“You wander from room to room
hunting for the diamond necklace
that is already around your neck!”
People often inquire about whether they or a loved one may be “addicted.” The term addiction is quite broad, however it can be easily defined by any repetitive behavior that a person is unable to stop despite consequences and regardless of his or her best efforts. Over the years, increased understanding of the addiction process has changed the way we define and treat addiction. We are now aware that addiction is not confined to chemical use alone. This is because both chemical use and experiences can result in the outcome of pleasure aka reward and positive reinforcement (your brain seems to not care about where this comes from).
To make matters worse, it is likely that once “addiction” sets in, the pleasure that is experienced may actually decrease while addictive urges intensify even further. Have you ever had to use to feel “normal” again? This often occurs because using is stopping distress rather than creating pleasure. Keeping this knowledge in mind while addressing addiction treatment is crucial. Identifying ways to effectively alleviate distress through healthier means as well as learning to tolerate these occurrences is quite helpful. It is also important to recognize the benefits of emotional distress rather than redirecting, numbing, or avoiding these feelings. The purpose of emotion is to feel, this is why they are called feelings. They are meant to assist us in our journey. It’s difficult to reach our destination when we keep throwing away the map!