil from all addictive behaviors and the poison that they are. All drugs and actions that involve putting toxins in your body are entirely eliminated. As for the other addictions, they are no longer used as a quick fix. Instead, these things are either enjoyed to nourish the body, mind, and soul properly or, if unhealthy, altogether eliminated.
I realize that the notion of facing and stopping all forms of addiction sends many people into an emotional tailspin. I’m not suggesting that everything is tackled all at once. The emphasis is on being conscious of our behaviors. Rigorous honesty can prevent a great deal of pain and suffering in the long run. Many of us, myself included, took decades to recover fully because we didn’t have the conscious awareness of our ever-seeking addiction.
A typical pattern looks like this: stop drinking and drugging, stop binging and purging, stop smoking, spending, gambling, constant work, stop love and sex addiction, stop anything that has negative consequences. But when we are continuing to be addicted and don’t know it, the likelihood of staying chemically sober while engaging in these other addictions is highly unlikely. The highs and lows activated by these addictions eventually become unbearable and demand soothing. Besides, what’s the point in staying sober if misery is the only thing to look forward to?
The Bottomless Pit
Addiction is a bottomless pit. It’s not a thing; it’s hidden by an invisible antenna that is always on the hunt for anything that will cover up that empty, lonely, turbulent void. Feed me, love me, fix me, followed by more, more, more.
The more is never satisfied, and the hole gets bigger. Eventually, the hole engulfs the user rather than the other way around. If you’re lucky, you’ll see what’s happening and surrender once and for all. If not, your suffering will be unbearable. That angst is a wake-up call – the pain is trying to save your life. Will you respond, or will you allow that invisible hole to continue to consume every good part of you and your life?
One Way Out
First, you must realize there’s only one addiction. It’s sly; it morphs around and constantly disguises itself. But once you see the game, you have all the control.
Next, you recognize there’s only one way out of the hole. You have to dive into it. You weren’t born with that void, so you have to go on a personal expedition to discover the causes and ongoing conditions that caused the hole and then grieve the unresolved pain. If you don’t face the pain, you will keep on using in one form or another.
Are you willing to face the wound so that it can heal? Or, are you running away from it while it follows you every minute of the day like a nuclear reactor set to go off without notice?
Pain doesn’t kill you unless you refuse to welcome it to the surface and allow it to be released. Therapeutic release of anger and sorrow means you heal without wounding others.
Every Addiction Is A Substitute for Love
You will never be cured of the urge to use something or someone unless you decide to choose love over fear.
Even though the first step of self-love is facing the pain and working through it, that’s not enough. Healing the past won’t fill the emptiness, and in some cases, will only make you feel lonelier and more miserable. This is the glitch that gets people into trouble – thinking that they’ve “done the work,” but they don’t actually feel better. The journey has only just begun.
The second step is to replace addiction with love – love for yourself and others’ love.
Many people think they understand love, but they confuse love with a feeling. Love does feel good, but it’s the result of an action, not the other way around.
Love means you’re willing to change, and then you DO. It’s not an intention; it’s an act.
Love means caring for your body as though you were a small child dependent on good care, healthy food, exercise, baths, outdoor activities, playtime, rest.
Love means caring for your mind as though you were the best teacher you ever had and taking good advice on honesty, reliability, integrity, and setting limits and boundaries. Refusing to engage in unhealthy behaviors and continuing to address your emotions, and honoring the healing process.
Love means finding something that spiritually plugs you in and making that your number-one priority. This starts with listening to your conscience rather than conveniently ignoring it and doing the opposite of love.
Love means staying connected to family and friends and showing up exactly the same way you want to be treated. With honesty, kindness, and respect.
Love means giving back, paying it forward, and replacing your existence with meaning and purpose.
You will never achieve love or happiness by searching for it. Love and happiness are the result of being IT.
Once you achieve true love in all of these areas, addiction will be the farthest thing from your mind. You’ll be too busy enjoying your life like you were meant to do.
If you’re ready to fill up with something that will give you lasting joy, meaning, and purpose, now is the time to start. Face the void, heal what caused it, and learn how to love. No one will ever love you more than you love yourself. You are the most important person you will ever love. What are you waiting for?
Join the Movement
Donna Marks is an educator and licensed psychotherapist and addictions counselor in Palm Beach, Florida. Since 1989, she has worked with over 6,000 clients. Donna’s struggle with addiction brought her to a worldwide search for healing. She became licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in 1987. In 1989, she earned a Doctorate Degree in Adult Education, then became Certified in Addictions, Gestalt Therapy, Psychoanalysis, Hypnosis, and Sex Therapy. Donna developed an award-winning addiction training program at Palm Beach Community College. She co-owned an outpatient treatment program and is a consultant to treatment centers. Donna is the author of two books; Learn, Grow, Forgive, and the multi-award-winning, Exit the Maze-One Addiction, One Cause, One Cure, and created an online course for people who want to be cured of addiction.
Donna is a public speaker and has shared her methods with hundreds of thousands of listeners on podcasts and radio shows.
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